Brian De Palma Poster

Quotes (41)

  • The camera lies all the time; lies 24 times/second.
  • [on why he would not add rap songs to the soundtrack of Scarface (1983)] They said it would help promotion, presenting the film in a different way, but Giorgio's [composer Giorgio Moroder] music was true to the period, I argued - and no one changes the scores on movies by Martin Scorsese, John Ford, David Lean. If this is the "masterpiece" you say, leave it alone. I fought them tooth and nail and was the odd man out, not an unusual place for me. I have final cut, so that stopped them dead.
  • I'm astounded there aren't more American political films. I'm amazed, when you can make movies for nothing, there are not people out there making these incredibly angry anti-war movies. How come? [Sept.2006]
  • I've never been accepted as that conventional artist. Whatever you say about David Lynch or Martin Scorsese, they are considered major film artists and nobody can argue with that. I've never had that. I've had people say it about me. And I've had people say that I'm a complete hack and, you know, derivative and all those catchphrases that people use for me. So I've always been controversial. People hate me or love me.
  • My films deal with a stylized, expressionistic world that has a kind of grotesque beauty about it.
  • I like stylization. I try to get away with as much as possible until people start laughing at it.
  • I have a reputation as an action director because I know how to kill, how to shoot people, how to spill blood.
  • [on Alfred Hitchcock] He is the one who distilled the essence of film. He's like Webster. It's all there. I've used a lot of his grammar.
  • [on Sissy Spacek] Sissy's a phantom. She has this mysterious way of slipping into a part, letting it take over her. She's got a wider range than any young actress I know.
  • It's hard to make movies where you put women in peril any more. You can't really stalk women around anymore. It's very difficult. It's sort of unsettling to field a lot of hostile questions about why you keep doing this and why you dislike women so much. You say, "It's a murder mystery, I'm running out of victims." It's all right to kill men, but women are out. No one complained when I killed a man in "Sisters."
  • [1987 comment on Robert De Niro] He's very low-key and concentrated when he's working. The thing that gets in the way of his work is people staring at him. So what you have to do on the set when he's working is to get people who are just going to gawk out of his eyeline. With the other actors, he's very tuned, very responsive.
  • So much of shooting sex scenes in movies you a see are naked people sort of humping each other on a bed, shot in the most unflattering way just because they happen to be naked and mimicking making love. They don't really dramatize their particular sexual attraction to each other. And it's very difficult. You have to find a way, a visual way to approach scenes like that.
  • Women are more sympathetic creatures in jeopardy, plus they're more interesting to photograph. I'd rather photograph a woman walking around with a candelabra than a guy. It's as simple as that. Somebody once said that the history of cinema was made photographing women, and I think one could truthfully say that.
  • I'm not interested in a lot of talk. Talk to me is very boring and a lot of people just put that up there all the time. You have many films with these long character scenes, with extremely in-depth analysis, and what you have is a lot of characters sitting around talking to each other. Which does little to excite me in terms of the possibilities of what you can do with cinema. So I have those sequences in when they're necessary, but I certainly don't structure my film around them. And most of cinema today is driven by television, which is all talk - I tend to be the counterprogramming director.
  • [on The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)] The initial conception of it was incorrect. If you're going to do The Bonfire of the Vanities you would have to make it a lot darker and a lot more cynical, but because it was such an expensive movie we tried to humanise the Sherman McCoy character - a very unlikeable character, much like the character in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). We could have done that if we'd been making a low budget movie, but this was a studio movie with Tom Hanks in it. I think John Lithgow would have been a better choice for Sherman McCoy, because he would have got the blue-blood arrogance of the character. But I mean, nobody realised it was going wrong when we were making it. We were very enthusiastic about what we were doing. I thought we were going to get away with it, but we didn't. I knew that the people who had read the book were going to be extremely unhappy. I think if you look at the movie now, and you don't know anything about the book, and you get it out of the time that it was released, I think you can see it in a whole different way.
  • I don't think I do referencing, I use ideas which I think are effective in this particular piece at the moment. If they've been used before, fine. I mean, who cares? To me, it's all grammar. If I've got that word available and it was used before and if I can use it again more effectively for my piece - why not? It's the history of art from the beginning of time. Why do you think painters still paint Chartres Cathedral? Do you think they should be painting some rock in a garden? But they have this incredible architectural thing in front of them! Are they copying, are they simulating it? Well, maybe they have a different interpretation of the piece of art that's in front of them. I mean, how unusual...
  • [on Al Pacino] One of the many things that makes Pacino such a fine actor is the way he moves. He's an incredible mover. When we were making Carlito's Way (1993) I couldn't wait to get out and start shooting, just to see him walk around while shooting a scene.
  • [on why he made The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)] Making movies is not some very organic development. You're at a certain time in your life with twenty thousand reasons to make that decision. At a different time, you wouldn't make that same decision. It's where you are in your career, in your life. With The Bonfire of the Vanities, I read the book and loved it and wanted to try to adapt a book into a movie. I had made a particular sorrowful movie before, and I wanted to make something that was kind of cynical and sarcastic and not as emotional. There's a whole swirl of emotions that go into that decision. A lot of times you make movies because you don't want to think about what's happening with the movie you just made. You don't want to think about the reviews out there or about how you're going to survive the pummeling that you're getting. That's how I made the decision to make 'Bonfire'. It may not have been the right decision, but it still feels to me like it was the right decision.
  • [on filming Passion (2012), with Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams] We had a pretty easy time casting the Isabelle part [Noomi], but it was difficult to get people to want to play the heavy - to play Christine. Because, I don't know, people don't always like to play bad, manipulative characters, even though they are the most interesting characters there are sometimes. Fortunately they had just finished [Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)] and liked working together, so were fortunate to get Rachel to play this part.
  • Some of my films that have gotten the worst reviews are the ones they keep talking about today, so it's hard for me to really assess the long-term effect of them. I can't take it too seriously. Basically, you're being judged against the fashion of the day and, of course, the fashion of the day changes all the time. So what endures is what's important, I guess, and I'm just very fortunate that I've made movies that seem to have endured.
  • My films deal with a stylized, expressionistic world that has a kind of grotesque beauty about it.
  • [on whether he saw the film Hitchcock (2012)] Yes, I bought the book to see if it was actually real, what happened? I don't remember Hitchcock having problems with his marriage during the making of Psycho (1960). So, I thought it was interesting, but is it true?
  • A year ago, I saw Bruno Dumont's Flandres (2006), and that really got me thinking about war movies. I find his stuff extremely inventive and very compelling. So I went back and looked at all his movies.[Nov.15 2007]
  • [on De Palma (2015)] I tend to be attracted to filmmakers who are not like me at all. I met Noah [Noah Baumbach] almost 20 years ago - I immediately liked him, he's very bright. Because we approach cinema from different directions, we were fascinated by our different views on how to tell a story. They did their interview with me five years ago, in Jake Paltrow's living room, shooting on this digital camera, with Noah doing the sound. It was like the old cinema school days - you had three people and that was your crew.[2015]
  • [on The Untouchables (1987)] I got the script from Paramount, the David Mamet script. And I liked it quite a lot.
  • I am one of the rare directors to have had his negatives stolen.
  • [on De Palma (2015)] Noah [Noah Baumbach] and Jake [Jake Paltrow'] were interested in this new digital camera, so Jake bought one. They wanted to make a record of all these stories that I'd told them over the years when we'd had dinner together, so they sat me down in Jake's living room. Jake operated the camera, Noah did the sound, and they would just ask me questions. [2016]
  • [on De Palma (2015)] I hope that, much like the book ['The Devil's Candy'] about The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), you just have an honest portrayal of what the process is like, you don't pull any punches, you say exactly what happened. That's the only way to convey to young audiences or people interested in movies how the system works. As you know, film journalism is mostly spin. You talk to people, they say the experience was great, I love working with so and so, it's the best experience I ever had. And not until you're in the Hollywood old-age home do you have anybody tell you the truth. [2016]
  • Well, the bigger the budgets, the more meetings you have. And if you have a very small budget you have a lot of control, and you don't have any meetings. So, it depends on the material and what you need in order to make the story effective. [2016]
  • I go to film festivals and see movies, and I watch a lot of stuff on TCM, and I'm exploring an actor that I might think might be right for something I'm working on, I go and look at all their movies. [2016]
  • You try to do the best you can under the circumstances it's intended with. And if you're fortunate, and if everything is clicking that day, you might come up with something remarkable. I can't think of many instances where I left the playing field and not accomplishing what I set out to do. [2016]
  • A movie is a work of art. It either exists and people keep looking at it, or it vanishes. So, I have very little to do with it, and a movie has basically got to find its own way. And many of my movies, people are still looking at 30 or 40 years later, so I guess there's some value in it, because they've existed through the ages. [2016]
  • [on directing] Well you have to be incredibly prepared, because you have to have a plan when you go to shoot. But things happen: The weather, how the actor feels, what somebody ate the night before. You have to be aware and you have to be able to improvise, depending on what is happening in the moment. There's nothing like preparation for dealing with situations like that, so that you can shift from one thing to another painlessly. (...) For The Fury (1978) there was a very complicated panning shot that Carrie [Carrie Snodgress] didn't want to do, because she had to hit certain marks for it to work. She just couldn't get her head around why she had to be at a certain place at a certain time, because it didn't seem natural to her. So I had to sort of carefully adjust the shot to something that she understood in order to make it work, so that what I wanted to do and what she wanted to do was in harmony. And it all worked out fine. And she didn't quite understand it until she saw the rushes. [2016]
  • [on acting for cinema] I don't think anybody had to give Steve McQueen any acting concepts, he was just a presence. And a lot of that works in cinema, when you crowd material around a certain movie star. But you have to be very patient and loving with your actors, because they're putting everything on the line, and you have to try to get everything out of the way to not hurt their performances or distract them. [2016]
  • [on Martin Scorsese] I think Marty gets these incredible performances from actors mainly because he spends a lot of time in developing kind of deep character relationships.
  • What's unique to cinema, unlike any other art form, is that you can show the audience and the character the same piece of information. They see what the character is seeing.
  • Casualties of War (1989) brought the whole experience of what happens to a group of young boys in Vietnam into focus, and detailed how the experience of the war changes them and how they deal with really strong ethical problems in the field.
  • My father was an orthopedic surgeon and I often watched him operate. To my young mind these (images) were just as terrifying as medieval paintings of the tortures of the martyrs...and just as grisly.
  • I've always felt that I have taken the ideas of Hitchcock and tried to develop them further.
  • I love movies that use completely visual devices to tell stories.
  • The position of the camera is as important as what you're photographing.