By MCN Editor editor@moviecitynews.com

Paul Schrader

“There are people who talk about the American cinema of the seventies as some halcyon period. It was to a degree but not because there were any more talented filmmakers. There’s probably, in fact, more talented filmmakers today than there was in the seventies. What there was in the seventies was better audiences.And a lot of what was happening in the world had people in consternation: Women’s rights, gay rights, sexual liberation, drug liberation, anti-war. All of these things were rolling on top of each other and people were turning to the arts, specifically movies, for what should we feel about this? Bob and Alice about wife swapping, and coming home about Vietnam veterans, unmarried women about female liberation. So almost one a week, films were coming out to address these things that were on people’s minds. When people take movies seriously it’s very easy to make a serious movie. When they don’t take it seriously, it’s very, very hard. We now have audiences that don’t take movies seriously so it’s hard to make a serious movie for them.

It’s not that us filmmakers are letting you down, it’s you audiences are letting us down. Because if audiences are receptive to a quality movie, believe me, they will get it. We’re all just waiting to make it. At that time, that period about ten, twelve years, every single week there was some kind of film coming out addressing a social issue in a fictional form.

Clearly with First Reformed you tokk on the subject and problems around climate change as one of the themes that underpin the story. I wonder how you feel your audiences have responded to that aspect of the story?

I lost you after climate change. That’s a big question because there is no response. There is no response. As a species we have made our decision, it’s pretty clear. Now it’s a question of how long it takes for that decision to be fully effective. But you know, there is no—whatever tipping point there was, we’ve passed it and it is—you know, it’s very hard to—a friend of mine wrote an article for the New York Times calling on raising a child in a doomed world. And my adult children do not have children and they don’t feel they should, and that is a question that begins First Reformed: Should I bring someone in to this world knowing what kind of life they will have? So it would be nice to say the movie has a positive effect, but our gorilla brains are not going to get us out of the problem. Evolution has taken us as far as it can. The next stage will be some other form of evolved intelligence, but us gorillas, we’re not equipped to solve this problem.”
~ Paul Schrader’s BAFTA Screenwriter Lecture, Linked Here In Full

 

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