After a long extract from the Saga di Anatahan, Joseph von Sternberg reconstructs his conception of cinema starting from the problems raised by the making of a film: it is not just a matter of his films being considered "good" or "bad", but they have to leave a mark on the publics memory, there must be an awareness of research being conducted, and that is why "my films are modern". In a consistent exaltation of scenic fiction, Sternberg describes the reinvention of the island of Anatahan in a Kyoto warehouse: painted scenery, an aircraft hung on a wire, drawings of mountains, a wooden machinegun, an upside-down tree whose tangled roots become its branches to give a better idea of the jungle: "It's all artifice! That's how a film should be made. Only the ocean is real, and I'm sorry I couldn't create the water as well." Sternberg goes on to explain the great importance, for him, of sound, which must be in counterpoint to the image ("sound was born the day a bird was heard but not seen on the screen, because it was off camera"); he talks about his attempts to eliminate the gap between objective and subjective, about the need to give a homogeneous style to the image (putting "makeup" on the scenery as you do on a face), about the importance of lighting and photography: the cinéaste must have a profound knowledge of technique, otherwise he will be the first to be surprised by what he finds in the image he has filmed. And among the "tools" at the director's disposal, the actors have special importance: "they don't need to know the screenplay, with me the great actors have always been happy just to do as I told them." "To be a director", Sternberg concludes, you need a special talent: lots of the directors I know are idiots, yet they're also great directors. You have to have a vision of the world."
André S. Labarthe
André S. Labarthe (Oloron-Sainte-Marie, France, 1931 - Paris, France, 2018), critic of “Cahiers du cinéma,” during the 1960s conceived and produced with Janine Bazin the Cinéastes de notre temps series, interrupted in 1972 and picked up again in 1988 with the title Cinéma, de notre temps. The series collected interviews of the greatest contemporary filmmakers. He also filmed documentaries on Hitchcock, Rohmer, and Scorsese.
Mathieu Amalric, l’art et la matière (mm, doc., 2018, co-regioa Quentin Mével).
Director of photography: Alain Levat, Joseph von Sternberg.
Editor: Noël Burch.
Mixaggio: Jean-Louis Bottin.
Production company: ORTF.
Riedizione: La Sept/ARTE, AMIP, INA.
Serie diretta da: Janine Bazin, André S. Labarthe.
Estratti da: La saga di Anatahan, L'angelo azzurro, L'imperatrice scarlatta.