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Friday, July 25, 2008

The August issue of the U.K. magazine The Word includes an interview with Brian De Palma by New York-based arts writer Tom Teodorczuk. The interview, published to coincide with the DVD release of De Palma's Redacted in the U.K., was conducted prior to the announcement last month that De Palma had signed on to direct The Boston Stranglers. The headline reads: "His Iraq movie was 'blatantly dumped', spits Brian De Palma. So now he's making another one."

In the interview, De Palma discusses his reasons for making Redacted:

With the Iraq war, we have destroyed a country. What the hell are we doing there? We've got over two million refugees wandering around in Syria and Oman and it's like, "Oops! Sorry!" The catastrophe we've caused in the world in the last eight years - talk about a loose cannon. The rest of the world must be going, "What are they going to do next?" I think we've overextended. Look at the British empire 100 years ago and how that ended up. There's something wrong with this picture. Should we be making money from oil, defense contractors and creating a tabloid version of the war?

De Palma also discussed with Teodorczuk the public reaction to Redacted:

People react to the steam. You're always amazed when people don't look at what is on the screen, but I've noticed that a lot of times in my career. Instead they react to some political view or some notion of political correctness. This is another example of that. With Scarface, 20 per cent of the audience walked out when it was released. Some of the most commercial artists make a tremendous amount of money, everybody loves them and then when they die everybody forgets about them. Some of the most uncommercial artists, everybody's ranting and raving about them during their lifetime and yet often they make the movies that stick. You've got to take shots in your career.

Discussing the public indifference to films about the Iraq war, De Palma said that people "just don't want to know about Iraq or feel conflicted about what we're doing there." Saying he's "never had a movie that was so blatantly dumped" in all his life, De Palma concluded that "They can't all be hits. Most of them aren't, and if you're making hits all the time, something may be very wrong with what you're doing."

When Teodorczuk asked him what his next film will be, De Palma stated that he was working on another script about Iraq (which we know is currently titled Print The Legend-- Teodorczuk writes that this interview took place "on a bitterly cold morning in downtown Manhattan," which indicates that it was probably in the winter while De Palma was still in the process of formulating ideas for this new film). De Palma described the project:

It has more to do with the embedded reporter stories and how the information is spun and influenced in a way that's completely the opposite of what is actually going on. In terms of how it has been reported, the war is completely spun homogenised propaganda and I feel that the press is just an arm of the administration and the big corporations that are profiting from this war. It will also feature some women soldiers. It's about what they do to people who tell the truth about the war and how they get discredited and destroyed. Like with the Valerie Plame affair. Joe Wilson said he went over there and they weren't buying yellowcake and yet that kept appearing in Bush's speeches the whole time. Then he goes to the New York Times and they destroy him.

De Palma also mentioned to Teodorczuk that he would like to film William Boyd's The Blue Afternoon. "It would make a fantastic movie," De Palma said. "It's a book I've loved for years."

In his ever iconoclastic manner, De Palma discussed his anti-establishment view of politics when Teodorczuk asked him his take on the upcoming U.S. Presidential election:

Bush has got us into a tremendous amount of trouble but it doesn't really matter who the next President is. I'm not part of the liberal establishment that has a political agenda. I don't think the liberal establishment wants to take responsibility for this war. They blame it on Bush but they were complicit in prosecuting it. Do I have strong political views? You bet. I think the best way to express them is in your work and then get the hell off the stage. Then again, you don't make movies like Mission: Impossible because you have strong political statements to say about the CIA.

When asked by Teodorczuk if he'll ever make another blockbuster, De Palma discussed his ambivalence at working on genre pictures:

I don't know. I'm really at an age where I don't think I have to prove anything to anybody anymore, least of all myself. It's like, "Do you really want to go through all that?" Worse than being dead is being hot. But if you want to continue making movies, you have to make genre pictures every once in a while that make people a lot of money. Since I can get very interested in the visualization of action, I can work in those genres like with The Untouchables or Mission: Impossible. I do it every once in a while. Everybody says, "Oh, you're back", but it's not where my heart lies.

Posted by Geoff at 2:36 AM CDT
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