Personally, I don’t see cinema itself as truly important. I am not crazy for film. I chose film as a medium, as an instrument with which I can explain my ideas and to describe what is going on in my head and heart. And I think that I have been pretty successful at it. I have made nine feature films and a short for UNICEF.
Eight films deal with Iranian women, the middle class, and social, economic, and other problems. I try to show our society what is going on in women’s heads, what are their hopes, what they want and love. I attempt to describe my ideas to our society. And I am not like other directors. For example, I don’t concern myself with foreign film festivals. I love my people and I love it when Iranians come and see my films. I am truly happy that I am so successful outside of Iran, but my main goal is to satisfy the Iranian public.
I always thought, even when I was a critic, that the brutal and simplistic reaction of the spectator is a good thing. I know that back then in Cahiers, we praised very commercial films in trying to defend them from a point of view that was not that of the man on the street. But this point of view doesn’t bother me. If people want to take things literally in the film, things that I myself may not take literally, I don’t say that this goes against its meaning, I say that it’s a more unsophisticated way of receiving the film, that’s all. I absolutely take on board every interpretation. That doesn’t mean I have to accept them, but once I finish a film, it escapes me, it closes itself off from me, and I can’t enter it any more. It’s up to the public to penetrate through whichever door they wish. I am not speaking about critics, who claim to have found the key, the right key, the only one which opens the big entrance gate. But that’s not my problem any more, thank God. I am not looking for the keys to Hitchcock any more, like I used to.
[Senses of Cinema]
What was it like making Monika?
I didn’t make Monika. [Source novel author and coscreenwriter Per Anders] Fogelström bred her in me and then, like an elephant, I was pregnant for three years, and last summer she was born with a big ballyhoo. Today, she is a beautiful and naughty child. I hope she will cause an emotional uproar and all sorts of reactions. I shall challenge any indifferent person to a duel!
A wild paternal love, indeed!
For most people, a film is a short-lived product, like soap, matches, or polished false teeth. But not for the film director. He lives with his opus (like the devil, he does) until opening night, when he unwillingly surrenders it to the public.
-Ingmar Bergman, in an interview with himself.
What made you interested in making films, coming from that background?
Bela Tarr: I loved the cinema always, and I loved to go watch movies. But what I saw there was just stupid lies and fake stories. I never saw life and I never saw anything about the people I knew. I never saw real passion, I never saw real emotions, or real camerawork. I never saw a real movie. I thought, if they cannot show me, then I have to do my movie.
Were you seeing Hollywood films or local ones?
Bela Tarr: Everything everywhere is the same. The whole fucking storytelling thing is everywhere the same. That’s why I decided I have to do my movies.
I was an assistant for a long time. I had a very painful, nightmarish life of late nights shooting and organising. I did lots and lots of films, but not many Portuguese. French, German, American. I know 3am the actress, I know 6am the actor, I know 9am the director. I remember one director crying. I remember one director panicking. Even if you’re strong and macho and say this is for macho guys, like Coppola, it’s not. I had this life, and then I made my films. When I made my films, I wanted to get rid of that. Not the crew, but the social nuisance. There should be a mirror in front of the camera, not behind. I saw the mirror behind, and what was behind was the boss, the slaves, the whores, the money. All the worst aspects. It wasn’t working for me.
A.V. Club: What can cinema do to an idea?
David Lynch: Cinema is a medium that can translate ideas. But wood can translate ideas, too. You have wood and then you get a chair. Some ideas are for different things.
AVC: Does that translation draw out parallels between different ideas that you weren’t aware of when you started?
DL: For sure. I wasn’t aware of anything. Then, suddenly, you’re aware. It’s like somebody giving you a puzzle piece without any kind of frame—you get a puzzle piece and then a few more. It doesn’t help you much, but you love the little pieces. You don’t know if they relate. In this process, hopefully, a feature film script will emerge. And then, one day, you’re surprised by how it all comes together.