Saturday, August 11, 2007

Quotations from Chairman Mamet, Part I

David Mamet is a successful playwright (American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross), screenwriter (The Untouchables, Wag the Dog), and director (The Spanish Prisoner, State and Main). He's written about the act of writing and directing. His latest thought on these things are in his book Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business. Here are some of this thoughts from the book:
"I pass a poster for the current film and count eighteen names of producers.

On the poster?

Note that the poster is traditionally a way to attract the eye, and so the mind, to a novelty. The producers may in fact have contributed something to the film, but who in the world has ever gone to a film because of the identity of a producer? No one.

Then why list eighteen?

And here we have, to the physician, the unfortunate, inescapable, symptom -- here is the sunken cheek, the dark hollow neath the eye, the foul breath and thready pulse, the herald of death: the film, perhaps, is being made no longer to attract the audience but to buttress or advance the position of the executive."
And this:
"Movies are a potentially great art. Like any human endeavor, like you and me, they have inevitably been exposed to and have, in the main, submitted to the power of self-corruption, of self-righteousness, to the abuse of power. But like General della Rovere, like you and me, like the studio executives, they possess the possibility of beauty and, hence, for human transformation: not as preaching, not as instruction, not as doctrine -- all of which, finally, are out of place in the cinema and can awaken, at best, but self-righteousness. Movies possess the power to speak to the human soul, to free us from the weight of repression.

What is repressed? Our knowledge of our own worthlessness.

The truth cleanses, but the truth hurts -- everywhere but in the drama, where, in comedy or tragedy, the truth restores through art.

The audience has a right to these dramas, and the filmmaker and the studios have a responsibility to attempt them."
More quotes to come.

2 comments:

Bruce said...

Not only did these quotes made any sense, but why on earth would he even conjure them while thinking?!

Anyway, I have a question: I'm doing a three part post on the history of Popeye, so if you had the time, could you read them and tell me if I had left anything of importance out? Here are the links:
And thanks for asking.

Part 1

Part 2

David Nethery said...

I think these are great thoughts from David Mamet
and I wish more film makers were asking these questions of themselves and their work.

I particularly liked this one:

"The truth cleanses, but the truth hurts -- everywhere but in the drama, where, in comedy or tragedy, the truth restores through art."