BLANK & HERZOG
The late Les Blank with longtime friend Werner Herzog.
This interview gives a good overview of his background, and this post includes clips. Watch a couple of his public domain films here. Or do yourself a favor and find the complete version of Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers. His films and life were woven within a community of filmmakers who were enormously influential. One whimsical piece famously portrayed his colleague Werner Herzog eating his shoe on the occasion of their mutual acquaintance Errol Morris’ making of his first film, Gates of Heaven. Burden of Dreams shows Herzog in full craziness making Fitzcarraldo. Also check out long time collaborator Maureen Gosling, and Les’ son Harrod Blank: art car enthusiast and fellow documentary filmmaker.
R.I.P. Les Blank (1935-2013)
There is a certain resemblance between a work of art and a person. Just as one can talk about a person’s soul, one can also talk about the work of art’s soul, its personality.
The soul is shown through the style, which is the artist’s way of giving expression to his perception of the material. The style is important in attaching inspiration to artistic form. Through the style, the artist molds the many details that make it whole. Through style, he gets others to see the material through his eyes.
Carl Theodor Dreyer, Thoughts on My Métier (Profession)
“I suppose I am interested in the variety of human life—how people live. I am most interested in individuals and how they respond to challenges or to difficulties, or just to each other. I am curious about people. So that’s why I do a lot of different things. The cinema should be human and be part of people’s lives; it should focus on ordinary existences in sometimes extraordinary situations and places. That is what really motivates me.”
Born April 21, 1948
“I think it’s life; cinema is life. When we move, when we say hello, when we do anything at all, the cinema changes our lives completely. We are conditioned by cinema. The world of these images has become more and more important to us, because people need to see something different from their normal lives in order to keep living. The cinema is not the way to escape our lives; it is the way to complete our lives.” — Jess Franco
R.I.P. Senor Franco
Kenneth Anger © Matthew Stone
“I forget who said that films are desires visualized, but for me, at least, film is the visualization of the director’s desire. But the director’s desire doesn’t appear in the film directly. It appears in all kinds of convoluted forms. My fear that my desire will appear in my films has always caused me to be extremely wary of making films, hasn’t it? Haven’t I made films to hide my desires instead? Trying to hide them made them appear even more vividly.”
March 31, 1932 – January 15, 2013
What is a good part and an unwelcoming part of being successful?
My aim, my goal is always to be able to make the next one, the next film. I’m the most happy when I am allowed to just be in the process of making a film. I forget a lot of those nervous and terrible thoughts that one has if you have too much time to look at yourself from the outside, to think, “What sort of films should I be making now?” or trying to be too strategic. It can lead you into a crisis. I think it’s healthy to just work and to try to be a bit quick, intuitive. For me, that’s something I’m always trying to learn because I can over-think things sometimes.
Are you more logical than intuitive?
I never understood the dichotomy or the separation between being emotional and being intellectual. They’re fortunately or unfortunately very closely connected, depending on a good or bad day. It’s wonderful to get attention and to know that the word gets out there and connects with people. That’s a really satisfying good thing. At the same time I’m learning that you become very vulnerable. I’m not used to that kind of big attention and I really care what people think. When you go out there with something, you’ll have wonderful meetings with people who love what you do but you’ll also meet hatred or skepticism. It’s risking being out there with other people. You will ultimately not have everyone like you and need to accept that. That’s life.