One cheesy dance-hall, no dialogue, some wonderful music equals great visual jokes, tragic observation about mankind and the 50 year history of Europe in front of you. Different characters live through their dances from 1930s to the 1980s as the time passes by and politics, social behavior, and fashion change with each new epoch… For less than two hours we would go through the wars, peace, racial conflicts, student riots of 1968 while Ettore Scola’s camera never leaves the ballroom. The film was nominated by the Academy for the Best Foreign Language movie award. It should’ve been nominated for the best Universal Language award – the language of music and film.
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.
The spectator always ends up by understanding when you are sincere in what you are telling him. I don’t invent any language to appear simpler, stupider, or smarter. A lack of honesty would destroy the dialogue. Time has worked for me. When people understood that I was speaking a natural language, that I wasn’t pretending, that I didn’t take them for imbeciles, that I only say what I think, then they became interested in what I was doing.
“Cinema is a language. It can say things – big, abstract things. And I love that about it. I’m not always good with words. Some people are poets and have a beautiful way of saying things with words. But cinema is its own language. And with …it you can say so many things, because you’ve got time and sequences. You’ve got dialogue. You’ve got music. You’ve got sound effects. You have so many tools. And you can express a feeling and a thought that can’t be conveyed any other way. It’s a magical medium. For me, it’s so beautiful to think about these pictures and sounds flowing together in time and in sequence, making something that can be done only through cinema. It’s not just words or music – it’s a whole range of elements coming together and making something that didn’t exist before. It’s telling stories. It’s devising a world, an experience, that people cannot have unless they see that film. When I catch an idea for a film, I fall in love with the way cinema can express it. I like a story that holds abstractions, and that’s what cinema can do.”
David Lynch, Catching The Big Fish
For me, it’s so beautiful to think about these pictures and sounds flowing together in time and in sequence, making something that can be done only through cinema. Its not just words or music—it’s a whole range of elements coming together and making something that didn’t exist before. It’s telling stories. It’s devising a world, an experience, that people cannot have unless they see that film.
I don’t make a distinction between directing and criticism. When I began to look at pictures, that was already part of moviemaking. If I go to see the last Hal Hartley picture, that’s part of making a movie, too. There is no difference. I am part of filmmaking and I must continue to look at what is going on. [With] American picture[s], more or less one every year is enough: they are more or less all the same. But it’s a part of seeing this is the world we are living in.