Trevanian's Desk/On film
I asked Trevanian, 'You could have stayed in theatre. You were beginning to be noticed as a director.'
'It's true. I had already withdrawn from theatre just when the jobs were coming in but, and for a time, I wanted very much to make films, so I headed in that direction...although I quit the theatre because I was beginning to dislike the company. Naturally skilled and well-trained though I was, directing in theatre would involve working with actors and producers. Actors are children...precious, petulant, often charming, but uncomfortably fragile people to work with. After all, we're dealing with people who like nothing better than being somebody they are not. And as for theatre or film producers...they have everything in common with the used car salesmen, the double glazing pushers, the merchant bankers and the drug dealers.
I've always been interested in film, perhaps because I had the good luck to live through several of its golden ages...The last and greatest moments of the silent film in Germany at the end of the 20s, in America in the 30s when it was the 'people's art'; in Britain with the documentary through the very late 20s and most of the 30s - so brilliant, dignified, and dedicated; In Italy with the documentaries of the late 40s and in Japan through the 50s.
I was a solid, well-trained trained theatre director, and I thought of bringing those skills and abilities out in film, so I learned all about camera work, and editing, and lighting, and eventually I taught film directing, editing, and film writing, and there were a small number (7) of films that wanted to make. (Two of those I later produced as novels: The Main and The Summer of Katya.) But I always knew that my feelings for film were infatuation, not a great love, because in the last analysis, there is nothing of great meat and matter in the film...the only really grand thing about film is the cost.
So far as real matter goes, the film contains about as much as your average short story. That's why it's so popular with the masses...and that's why the great film-makers have all been children...children arrested in development. The movies are the artistic manifestation of a principle I learned from the owner of a hamburger counter in a 20-truck carnival that used to bang around the Northwest: It ain't the taste you sell, its the sizzle.
Films are all sizzle. They're hollow eggs. The richest and densest of them has about the same amount of content as a short story. They are snack food. Tastily prepared, crisp, crunchy, spicy but almost totally without nutritional value. But still, there are those great moments. Like the ending of The Third Man; and the opening shot of a Touch of Evil, almost any ten minutes of The Three-Ten to Yuma, Mifuni Toshiro's shrug in Yojimbo, Shimura Takashi in The Seven Samurai.'click here for Trevanian's list of 100 Best Pre-1970 Films
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