Andrei Tarkovsky, Dir. / 1975
I see it as the clearest evidence of genius when an artist follows his conception, his idea, his principle, so unswervingly that he has this truth of his constantly in his control, never letting go of it even for the sake of his own enjoyment of his work.
… [Robert] Bresson is perhaps the only man in the cinema to have achieved the perfect fusion of the finished work with a concept theoretically formulated beforehand. I know of no other artist as consistent as he is in this respect. His guiding principle was the elimination of what is known as ‘expressiveness’, in the sense that he wanted to do away with the frontier between the image and actual life; that is, to render life itself graphic and expressive. No special feeding in of material, nothing laboured, nothing that smacks of deliberate generalisation. Paul Valéry could have been thinking of Bresson when he wrote: ‘Perfection is achieved only by avoiding everything that might make for conscious exaggeration.’
Diary of a Country Priest
Bresson, Dir. / 1951
The artist cannot make a specific aim of being understandable— it would be quite as absurd as its opposite: trying to be incomprehensible.
When I say I cannot influence an audience’s attitude to myself, I’m attempting to formulate my own professional task. It’s clearly very simple: to do what one has to, giving of one’s utmost, and judging oneself by the most rigorous standards. How can there then be any question of thinking about ‘pleasing the audience’, or worry about ‘giving the public an example to emulate’? What audience? The anonymous masses? Robots?
In a word, the image [in film] is not a certain meaning, expressed by the director, but an entire world reflected as in a drop of water.
The function of the image, as [Nikolai] Gogol said, is to express life itself, not ideas or arguments about life. It does not signify life or symbolise it, but embodies it, expressing its uniqueness.
A book read by a thousand different people is a thousand different books.
Through a Glass Dakrly
Bergman, Dir. / 1961
I have a horror of tags and labels. I don’t understand, for instance, how people can talk about [Ingmar] Bergman’s ‘symbolism’. Far from being symbolic, he seems to me, through an almost biological naturalism, to arrive at the spiritual truth about human life that is important to him.
All creative work strives for simplicity, for perfectly simple expression; and this means reaching down into the furthest depths of the recreation of life. But that is the most painful part of creative work; finding the shortest path between what you want to say or express and its ultimate reproduction in the finished image. The struggle for simplicity is the painful search for a form adequate to the truth you have grasped.
– from Sculpting in Time, Andrei Tarkovsky
(Trans. Kitty Hunter-Blair)
Tarkovsky, Dir. / 1972