Quotes about Film by Famous Film Directors

D.W. Griffith

"There will never be talking pictures."

"Remember how small the world was before I came along? I brought it all to life: I moved the whole world onto a 20-foot screen."

"Actors should never be important. Only directors should have power and place."

"Talkies, squeakies, moanies, songies, squawkies . . . Just give them ten years to develop and you're going to see the greatest artistic medium the world has known."

"Movies are written in sand: applauded today, forgotten tomorrow."

"We have taken beauty and exchanged it for stilted voices."

Alfred Hitchcock, head-and-shoulders portrait.
Alfred Hitchcock, head-and-shoulders portrait. | Source

Alfred Hitchcock

"What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out."

"The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder."

"A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it."

"Self-plagiarism is style."

"Always make the audience suffer as much as possible."

"I am to provide the public with beneficial shocks."

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them."

"If you can't do it naturally, then fake it."

"Dialogue should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something that comes out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms."

"Really, the novelist has the best casting since he doesn't have to cope with the actors and all the rest."

"When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, 'It's in the script.' If he says, 'But what's my motivation?, ' I say, 'Your salary.'"

"A glimpse into the world proves that horror is nothing other than reality."

"Although I do not profess to be an authority on women, I fear that the perfect title [for a movie], like the perfect woman is difficult to find."

"In films murders are always very clean. I show how difficult it is and what a messy thing it is to kill a man."

"In feature films the director is God; in documentary films God is the director."

"T.V. has brought murder back into the home where it belongs."

"Television is like the invention of indoor plumbing. It didn't change people's habits. It just kept them inside the house."

"Some films are slices of life, mine are slices of cake."

"It seems to me that television is exactly like a gun. Your enjoyment of it is determined by which end of it you're on."

"I never said actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle."

"The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture."

"In many of the films now being made, there is very little cinema: they are mostly what I call 'photographs of people talking.' When we tell a story in cinema we should resort to dialogue only when it's impossible to do otherwise. I always try to tell a story in the cinematic way, through a succession of shots and bits of film in between."

"If it's a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on."

"I am scared easily, here is a list of my adrenaline - production: 1: small children, 2: policemen, 3: high places, 4: that my next movie will not be as good as the last one."

"The picture's over. Now I have to go and put it on film."

"Vertigo" Official Trailer

Billy Wilder

"A director must be a policeman, a midwife, a psychoanalyst, a sycophant and a bastard."

"As a class, Americans are extremely impatient. While they are the first to catch onto a joke, they are also the quickest to get bored. In Europe, a film producer can take his time establishing a mood. He can have dozens of dissolves of clouds. Americans audiences will not sit still for them, no matter how beautiful or exciting they may be. If they show the second cloud shot they expect to see an airplane in it. Then, if there's a third, they expect to see the plane explode in mid-air. The story must progress with every angle."

"Shoot a few scenes out of focus. I want to win the foreign film award.
An actor entering through the door, you've got nothing. But if he enters through the window, you've got a situation."

"I have ten commandments. The first nine are, thou shalt not bore. The tenth is, thou shalt have right of final cut."

"Don't be too clever for an audience. Make it obvious. Make the subtleties obvious also."

"My Aunt Minnie would always be punctual and never hold up production, but who would pay to see my Aunt Minnie?"

"The best director is the one you don't see."

"What critics call dirty in our pictures, they call lusty in foreign films."

Orson Welles in 1937
Orson Welles in 1937 | Source

Orson Welles

"A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet."

"Movie directing is a perfect refuge for the mediocre."

"Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn."

"I can think of nothing that an audience won't understand. The only problem is to interest them;once they are interested, they understand anything in the world."

"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story."

"I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they won't contribute anything themselves. Give them just a suggestion and you get them working with you. That's what gives the theater meaning: when it becomes a social act."

"In my opinion, there are two things that can absolutely not be carried to the screen: the realistic presentation of the sexual act and praying to God."

"If you've noticed that I don't use long takes, it's not because I don't like them, but because no one gives me the necessary means to treat myself to them. It's more economical to make one image, then this image and then that image, and try to control them later, in the editing studio."

"A writer needs a pen, an artist needs a brush, but a filmmaker needs an army."

"My kind of director is an actor-director who writes."

"I don't believe in learning from other peoples pictures. I think you should learn from your own interior vision of things and discover, as I say, innocently, as though there had never been anybody."

"The essential is to excite the spectators. If that means playing Hamlet on a flying trapeze or in an aquarium, you do it."

"The notion of directing a film is the invention of critics - the whole eloquence of cinema is achieved in the editing room."

"I would rather be on the set than doing anything."

"I think I made essential a mistake in staying in movies, because I - but it's a mistake I can't regret, because it's like saying, 'I shouldn't have stayed married to that woman, but I did because I love her.'"

"The first thing one must remember about film is that it is a young medium. And it is essential for every responsible artist to cultivate the ground that has been left fallow."

"I have wasted the greater part of my life looking for money and trying to get along, trying to make my work from this terribly expensive paintbox, which is a movie. And I've spent too much energy on things that have nothing to do with making a movie. It's about two percent moviemaking and ninety-eight percent hustling It's no way to spend a life."

"Touch of Evil" Official Trailer

John Kassavetes

"People have said that my films are very difficult to watch, that they're experiences you are put through rather than ones you enjoy, and it's true."

"You know as a director what you want, but the film is smarter than you, the film says no, the film says there's something more here."

"A good movie will ask you questions you don't already know the answers to. Why would I want to make a film about something I already understand?"

"I would put my pictures up against anybody's in this world. Certainly in my own day I bow to no one. I don't think there's another director in the world who works harder to make better films than I do."

"You can fail in films because you don't have the talent, or you have too much humility, or you lack ferociousness. I'm a gangster. If I want something, I'll grab it."

"The camera is the slave to the actor."

"When I'm told that our films are painful, I think, oh God, I know real pain. We soften our pictures so tremendously. We make them almost romantic fantasies, and just barely touch on these things in a more idealistic way than other people do."

"There is no reason why a serious film, one about life, can't be enjoyable, maybe even fun. Emotions can be very entertaining, you know. I try to use them generously in my films."

"Everyone who makes a film is at the major distributors' mercy."

"Commercial movies have no feeling, no sensitivity. Most people tell me people won't understand films with feeling. But everyone can feel."

"I won't make shorthand films, because I don't want to manipulate audiences into assuming quick, manufactured truths."

"We only have two hours to change people's lives."

"Films today show only a dream world and have lost touch with the way people really are..."

"I like to act in films, I like to shoot 'em, I like to direct 'em, I like to be around 'em. I like the feel of it and it's something I respect. It doesn't make any difference whether it's a crappy film or a good film. Anyone who can make a film, I already love. But I feel sorry if they don't put any thought in it because then they missed the boat."

Self-portrait of Stanley Kubrick with a Leica III camera.
Self-portrait of Stanley Kubrick with a Leica III camera. | Source

Stanley Kubrick

"One man writes a novel. One man writes a symphony. It is essential that one man make a film."

"If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed."

"A filmmaker has almost the same freedom as a novelist has when he buys himself some paper."

"If chess has any relationship to film-making, it would be in the way it helps you develop patience and discipline in choosing between alternatives at a time when an impulsive decision seems very attractive."

"A film is - or should be - more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what's behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later."

"Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all."

"I've never achieved spectacular success with a film. My reputation has grown slowly. I suppose you could say that I'm a successful filmmaker-in that a number of people speak well of me. But none of my films have received unanimously positive reviews, and none have done blockbuster business."

"The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle."

"The lasting and ultimately most important reputation of a film is not based on reviews, but on what, if anything, people say about it over the years, and on how much affection for it they have."

Ingmar Bergman

"Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls."

"The film medium is some sort of magic. I think also it's a magic that every frame comes and stands still for a fraction of a second and then it darkens. A half part of the time when you see a picture you sit in complete darkness. Isn't that fascinating? That is magic."

"When we experience a film, we consciously prime ourselves for illusion. Putting aside will and intellect, we make way for it in our imagination. The sequence of pictures plays directly on our feelings. Music works in the same fashion; I would say that there is no art form that has so much in common with film as music. Both affect our emotions directly, not via the intellect. And film is mainly rhythm; it is inhalation and exhalation in continuous sequence."

"I write scripts to serve as skeletons awaiting the flesh and sinew of images."

Federico Fellini in the Seventies
Federico Fellini in the Seventies | Source

Federico Fellini

"Even if I set out to make a film about a fillet of sole, it would be about me."

"As a writer and director, I want to know what is behind the good manners and soft voice. Who is inside the silhouette?"

"No critic writing about a film could say more than the film itself, although they do their best to make us think the oppposite."

"A good opening and a good ending make for a good film provide they come close together."

"I’m just a storyteller, and the cinema happens to be my medium. I like it because it recreates life in movement, enlarges it, enhances it, distills it. For me, it’s far closer to the miraculous creation of life than, say, a painting or music or even literature. It’s not just an art form; it’s actually a new form of life, with its own rhythms, cadences, perspectives and transparencies. It’s my way of telling a story."

"I don’t like the idea of “understanding” a film. I don’t believe that rational understanding is an essential element in the reception of any work of art. Either a film has something to say to you or it hasn’t. If you are moved by it, you don’t need it explained to you. If not, no explanation can make you moved by it."

"I even see the cinema itself as a woman, with its alternation of light and darkness, of appearing and disappearing images."

"The only place where you can be a dictator and still be loved is on the movie set."

"Going to the cinema is like returning to the womb; you sit there still and meditative in the darkness, waiting for life to appear on the screen. One should go to the cinema with the innocence of a fetus."

"The public has lost the habit of movie-going because the cinema no longer possesses the charm, the hypnotic charisma, the authority it once commanded. The image it once held for us all — that of a dream we dreamt with our eyes open — has disappeared. Is it still possible that one thousand people might group together in the dark and experience the dream that a single individual has directed?"

Akira Kurosawa

"There is nothing that says more about its creator than the work itself."

"Movie directors, or should I say people who create things, are very greedy and they can never be satisfied... That's why they can keep on working. I've been able to work for so long because I think next time, I'll make something good."

"I like unformed characters. This may be because, no matter how old I get, I am still unformed myself."

"The films an audience really enjoys are the ones that were enjoyable in the making. Yet pleasure in the work can’t be achieved unless you know you have put all of your strength into it and have done your best to make it come alive. A film made in this spirit reveals the hearts of the crew."

"I suppose all of my films have a common theme. If I think about it, though, the only theme I can think of is really a question: Why can’t people be happier together?"

"I like silent pictures and I always have ... I wanted to restore some of this beauty. I thought of it, I remember in this way: one of techniques of modern art is simplification, and that I must therefore simplify this film."

"With a good script a good director can produce a masterpiece; with the same script a mediocre director can make a passable film. But with a bad script even a good director can’t possibly make a good film. For truly cinematic expression, the camera and the microphone must be able to cross both fire and water. That is what makes a real movie. The script must be something that has the power to do this."

"Human beings share the same common problems. A film can only be understood if it depicts these properly."

"Seven Samurai" Trailer

Francois Truffaut

“Film lovers are sick people.”

"All film directors, whether famous or obscure, regard themselves as misunderstood or underrated. Because of that, they all lie. They're obliged to overstate their own importance."

"Some day I'll make a film that critics will like. When I have money to waste."

"The film of tomorrow will be an act of love."

"I demand that a film express either the joy of making cinema or the agony of making cinema. I am not at all interested in anything in between."

"The film of tomorrow will not be directed by civil servants of the camera, but by artists for whom shooting a film constitutes a wonderful and thrilling adventure."

"The film of tomorrow appears to me as even more personal than an individual and autobiographical novel, like a confession, or a diary."

"Hitchcock loves to be misunderstood, because he has based his whole life around misunderstandings."

"The film of tomorrow will resemble the person who made it, and the number of spectators will be proportional to the number of friends the director has."

"An actor is never so great as when he reminds you of an animal - falling like a cat, lying like a dog, moving like a fox."

"When I begin a film, I want to make a great film. Halfway through, I just hope to finish the film."

"Is the cinema more important than life?"

"But the cinephile is … a neurotic! (That’s not a pejorative term.) The Bronte sisters were neurotic, and it’s because they were neurotic that they read all those books and became writers. The famous French advertising slogan that says, “When you love life, you go to the movies,” it’s false! It’s exactly the opposite: when you don’t love life, or when life doesn’t give you satisfaction, you go to the movies."

"Three films a day, three books a week and records of great music would be enough to make me happy to the day I die."

"There are no good and bad movies, only good and bad directors."

Luis Bunuel

"Sometimes, watching a movie is a bit like being raped."

"Nothing would disgust me more, morally, than receiving an Oscar."

"I think films are perishable, because they depend too much on technology, which advances too quickly and the films become old-fashioned, antiques. What I hope for is that technology advances to the point that films in the future will depend on a little pill which you take; then you sit in the dark, and from your eyes you project the film you want to see on a blank wall."

A photographic portrait of the soviet director Andrei Tarkovsky. Author: Festival de Cine Africano de Córdoba
A photographic portrait of the soviet director Andrei Tarkovsky. Author: Festival de Cine Africano de Córdoba | Source

Andrei Tarkovsky

"My aim is to place cinema among the other art forms. To put it on a par with music, poetry, prose, etc."

"Little plots and stories, acted out and screened, can't possibly be called cinema. They have nothing whatever to do with cinema. A cinematographic work is above all a work which would not be possible in any other art form. In other words. it can be created by means of cinema, and cinema alone."

"I felt all the time that for the film to be a success the texture of the scenery and the landscapes must fill me with definite memories and poetic associations."

"A film in cinema is what in theatre would be realism—and vice versa. In cinema—as in life—the text, the words, are refracted in everything apart from the words themselves. The words mean nothing—words are water."

"I somehow think that it's better to screen inferior literature, which nonetheless contains the seed of something real- which can be developed in the film and grow into something wonderful as a result of going through your hands."

"Perhaps cinema is the most personal art, the most intimate. In cinema only the author's intimate truth will be convincing enough for the audience to accept."

"The director's task is to recreate life, its movement, its contradictions, its dynamic and conflicts. It is his duty to reveal every iota of the truth he has seen, even if not everyone finds that truth acceptable. Of course an artist can lose his way, but even his mistakes are interesting provided they are sincere. For they represent the reality of his inner life, of the peregrinations and struggle into which the external world has thrown him."

Jean Renoir

"A director makes only one movie in his life. Then he breaks it up and makes it again."

"I considered that the world, and especially the cinema, was burdened with false gods. My task was to overthrow them. Sword in hand, I was ready to consecrate my life to the task. But the false gods are still there. My perseverance during a half-century of cinema has perhaps helped to topple a few of them. It has likewise helped me to discover that some of the gods were real, and had no need to be toppled."

"The saving grace of the cinema is that with patience and a little love we may arrive at that wonderfully complex creature which is called man."

"There is no realism in American films. No realism, but something much better, great truth."

"My dream is of a craftsman's cinema in which the author can express himself as directly as the painter in his paintings or the writer in his books."

"I believe that perfection handicaps cinema."

"To the question, ‘Is the cinema an art?’ my answer is, ‘what does it matter?’... You can make films or you can cultivate a garden. Both have as much claim to being called an art as a poem by Verlaine or a painting by Delacroix… Art is ‘making.’ The art of poetry is the art of making poetry. The art of love is the art of making love... My father never talked to me about art. He could not bear the word."

"A film director is not a creator, but a midwife. His business is to deliver the actor of a child that he did not know he had inside him."

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