I think there is something that is organic to film and unique to it as an art form, which is the nature of time and how to portray it in film. And I am interested in that question of, What is time in film? So I would say I’ve grown more interested in that question over time. It’s something I contemplate each time I make a film, but I’m hardly an original thinker in terms of this. Take the very famous example of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, where three different approaches to a similar reality are explored.
My understanding of filmic time is that it’s always moving forward in one clear, linear fashion, and at the end of two hours you come to the end. It’s only in parts of the story that you may periodically dip into the past. I think that if you approach telling a story the way Rashomondoes, what you do is dissolve any factual basis for determining what is true and what is not true. By having all three versions of events moving forward simultaneously, you dissolve the underlying concept of a single truth that’s presumed to be there. And I think that this is probably something very difficult to achieve in any other art form.
But at its essence, film is a collection of chopped-up time. I mean, I guess once in a while you have something that’s actual contiguous time that’s shot almost like a documentary recording of real time, but in general filming occurs over a longer time period: you shoot scenes over different days and then you edit that. Of course, the audience in theory experiences it as a linear story, but for those of us who are creating it, it’s a complete non-linear mishmash of time from the very beginning, and we’ll do brazen things like take a close-up from a scene that didn’t belong in the scene at all and pop it in in the editing.