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Errol Morris: Interviews (Conversations with Filmmakers Series) Paperback – December 17, 2009
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From the Inside Flap
Interviews with the creator of The Thin Blue Line; Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control; The Fog of War; and Standard Operating Procedure
About the Author
Livia Bloom is a film curator and a contributor to the collection Imagining Reality: The Faber Book of Documentary. Her writing is published regularly in Cinema Scope .
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Before reading this book, I recommend that you look up a couple of his video interviews (e.g., with Charlie Rose or with Herzog) just to give you a sense of the sloth-like pace - i.e., the thoughtfulness - with which he speaks.
Here are some selected quotes:
I used to transcribe all of my audiotapes by myself and there were these exciting moments where you would become aware of patterns of speech, the way people talk, the way they use language, the way they express themselves, the way they don't express themselves. When you sit and transcribe interviews, you become aware of things that you would never ordinarily notice. As you actually put these words down on the page you're listening to them in a completely different way. How much can you actually learn about a person and how do they communicate just from their patterns of speech? It goes well beyond the surface content of what they're saying.
Truth is not guaranteed by style or presentation. It's not handed over on a tray like a Happy Meal. It's a quest, and often it's as interesting to chronicle people's persistent avoidance of truth as their pursuit of it. But in any event, whatever truth is, it's a linguistic and not a visual thing. I do not believe that the truth is subjective, that the truth is contextual, or that the truth is up for grabs. To me the real story behind The Thin Blue Line--and I think this is an important story to be told in general about the world--is not that the truth is unknowable but that often people are uninterested in the truth. They don't seek the truth but rather some series of answers that make them feel comfortable or answer to certain needs they might have.
The only way that people can make sense of experience, of the world, of history, is by picking and choosing from a myriad of details and facts.
Stories, by their very nature, have to be tremendously simplified versions of reality. Reality is too complex, it's too chaotic. We tell ourselves stories so we don't have to deal with reality. We create stories out of the mess of reality by eliminating material, by reinterpreting material, by rearranging material. But the investigative element is what connects the stories to the world. It's what makes stories interesting to me.
Perhaps the best thing a film can do is create something that is unusual and unique, that has emotional power, that says something unexpected. My tendency as a filmmaker is to keep going, to keep gnawing at some bone until I finally come to a conclusion that satisfies me.
I love commercials, unreservedly. The haiku of the West. And I like to think of consumerism as the most effective preventative to genocide yet devised. When someone shows up at your door and asks you to hack your neighbor to death with a machete, you're less likely to do it if you have prior plans, say, to go buy a DVD player.
Despite all of our efforts to control things, the world is much, much more powerful and deranged than we are.
During his interviews Morris is mainly very blunt, direct and explicative. Moreover, we learn that this talkative person is also a great orator. If you are interested in the work of EM this is a must read to grasp not only his thoughts but also his feelings in detail. But it would be better to see the films before reading!