Van Sant: a director in search of a pure cinema
CANNES, France (AFP) - Past Cannes winner Gus Van Sant is a director in search of a pure cinema, which can really show reality as he sees it.
Van Sant, who won the 2003 winner Palme d'Or for his film "Elephant" inspired by the Columbine High School shooting, was here for a new screening of his first film "Mala Noche" about a man in love with an illegal Mexican immigrant.
And he was casting a critical eye on the 1985 film, which is rarely shown, saying: "It looks pretty good, ... (but) when I was watching, it was kind of episodic.
"I never really noticed that before. I was watching so closely last night, because I was trying to analyze it.
"It's an older film but it's nice to be able to show it. 'Mala Noche' is sort of the first part of a trilogy, the second and third one being 'Drugstore Cowboy' and 'My Own Private Idaho.'
"Then, everything changed. 'Even Cowgirls Get The Blues' broke that line up," he told AFP.
"Mala Noche" was adapted from the novel of Walt Curtis, and shot in black and white. It is to get its first public release in France in October.
The 53-year-old director has gone on to build a major career in Hollywood, with films such as the delicious 1995 black comedy "To Die For" with Nicole Kidman, or the 1997 "Good Will Hunting" starring Matt Damon, or the 1998 remake of the Hollywood classic "Pyscho."
"Cinema is sort of an interesting method of recording and playing back. What you record and what you play back can be anything: a scientific experiment, a performance like Liza Minnelli singing, and you can also use it to tell stories, explain visually a story, observe the habitat of the penguins.
"There is so many different ways to use it," Van Sant said.
He said however that he was most interested in experimental or dramatic cinema and often drew his inspiration from novels, rather than documentaries.
But "I do believe that film doesn't need previous mediums to exist. There is a pure form we haven't really got into yet."
"Pure cinema is somehow connected with something you can read in a certain kind of novel, maybe like the Russian novels, where things take a long time," he said.
"When somebody walks across the desert, it can take 15 pages. It's also emulating what I interpret as reality as I see it, a kind of reality, so that whenever we were shooting in the last three movies especially, we were trying to think about how this would actually happen.
"It was an attempt to get away from something that's movie-real, movie-consciousness," he said, adding that films tended to concentrate on the verbal and not on action.
"Maybe because the verbal can be ... absorbing, because we like to hear ourselves talk, we like to hear the human voice. We're not interested in watching ourselves walk. We don't mind watching ourselves walk, but a few steps is enough.
"But in reality, we probably walk longer than we talk."