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a la Mod:
Strombo: "You came of age in the cinema when you guys were picking big fights with society, the counterculture movement was in fact not about just looks."
BDP: "No, no, no."
Strombo: "It was the opposite of that."
BDP: "And we had another war we shouldn't have been in: Vietnam."
Strombo: "Is that what it was, you think the war's..."
BDP: "Oh, absolutely."
Strombo: "Because then where are the countercultural films today, then?"
BDP: "That's the problem! Because you don't see many sort of political films other than the... I mean, obviously, you don't have to make political films all the time, but when you see a lot of stuff going out there that's annoying you, you would think that, you know, your blood would be stirred. That you'd go out and make a movie about it saying, 'This is not right'"
Strombo: "You obviously have to keep busy, but you also said there isn't enough anger in American cinema anymore."
BDP: "Well, I was very upset about the whole war, and what the Bush administration was doing, so that's why I made Redacted. Because I didn't think that they were telling us the truth. What else is new? Your government is lying to you, what else is new? But I felt we were doing some very bad things in far away places."
Strombo: "And you didn't think that was the right coverage of it."
BDP: "Oh, I knew-- an embedded reporter? That's like having somebody on the payroll."
DE PALMA ON RETURNING TO FILMMAKING AFTER SEVERAL YEARS
The conversation begins with Simon asking De Palma if he thought his aesthetic was conscious or unconscious as he shot his early documentary The Responsive Eye. This leads De Palma into an illuminating discussion of his process, as well as his recent work on Passion...
BDP: Look, the hard thing—I’m sure you’ve experienced this, too—is that once you have a project, you think about how you’re going to photograph the scene until you actually do it. I have always felt that the camera view is just as important as what’s in front of the camera. Consequently, I’m obsessed with how I’m shooting the scene. When you’re making a movie, you think about it all the time—you’re dreaming about it, you wake up with ideas in the middle of the night—until you actually go there and shoot it. You have these ideas that are banging around in your head, but once you objectify them and lock them into a photograph or cinema sequence, then they get away from you. They’re objectified; they no longer haunt you.
TS: The haunting can be torturous. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed the making of my work. It’s a labor. Do you find pleasure in getting to that point of objectification?
BDP: You know, there is no rest. That’s the problem. I haven’t directed a movie in several years, and I’ve forgotten what it’s like. Now I’m doing a remake, a film based on Crime d’amour , which was directed by the late Alain Corneau and written with Natalie Carter and starred Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier. It’s about two executives fighting for power. One humiliates the other, and one kills the other. It’s basically a murder mystery. In the new version, the two leads are Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace. They are extremely formidable characters. It’s all about the women—the guy is just manipulated by them, like a trained animal.
So I have basically been in this hotel room in Berlin since, I don’t know, January 6, working on this shoot. I don’t go anywhere except when I go to the set or when I have to look at a location or work with an actor.
I’m a very solitary figure on set—I just walk in. I don’t want to say hello and kiss everybody. I’m completely uninterested in that because—I’m sure you have the same feeling—when you go to shoot a movie, you’ve assembled hundreds of people waiting for you to tell them what to do. For the first time, you’ve got the actors. You have the location. You have the cinematographer. You have the weather, the light, the emotional stance of the various people around you, and it’s catching lightning in a bottle. You’re there to maximize the moment on film. And you’d better be very alert and watching everything constantly, because once you shoot it, it’s gone forever. If you make a mistake or haven’t thought everything through correctly, you will look at that mistake for the rest of your life.
TS: Yes—there’s enormous pressure on the day of shooting. And photography’s history is bound to the mistake, to the accident. But I’ve never been one to embrace surprise. I think the invisible lead-up to the point of actually taking a photograph is, in many ways, my medium. Years of research, accessing, organizing, and writing are behind the construction of a single piece. But no matter how prepared and calculated the details of the shoot days are, its imagined form always seems to crumble and mutate.
BDP: I guess a lot of people shoot alternatives. I never do that. I spend months planning it all out, and then we actually edit as we shoot. I know exactly where the camera should be and how all the film fits together.
TS: Yeah, me too.
BDP: But if something happens on the set that’s different, I immediately accommodate it. You don’t want to go in with such a rigid idea that this is the way it should be. You have to see what is there. These are living creatures in front of you.
TS: But accommodation can be dangerous. It’s important to remind yourself of what you want and not get lost in the noise of it all. Sadly, one has to do a lot of interacting, which I find distracting. I avoid lunch and conversation as much as possible. There is no time or space for anything other than the work. But there’s a perceived cruelty in that focus.
BDP: I’m exactly the same way. I never talk to my driver while going to work. I never eat lunch with anybody.
AMBIGUOUS PHOTOGRAPHS, REDACTED IMAGES, MAINSTREAM MEDIA, CONSUMERISM, SPLIT SCREENS, MARS & MORE
All of the above are discussed in this fascinating conversation, which is best read from start to finish-- click here to read the whole thing.
On his Facebook page, Mr. Uka had a link on February 15 to a 4:42 minute-long Youtube video, with pictures of detainees in Guantanamo, chanting in Arabic with German subtitles: "I can not stand this life of humiliation." The video also features pictures of fighters and the clattering of machinegun fire.
German authorities believe that Arid Uka acted alone in the attack on March 2, 2011, and was not part of any terrorist organization, nor did he have any accomplices. A New York Times article by Jack Ewing and Souad Mekhennet from July 6 lays out what happened that day:
Mr. Uka, who had a temporary job sorting mail in the airport complex, went there armed with a pistol and two knives on the afternoon of March 2, prosecutors said, as they provided additional detail on the attack.
Authorities said that Mr. Uka spotted two airmen emerging from a baggage claim area in Terminal 2 of the airport, and followed them to an exit where a United States Air Force bus was waiting. Mr. Uka watched as 16 American military service members gradually arrived, then, shortly after 3 p.m., asked one of them for a cigarette and where the soldiers were heading.
After the airman confirmed that they were on their way to Afghanistan, Mr. Uka turned around, reached into his backpack and loaded a magazine into the pistol concealed there, authorities said.
Mr. Uka waited until almost all the airmen had boarded the bus, then shot one of them, 25-year-old Senior Airman Nicholas J. Alden, in the back of the head from about five feet away, prosecutors and Air Force officials said. Airman Alden died at the scene.
Boarding the bus, Mr. Uka then fatally shot 21-year-old Airman First Class Zachary R. Cuddeback in the driver’s seat and — repeatedly shouting “God is great” — seriously wounded two other men standing in the aisle of the bus, prosecutors said. One of them was blinded in one eye as a result.
The Air Force identified the two wounded men as Senior Airman Edgar Veguilla and Staff Sgt. Kris Schneider.
Mr. Uka next aimed the pistol point-blank at a 22-year-old airman who was trying to hide behind a seat, but the weapon jammed, prosecutors said. Mr. Uka then fled, pursued by an airman. He was captured by two German police officers in the terminal.
AT THE TRIAL
An Associated Press report about the trial, while not as detailed as the Star And Stripes report, stated that the clip Uka viewed from a Facebook link the night before the attack turned out to be “a scene from the 2007 anti-war Brian De Palma film Redacted, taken out of context.” The AP report was carried by most American media outlets. However, a BBC report simply stated that the video Uka viewed was “a scene from Brian De Palma's anti-war film, Redacted,” with no mention of context. This BBC report is used as the main source in a Daily Caller post with the headline, “Terrorist credits Hollywood for his recruitment.” This post by Neil Munro is blatantly inaccurate. It opens with the following statement: “A Balkan Muslim who killed two U.S. Air Force servicemen in March has told a German judge Wednesday that he was motivated after seeing the movie Redacted, made as a political statement in 2007 by Hollywood director Brian De Palma, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and several high-profile movie industry producers.” So now, all of a sudden, Uka had actually watched Redacted, in context and all? Definitely not.
That same paragraph is copied verbatim at the beginning of a Washington Times article, which in turn is linked to in an opinion piece by Yahoo’s Mark Whittington, who apparently thinks he is sourcing from the Washington Post (his link goes to the Washington Times article). With the headline, “Did Redacted Cross the Wrong Line Between Art, Life?”, Whittington seems to think that a man named “Arid Uki” was “one of the few” people in the world who “saw an anti-American, anti-war movie called Redacted.” Whittington stretches it again by stating that “a Muslim terrorist is citing an anti-American, anti-war movie directed by a famous American director as the motivation for his crimes.” (Redacted may be anti-war, but it is certainly not anti-American.) Meanwhile, Breitbart’s Christian Toto went back to the Daily Caller’s citing of the BBC article, which led him to state that Uka “saw the film [Redacted] and went on to kill two U.S. Air Force servicemen in March.” Toto continues, “Uka told a judge this week he was inspired by ‘the movie’s graphic depiction of U.S. soldiers raping a girl in Iraq,’ says The Daily Caller citing a BBC report.” As we have seen above, the video Uka watched was a video clip that appropriated clips from Redacted. These guys are suggesting that Uka watched De Palma’s movie in full and in context, which is so far from the truth it is incredibly embarrassing. Another one who sourced from the BBC article is Adam Martin at the Atlantic Wire, who posted the misleading headline, "Kosovo Man Says He Shot U.S. Airmen After Watching Redacted."
’REDACTED’ PRODUCER KLIOT RESPONDS TO DAILY CALLER:
In any case, The Daily Caller’s Munro did get ahold of Redacted producer Jason Kliot, although he unfairly asked Kliot questions based on its own stretched truth (that Uka actually viewed Redacted). “I honestly had not heard about it,” Kliot told Munro. “I’m terribly sorry to hear that, but I don’t understand how my movie would impel anyone to commit murder. The real culprit here is the tragedy of war, it is not Brian De Palma’s brilliant film. I don’t see how people would be made to commit acts of violence [after watching Redacted], any more than they would for watching Fox News,” Kliot is quoted as saying.
KLIOT: ‘REDACTED’ IS ABOUT ENDING WARS, NOT STARTING THEM’
Later in the article, Kliot is quoted again:
“War movies… show the nature of war,” Kliot said. “There is nothing more incendiary about telling the truth of what is happening in war.”
“Do Americans kill people in wars? Yes … [but] this is pro-American film, this is a pro-troops film… [because it shows the consequences] when soldiers are put in an impossible position,” Kliot said. “Right-wing nut-jobs” criticized the movie even though they had not watched it, he said.
Kliot said his movies show many sides of warfare, and cited his 2005 movie, The War Within, which shows a Pakistani preparing to murder Americans in New York’s Grand Central Station after he was radicalized by U.S. counter-terrorism policy. “Redacted is about ending wars, not starting them,” he said.
UKA TRIAL TO LAST UNTIL JANUARY
The Stars And Stripes article describes Uka’s confession on Wednesday (the first day of a trial that will take ten days, spread out on select Wednesdays between now and January). Here is the Stars And Stripes account of Uka’s confession (written by David McHugh and David Rising):
No pleas are entered in the German system, and Uka confessed to the killings after the indictment was read, telling the court "what I did was wrong but I cannot undo what I did." He went on to urge other radical Muslims not to seek inspiration in his attack, urging them not to be taken in by "lying propaganda" on the Internet.
Uka, dressed in jeans, sneakers and a crisp white shirt with rolled-up sleeves, smiled at his attorneys as he was brought in and his handcuffs were removed. But he wept repeatedly as he recounted the attack and watched the jihadist videos he said motivated him.
"To this day I try to understand what happened and why I did it... but I don't understand," he said, at times speaking so softly that court officials had to bring in a microphone and put it directly in front of him.
Cooperating with authorities and confessing can help reduce a defendant's sentence - but Uka refused to tell the court where he obtained the 9mm semi-automatic pistol he used, which Presiding Judge Thomas Sagebiel said meant his confession was incomplete.
Uka described becoming increasingly introverted in the months before the attack, staying at home and playing computer games and watching Islamic extremist propaganda on the Internet.
The night before the crime, Uka said, he followed a link to a video posted on Facebook that purported to show American soldiers raping a teenage Muslim girl. It turned out to be a scene from the 2007 anti-war Brian De Palma film Redacted, taken out of context.
He said he then decided he should do anything possible to prevent more American soldiers from going to Afghanistan.
"I thought what I saw in that video, these people would do in Afghanistan," he told the court, his voice choking with emotion as he wiped away tears.
Uka conceded when asked by prosecutor Jochen Weingarten that the airman driving the bus had not been going to Afghanistan. On the bus on the way to the airport to look for victims, he said he listened to Islamic music on his iPod while nursing doubts that he'd be able to follow through with his plan.
"On the one hand I wanted to do something to help the women, and on the other hand I hoped I would not see any soldiers," he told the court.
He says he now does not understand why he went through with the killings.
"If you ask me why I did this, I can only say ... I don't understand anymore how I went that far."
Prosecutors introduced evidence from Uka's laptop, cell phone and iPod, which included hundreds of files containing jihadist videos, literature, sermons and songs.
One song went, "Mother be strong, your son is on jihad," and "do not mourn for me." A video showed rifle-toting Islamic fighters in Pakistan, and a bullet-holed target with "Obama" scrawled on it.
After De Palma signed on to direct Disney’s Mission To Mars, he immediately asserted to his team of creators that the mysterious spherical artifact on Mars should be the Face on Mars, as it had become a part of popular culture. He told the design team he wanted it to look like a “sleeping goddess.” As can be seen in the montage of stills above, variations on the sleeping goddess would turn out to be the key visual motif of De Palma’s cinema for the decade.
As the decade began, the figure was an intimidating wonder, inspiring hope amidst its alluring aura of danger. By the end of the decade, she came to represent the tragic soul of the repressed, the redacted—her dead eyes open as if to remind us that our own eyes have been wide shut. In each film, the sleeping goddess silently calls out like a spiritual siren. The astronauts in Mission To Mars are initially and fatefully drawn to her anomalous mystery before learning how to communicate with her, ultimately to find that she has been lying in wait for them to arrive. In Femme Fatale, her sleep becomes a premonition to the dreamer, herself the sleeping goddess of her own dream, taking on the angelic form of the drowned, sleeping Ophelia to help guide the waking femme fatale to a less fateful moral decision. She appears again as Bucky sleeps during a stakeout in The Black Dahlia, the camera making a dreamlike move over the building he and Lee are watching to reveal that off in the distance, the dead, mutilated, posed-in-the-grass figure of Betty Short seems to summon Bucky’s subconscious. The shock of the sleeping Dahlia’s return at the end of that film was turned up to eleven one year later in Redacted, which powerfully concludes with a staged photo of the violated figure, her tortured sleep exacting a furious plea to the conscience of the mind’s eye. The film ends, the music quietly fades away, and De Palma leaves us with the terrible silence of death—a death that had been covered up. With its staged photo representing (imagining?) an image that might only exist in the mind’s eye of someone who was there, Redacted demonstrates that nothing stays buried forever…
Meanwhile, I recently found this Premiere.fr interview with De Palma about Redacted that I don't believe I'd seen before.
Well, one thing happened and another thing happened. As it turned out, though I didn't know that then, it became two separate films 'cause the following early summer I decided to make "United 93," one film about a true story, very scrupulously kind of fact-driven about that central event of 9/11. I always knew I was then gonna go and make "Bourne Ultimatum." As soon as I made that, it all seemed to make sense, because I went, "Oh, okay, I get it now. I'm gonna do '93' then I'm gonna go and do a big 'Bourne' movie and then I'm gonna do something about Iraq, I don't know quite what." So I'm doing "[Bourne] Ultimatum" and I'm puzzling away what that film beyond "Ultimatum" was gonna be. I'm talking with Brian Helgeland who's a mate of mine; we'd worked together on "Bourne Supremacy" and he's a fantastic writer, and I said, "If you don't want to come and do this with me," and he said, "Sure." We're going back and forth, and to both of us, it was very obvious, several things that were at the heart of this film. Firstly, the whole point of doing the film really only worked if you were making a film that had broad appeal. In other words, to follow it up by making another "United 93"-type film didn't feel quite right 'cause I'd sorta done "United 93." I did think about it. I did think about doing a small film, but it felt to me like other people were doing that.
"THAT AUDIENCE WAS EXACTLY THE AUDIENCE THAT WAS BEING ASKED TO FIGHT THIS WAR"
Douglas then interjects, "Right, I was curious about that, because there were a lot of people making Iraq movies – Brian De Palma for instance." And then Greengrass continues:
Exactly and I sort of thought that to me, that didn't feel right. I wanted to make a film with broad appeal. Why? For this simple reason that you couldn't make a "Bourne" film--and this was my second one--without being very aware that there was a big audience of particularly young people who were coming out and really loved those movies. Of course, that audience was exactly the audience that was being asked to fight this war. The young boys who were being asked to go and fight this thing, were going to see "Bourne" movies. On the other hand, right around the other side of the spectrum, the young kids who were most opposed to this war were also going to see "Bourne" movies, see what I mean? They're not going to see small art house movies about Iraq, so to me it was like I want to make a film that those people are gonna want to go and see. It's a broad audience film, okay? Next, the whole point about the "Bourne" films was that when you distill a "Bourne" film down, what is it? Obviously, it's a conspiracy action thriller, which is a genre everybody loves.
Greengrass discusses his rationale that Green Zone needed to be somewhat recognizable as the very thing he and Matt Damon are known for. "So here's the question," he says to Douglas, "if you liked Bourne Ultimatum, will you be disappointed with this film?" Douglas then replies, "I don't know. It's hard for me to say because like I've said, I've seen far too many Iraq movies." To which Greengrass stresses...
It's nothing to do with Iraq movies. If you saw "Bourne Ultimatum" and liked it, would you be disappointed with this? 'Cause that's the prism through which people are gonna come to this, not through Brian De Palma's film 'cause they're never gonna have seen it. No disrespect to those movies, but that's the issue here. In "Bourne Supremacy" and "Bourne Ultimatum," I tried to push the envelope with those movies as close to the real world. "Ultimatum" felt like it was ripped out the headlines, didn't it? With the water boarding and the war on terror and all that stuff in there, and the journalism and the source and it felt very, very strongly contemporary.
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