||[on America in 1979] It would be difficult for me to make a film about contemporary America today. We live in such dark times and we have gradually lost our open spaces. We always had hope, the illusion that there was a place where we could live, where one could emigrate and go even further. Wilderness, this is the place where everything seems possible, where solidarity exists - and justice - where the virtues are somehow linked to this justice. In the region where I grew up, everyone felt it in a very strong way. This sense of space disappearing, we nevertheless can find it in cinema, which will pass it on to us There is so much to do: it's as if we were on the Mississippi Territory, in the eighteenth century. For an hour, or for two days, or longer, these films can enable small changes of heart, changes that mean the same thing: to live better and to love more. And even an old movie in poor and beaten condition and can give us that. What else is there to ask for?
||[on the cinematography of Days of Heaven (1978)] With Néstor Almendros , we decided to film without any artificial light. It wasn't possible in the houses at night, but outside, we shot with natural light or with the fire. When the American team was saying, 'This is not how we should proceed,' Nestor Almendros, very courageously insisted. As we filmed, the team discovered that it was technically easier, and I was able to capture absolute reality. That was my wish: to prevent the appearance of any technique, and that the photography was to be processed to be visually beautiful and to ensure this beauty existed within the world I was trying to show, suggesting that which was lost, or what we were now losing.
||[on his methodology] I film quite a bit of footage, then edit. Changes before your eyes, things you can do and things you can't. My attitude is always let it keep rolling.
||[on his future] There's a good many pictures I'd like to make, we'll see how many I'll be allowed to make.
||[on The New World (2005)] I knew it would have a slow, rolling pace. Just get into it; let it roll over you. It's more of an experience film. I leave you to fend for yourself, figure things out yourself.
||[on working with Martin Sheen on Badlands (1973)] Martin Sheen was extraordinary. He's a very gifted man. He's from a working class family, so he had all the moods down for the film. And when he wasn't before the cameras, he was helping in the background, wrapping cables, packing up light reflectors. One day I found him going around a gas station and picking up aluminum snapback lids from soda cans. He knew they didn't exist in 1959.
||[on Badlands (1973)] I tried to keep the 1950s to a bare minimum. Nostalgia is a powerful feeling; it can drown out anything. I wanted the picture to set up like a fairy tale, outside time, like Treasure Island. I hoped this would, among other things, take a little of the sharpness out of the violence, but still keep its dreamy quality.