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Sunday, May 15, 2011
DE PALMA IN RARE 1983 TMC SEGMENT
DISCUSSES 'SCARFACE' AND MORALITY WITHIN CAPITALIST SOCIETY

The above video is from a 1983 segment on The Movie Channel. It features Brian De Palma discussing his latest film, Scarface, and defending himself against accusations that he uses violence in his films for a profit motive. De Palma makes some clear, well thought-out points about his place in a capitalist society in which all of us are involved, by definition, in a profit motive. He explains that his use of violence is simply part of his aesthetic interest as an artist, and it so happens that he creates art within a profit-driven society. In the middle of the video, De Palma discusses Tony Montana's drive to success:

When you set on a trail to become rich and successful, and you look at all the decisions you made, and all the steps on the way up, and you decide, "Well, was that really the right thing to do, or did I do that in order to get from step A to step B?" I mean, this is sort of the subject of Shakespeare, and Paddy Chayefsky, and, you know, Arthur Miller. Now, what are the moral issues here? But the fact that our society celebrates success at any cost makes it a very difficult line to find.

De Palma also says that Al Pacino's performance in Scarface is incredible, and that he was proud to be able to help the actor create such a performance. At the end of the piece, he discusses how amazing it is that most directors one talks to have a total commitment to what they are doing. "They're not in here to play games," De Palma says. "When I talk to my friends, like Scorsese or Spielberg or Lucas or Coppola, these guys are driven. They've been to the top, they've been to the bottom, they've seen it all, and they're still going. Because they have a commitment and belief in what they're doing, they've had some success to see that their visions can in fact be realized, and they're just gonna keep going until they fall down."


Posted by Geoff at 1:37 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, May 15, 2011 1:40 PM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink | Share This Post

Monday, May 16, 2011 - 1:51 AM CDT

Name: "Ryan Clark"
Home Page: http://thrill-me.blogspot.com

Wow, great interview!  You can tell that De Palma is REALLY tired of the same old questions by this point.  Who can blame him for being bored and pissed off?  Of course, it only got worse when Body Double was released.

Also, it says in the video description that the segment is from 1984, not 1983.  Thought you'd want to know.

Monday, May 16, 2011 - 9:47 AM CDT

Name: "Geoff"
Home Page: http://www.briandepalma.org

Thanks, Ryan-- but since the film was released late in 1983, and usually these sort of segments are produced and appear upon a film's release in order to promote the film, I'm going to stick with 1983. I'm sure this segment was probably shown repeatedly on the channel going into 1984.

Monday, May 16, 2011 - 1:06 PM CDT

Name: "John Presnall"

Thanks for finding and sharing this video. I like BDP's comments about Tony's honesty as a criminal compared to his critics' lack of honesty as being analogous to his own film making in regard to the dishonesty of his critics. I also like the comments that one must work and live within moral constraints, but that it is difficult to define success rightly done and understood in capitalism. Interesting stuff.

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