Martin Scorsese looks at the changing face of Oscar season over four decades
Of course. And it has to feel good to still be able to stir people at this point in your career.
That feels good, yeah. That feels good. Because I think there's so much — I mean as I'm talking now there's a, you know, I have the TV on. The news is on without the sound, just a glut of images and a glut of, what's the word, programming that we've gone through. I've seen the change. I was around when CNN started, you know? The 24-hour news business. And I think it numbs people on every level, every level, every subject, every issue around the world. Whether it's famine, war, it numbs them. The war, they don't show too much. They learned that from Vietnam. But it just numbs people. So the only way you're going to get somebody's attention is to maybe shock them a bit.
That's very true. You mentioned "Kundun" and I just wanted to ask — I had dinner with Roger Deakins the other day and was talking about this — is there any chance you two would work together again? I loved what you did together on that film.
Oh, I'd love to. He's just extraordinary. He's amazing. I really would love to, but it needs the right subject matter, I think. And of course I also wound up having more of a relationship with Michael Ballhaus. I mean we got used to working with each other. And then Bob Richardson, to a certain extent. So now that's changing. Things are changing and, yeah, I saw Roger briefly — I didn't even get to say hello to him — at the Academy luncheon. Maybe I'll see him at the Oscars and say hello. But he's really the most remarkable and brilliant — he reminds me of Jack Cardiff.
He's definitely one of the best. And I also think it's great you're working with Rodrigo Prieto now. Is he going to shoot "Silence?"
I hope so, yes. We went to a location scout together. It's just a matter of working on our schedules. But I had a very good time working with him. He's a real poet of light. He really is. And also camera movement.
Which is always crucial in your movies, I've noticed.
Yeah. Yes! Exactly! Exactly. And he had a kind of flexibility with the camera that made me feel very comfortable. I could ask for anything, you know?
And finally, speaking of "Silence," I talked to Thelma about it and she mentioned it'll be part of a sort of trilogy of religion films you've done with "The Last Temptation of Christ" and "Kundun." What can you tell me about it? What can we expect from it and what are you looking to do with it as an artist?
Well, it's just…huh…
Not to be too broad!
[Laughs.] It's really focusing on the story of it. I don't mean the narratives. I mean the inner core of the story. And that has to come through the character and the actors playing these parts. And to strip away a lot of the artifice around the picture. "Artifice" may be the wrong word, but strip away a lot of the production — hmm, that's the wrong word, too. Sorry. Strip away a lot of the visual complexity and get to something that may be, for this subject matter, essential, without mimicking the festival art films. Because you could fall into that, and — let me put it this way, without mimicking a different style of the greats, which I can never do. I can imitate it, maybe, but how am I going to find that silence in myself without making it, you know, something where no one's interested, you see? It's a hard one.*
Well I look forward to that. Thank you again for talking on a Saturday. It's always a pleasure.
Yeah, thank you.
And good luck at the Oscars!
Thank you! Thank you so much. I'll speak to you soon. Bye.
*Just a side note away from the interview as this answer fascinated me. As recounted above, Scorsese has been enjoying a very loud and energized sort of time in his career, consistent success, both with awards and box office. That his instinct appears to be to strip things down and find an essence strikes me — just a fan on the sidelines paying attention — as a wonderful step for the director, and I hope, indeed, he finds something he may well be looking for with this project.