'PASSION' IS SET "IN THE SURREALISTIC WORLD OF ADVERTISING, WHICH RAISES EVEN MORE QUESTIONS & FEWER GENUINE ANSWERS"
The Weser Kurier's Kerstin Lindemann interviews Brian De Palma about Passion, his career, and computer games. Here is a Google-assisted translation:
Kurier: Mr. De Palma, you recently said that in the last five years it has been difficult for you to make a film. Why is that?
Brian De Palma: I wrote some more political screenplays, but the productions did not get financed. But that's just life in the film industry: You put work into a project that is about to go into production, then it does not work out. Or you get another offer, but maybe you do not want to do it. We work up a new project. So I do not spend the whole day at the beach or on the sofa watching football on TV, but working. This project here I liked, for example.
De Palma: Because "Passion" is a very clever mystery story, where you always keep the audience in doubt as to who is the murderer and who is not. And I set the whole thing in the surrealistic world of advertising, which raises even more questions and fewer genuine answers.
Kurier: Why does Hollywood scarcely make movies like "Passion", aimed at an adult audience?
De Palma: Because many filmmakers, who select the adult themes, are not at all interested in a career in the studio system. The members of the "Sundance generation": their movies cost five to ten million dollars and make 20 million. The development of their projects take years. People in their mid-40s may only have shot four films. At that age, I had already directed 15 films.
Kurier: And with not too bad earnings?
De Palma: I certainly have also earned a lot of money (laughs). But at that time we were all taken up, because we wanted to make a career in the studio system. A few of my friends from back then are now billionaires: George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Francis Coppola, for example, have earned very much. This was something new in the history of directing. Directors were previously employed in the old Hollywood. They made one film after another for a studio, putting out 50, 60 or even 100 movies. Today we create maybe 30 our whole life. I'm not a fan of five-year development cycles for film projects. We are directors. We should be filming, not developing. All the directors I admire have filmed a lot. In fact you get better with every film you make.
Kurier: That sounds a little bitter ...
De Palma: Perhaps it may seem that way because I've spent almost my entire professional life trying to defend my movies. I'm not a particular fan of film critics, because very few seem to see what happens on the screen. This is very inconvenient for my visual style. Even with "Scarface" they savaged me, and years later, the film was considered very good and suddenly became a classic.
Kurier: Are you all in all happy with the course of your career?
De Palma: Yes, I would say so. I'm pretty happy because basically everything I made was what I wanted to shoot at the time. Nevertheless, any exciting career has its ups and downs. Also, I'm glad I'm still able to make films. That fact alone is already a great thing.
Kurier: You have completed a physics degree. How much you are still interested in modern technology?
De Palma: Very much. My brother and I were always completely computer crazy. We used pretty much every computer at home, every one that hit the market. We’d have it tested and tried, how powerful it is. And we played computer games, back in the seventies! At that time, I also played with Steven Spielberg, a game called "Pong", during the filming of "Jaws".
Kurier: And what do you play today with Steven?
De Palma: Steven Spielberg is the master of flight simulation. You put in any flight simulator, and he brings the craft down safely, no matter which aircraft. Breathtaking. But whenever I have a new game, no matter what, he comes over and we try it out.
Kurier: Why don’t you develop one yourself, if you are so excited about it?
De Palma: Are you kidding me? That would be as if I wanted to learn a new language at 73. It would be incredibly time-consuming, to familiarize myself with that. And time, as any 73-year-old will confirm, no longer works for me at my age.