After the director and the writer, the actor can perform his own mise en scène, insert his own interpretation. There is a kind of complicated alchemy, a game of seduction, in which one accepts the imagination of the director without allowing him to kill the imagination of us actors.”
Born December 27, 1925
“I made 58 films as an assistant—I was at the side of directors who applied all the rules: make it, for example, a close-up to show that the character is about to say something important. I reacted against all that and so close-ups in my films are always the expression of an emotion … so they call me a perfectionist and a formalist because I watch my framing. But I’m not doing it to make it pretty, I’m seeking, first and foremost, the relevant emotion.”
January 3, 1929 – April 30, 1989
“I believe you have to be born a director. It’s like a child’s adventure: you take the initiative among other children and become a director, creating a mystery. You mould things into shape and create. You torment people with your ‘artistismus‘—scaring mother and grandmother in the middle of the night. You dress yourself up like Charlie’s Aunt, or as (Hans Christian) Andersen’s heroes. Using feathers from a trunk, you transform yourself into a rooster or a firebird. This has always preoccupied me, and that is what directing is.”
January 9, 1924 — July 20, 1990
“The first artist I admired in my life was Sergei Eisenstein. The second man I admired was Alexander Dovzhenko and a picture called Air City (Aerograd). These men were like idols, and you are affected by your idols, as I was by Renoir’s films. So, I became a film director out of admiration, out of wanting to be like that—hero worship. I think it’s the most wonderful art in the world.”
Elia Kazan (September 7, 1909 – September 28, 2003)
How does the Danish society react if a person wants to stay in the country but his motives are primarily aesthetic? The film For Aesthetic Reasons portrays the young Estonian art historian Andres Kurg who goes to Denmark and, at the director’s instigation, turns to all kinds of institutions with an attempt to seek permission to settle down in Denmark because he likes the environment.
»For purely aesthetic reasons«, as he claims.
He loves Danish post-war Modernism and would like to live in a house designed by one of its most prominent architects, Arne Jacobsen, surrounded by the designs of Bang&Oluffsen. While we are guided through some of the significant Modernist buildings by Kurg, we parallelly follow his attempts to get in touch with city officials and the proper authorities to find a solution. As Eastern Europe is still a no-man’s land, the migrant-aesthete from the Baltics tends to arouse suspicion on an ethical level. The only practical advice given, and the only remaining possibility, is what the Lutheran pastor suggests with an apologetic smile hiding his uneasiness, to marry a Danish girl, since families are not taken apart. The film which„bursts upon the stale and stuffy Estonian documentary film scene”(Andres Maimik) is influenced by the filmmaking experience of Dogma 95.
Masterpieces are born of the artist’s struggle to express his ethical ideals. Indeed, his concepts and his sensibilities are informed by those ideals. If he loves life, has an overwhelming need to know it, change it, try to make it better—in short, if he aims to cooperate in enhancing the value of life, then there is no danger in the fact that the picture of reality will have passed through a filter of his subjective concepts, through his states of mind. For his work will always be a spiritual endeavor which aspires to make man more perfect: an image of the world that captivates us by its harmony of feeling and thought, its nobility and restraint.
Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream, it takes over as the number one hormone; it bosses the enzymes; directs the pineal gland; plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to film is more film.