Peter Greenaway's Quotes

1 Does anyone do anything valuable after 80? You have to really be pragmatic. Albert Einstein , for example, had virtually done everything by the time he was 35. The best poetry in English is leaning more towards Keats, who's dead by 25, than it is to Tennyson and Wordsworth, who lingered on into their 80s, writing more and more unsatisfactory poetry. The world belongs to the young, so it's selfish to hang around. You're in the way. You're using resources which could be much better used by people with young and exciting imaginations.
2 [on why he often makes films about artists] I can think of nobody more valuable than artists, whether in the fact they make paintings or make films or whatever else they do. They seem to me to be a force for positiveness, for creativity, for looking forward. I've already set on my next film about Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncusi , who was only a shepherd boy and had no money and in 1903 walked from Bucharest to Paris.[2015]
3 [on Walking to Paris (2017) and Constantin Brâncusi ] Along the way, living off the land as his years of being a shepherd boy had taught him, he had adventures - comic, violent, sexual and romantic - and certainly formative of his future sculpture, constantly building sculptures out of found materials - wood, stone, sand, snow and ice - leaving a trail of abandoned experimental temporary sculptures across the landscapes of Europe.[2014]
4 Cinema's death date was 31 September 1983, when the remote-control zapper was introduced to the living room, because now cinema has to be interactive, multi-media art.
5 Thirty-five years of silent cinema is gone, no one looks at it anymore. This will happen to the rest of cinema. Cinema is dead
6 Every medium has to be redeveloped, otherwise we would still be looking at cave paintings ... My desire to tell you stories is very strong but it's difficult because I am looking for cinema that is non-narrative.
7 [on The Pillow Book (1996)] The film has written and spoken dialogue in twenty-five languages - English, French, Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Latin, Hebrew, necrotic Egyptian ... and it has written calligraphic text on paper, wood, and flesh, on flat and curved surfaces, vertically and horizontally, on both living and dead flesh, in neon, on screens, in projection, as sub-title, inter-title, and sur-title, as High Art and low art, as advertisement and banker's check and registration plate, on photograph, on blackboard, as letter correspondence, as photocopy facsimile, and spoken, chanted, and sung, with and without music ... a mocking challenge. You want text? Cinema wants text? Cinema pretends to eschew text? Then we can give you text to mock that smug suggestion that cinema thinks it is pictures.
8 But thinking of cinema being a dinosaur, you know what they say about dinosaurs: the brain dies but it takes maybe several weeks before that message gets to the tail. So if we're lucky, maybe, the notion of conventional celluloid cinema has perhaps one or two generations to run. But then I'm sure, quite happily, we'll see the end of it. I would cry no tears for it because I'm quite convinced, and there's no reason not to think this, that all the new languages will certainly be soon giving us, I won't say cinema because I think we have to find a new name for it, but cinematic experiences, which is going to make Star Wars look like an early sixteenth century lantern-slide lecture.
9 Works of art are never finished, just stopped.
10 To be an atheist you have to have ten thousand times more imagination than if you are a religious fundamentalist. You must take the responsibility to acquire information, digest and use it to understand what you can.
11 There are basically only two subject matters in all Western culture: sex and death. We do have some ability to manipulate sex nowadays. We have no ability, and never will have, to manipulate death.
12 My favourite film-maker west of the English Channel is not English - but to me doesn't seem American either - David Lynch - a curious American-European film-maker. He has - against odds - achieved what we want to achieve here. He takes great risks with a strong personal voice and adequate funds and space to exercise it. I thought Blue Velvet (1986) and Eraserhead (1977) were masterpieces.
13 Maybe the next question you ought to ask is: `Under these circumstances: why do I go on making films?' Well, I still would like you to feel the enthusiasm that all those people felt in the twenties and thirties, that indeed we had discovered, with cinema, the great 20th-century, all-embracing medium. There were extraordinary apologists for what it could become, but I feel it hasn't become that. Cinema has been dragged down by mimetic association with all the other art forms, predominantly with the 19th century novel, and because of its distribution situation and its apparent desire to appeal to the lowest common denominator, it has gone in directions which have not fulfilled those extraordinary promises, in general terms. But I still have this sneaking, hopeful suspicion that we can return to those optimistic, ambitious days and make something of what could be a most extraordinary medium.
14 I think that every artist dreams of renewing the forms which came before, but I think very few can be considered to have achieved that. We are all dwarves standing upon the shoulders of the giants who preceded us, and I think we must never forget that. After all, even iconoclasts only exist with respect to that which they destroy.
15 Here was opportunity to make an audience walk and move, be sociable in a way never dreamed of by the rigors of cinema-watching, in circumstances where many different perspectives could be brought to bear on a series of phenomena associated with the topics under consideration. Yet all the time it was a subjective creation under the auspices of light and sound, dealing with a large slice of cinema's vocabulary.
16 Continuity is boring.
17 As for critics, one mediocre writer is more valuable than ten good critics. They are like haughty, barren spinsters lodged in a maternity ward.
18 Creation, to me, is to try to orchestrate the universe to understand what surrounds us. Even if, to accomplish that, we use all sorts of stratagems which in the end prove completely incapable of staving off chaos.
19 [on working with composer Michael Nyman ] I'm pretty certain Michael and I will never ever work together again.
20 If you want to tell stories, be a writer, not a filmmaker.
21 I don't think we've seen any cinema yet. I think we've seen 100 years of illustrated text.
22 Many quite popular films are filled with violence. I think the difference between those and my films is that I show the cause and effect of violent activity. It's not a Donald Duck situation where he get a brick in the back of the head and gets up and walks away in the next frame. Mine have violence which keeps Donald Duck in the hospital for six months and creates a trauma which he will remember for the rest of his life.
23 Cinema doesn't connect with the body as artists have in two thousand years of painting, using the nude as the central figure which the ideas seem to circulate around. I think it is important to somehow push or stretch or emphasize, in as many ways as I can, the sheer bulk, shape, heaviness, the juices, the actual structure of the body. Cinema basically examines a personality first and the body afterward.
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