I remember lines of poetry I wrote when I was 18 or 19 years old, and they were of a religious nature. I realized, too, that much of my Marxism has a foundation that is irrational and mystical and religious. But the sum total of my psychological constitution tends to make me see things not from the lyrical-documentary point of view but rather from an epic point of view. There is something epic in my view of the world. And I suddenly had the idea of doingThe Gospel, which would be a tale that can be defined metrically as Epic-lyric.
Although St. Matthew wrote without metrics, he would have the rhythm of epic and lyric production. And for this reason, I have renounced in the film any kind of realistic and naturalistic reconstruction. I completely abandoned any kind of archaeology and philology, which nevertheless interest me in themselves. I didn’t want to make an historical reconstruction. I preferred to leave things in their religious state, that is, their mythical state. Epic-mythic.
Not desiring to reconstruct settings that were not philosophically exact—reconstructed on a sound stage by scene designers and technicians—and furthermore not wanting to reconstruct the ancient Jews, I was obliged to find everything—the characters and the ambiance—in reality. And so the rule that dominated the making of the film was the rule of analogy. That is, I found settings that were not reconstructions but that were analogous to ancient Palestine. The characters, too—I didn’t reconstruct characters but tried to find individuals who were analogous. I was obliged to scour southern Italy, because I realized that the pre-industrial agricultural world, the still feudal area of southern Italy, was the historical setting analogous to ancient Palestine. One by one I found the settings that I needed for The Gospel. I took these Italian settings and used them to represent the originals. I took the city of Matera, and without changing it in any way, I used it to represent the ancient city of Jerusalem. Or the little caverns of the village between Lucania and Puglia are used exactly as they were, without any modifications, to represent Bethlehem. And I did the same thing for the characters. The chorus of background characters I chose from the faces of the peasants of Lucania and Puglia and Calabria.
-Pier Paolo Pasolini (1965)
"And is Chaplin—comedy? No: he is Chaplin, pure and simple; a unique phenomenon, never to be repeated. He is unadulterated hyperbole; but above all he stuns us at every moment of his screen existence with the truth of his hero’s behavior. In the most absurd situation Chaplin is completely natural; and that is why he is funny."
"At his best, and Chaplin remained at his best for a long time, he was the greatest comedian that ever lived."
"My religion is cinema. I believe in Charlie Chaplin…"
"He is beyond praise because he is the greatest of all. What else can one say? The only filmmaker, anyway, to whom one can apply without misunderstanding that very misleading adjective, ‘humane’… Today one says Chaplin as one says Da Vinci—or rather Charlie, like Leonardo."
"The master of masters, the filmmaker of filmmakers, for me is still Charlie Chaplin. He has done everything in his films—script, direction, setting, production, performance and even the music… His films are not only examples of perfect unity, but all his work is one. One may say indeed of Chaplin that he has made only one film and that every facet of that film is a different enactment of the same profession of faith."
"All Chaplin’s early films assured me that the comedy can say in a grotesque way much more about people’s characters than serious films, which after a certain time fade away and became ridiculous. Good comedy is immortal."
"When I was young, the idea of an orgy was tremendously exciting. Charlie Chaplin once organized one in Hollywood for me and two Spanish friends, but when the three ravishing young women arrived from Pasadena, they immediately got into a tremendous argument over which one was going to get Chaplin, and in the end all three left in a huff."
"Last year I went to the Cannes Film Festival and met Charles Chaplin. They showed his works. I was deeply impressed by his greatness. His films, his methods and content, are modern and so contemporary; he is a great genius."
"[Did other filmmakers teach you anything?] There was one, an old man whom I had the fortune to meet very old, Charlie Chaplin; he told me that everyone could do this job, but that it is very demanding… He was the only guy who you couldn’t see in bars, nightclubs, or at receptions. He told me one had to stay at home and work…”
Pier Paolo Pasolini
"You can always feel underneath my love for Dreyer, Mizoguchi and Chaplin… I feel this mythic epicness in both Dreyer and Mizoguchi and Chaplin: all three see things from a point of view which is absolute, essential and in a certain way holy, reverential."
"If there is any name which can be said to symbolize cinema—it is Charlie Chaplin… I am sure Chaplin’s name will survive even if the cinema ceases to exist as a medium of artistic expression. Chaplin is truly immortal."
"If something is really happening on the screen, it isn’t crucial how it’s shot. Chaplin had such a simple cinematic style that it was almost like I Love Lucy, but you were always hypnotized by what was going on, unaware of the essentially non-cinematic style. He frequently used cheap sets, routine lighting and so forth, but he made great films. His films will probably last longer than anyone else’s.”
Vittorio De Sica
"Truly good films—like Chaplin’s—should stimulate as well as soothe, should appeal to the mind as well as to the senses, should kindle thought as well as the emotions."
The passion that had taken the form of a great love for literature and for life gradually stripped itself of the love for literature and turned to what it really was—a passion for life, for reality, for physical, sexual, objectual, existential reality around me. This is my first and only great love and the cinema in a way forced me to turn to it and express only it.
Cinema is identical to life, because each one of us has a virtual and invisible camera which follows us from when we’re born to when we die. In reality cinema is an infinite film sequence-shot. Each individual film interrupts and rearranges this infinite sequence-shot and thus creates meaning, which is what happens to us when we die. It is only at our moment of death that our life, to that point undecipherable, ambiguous, suspended, acquires a meaning. Montage thus plays the same role in cinema as death does in life.