10 Inspirational Women In Film
Kathryn Bigelow (Director)
Chantal Akerman (Director), Sara Driver (Writer/Director), Maya Deren (Director)
Reed Morano (Cinematographer)
Agnes Varda (Director), Lynne Ramsay (Director), Catherine Breillat (Director)
Shirley Walker (Composer), Wendy Carlos (Composer)
In one eight-year period, he photographed — among others — Klute, The Godfather, The Paper Chase, The Parallax View, The Godfather Part Two, All the President’s Men, Annie Hall, Interiors, and Manhattan. His influence will never wane; there simply isn’t anyone who’s any good who isn’t standing on his shoulders.
This is quite priceless: Steven Soderbergh interviewed Gordon Willis for a documentary he made about his first feature, End of the Road, and used the opportunity to ask him about some other things as well…
Your relationship with Pakula must have been pretty fluid.
It was very fluid. To be honest, most of the people that hired me after a certain point were people that wanted me to help design their movies structurally. By that I mean visually. And so with Alan it was—we had a good start with Klute… he was very—
I understand there could be a lot of deliberation…
Parallax was a lot—yeah, right, a lot of that. President’s Men—he was dreadful with not being able to make up his mind. We’d lay things out and then he’d say, well, what are my options? I said, well, there aren’t any, we have to commit to this idea and go through with it. I said, too many options and six months from now you won’t know what movie you shot here. So he was not good at making up his mind. He was intellectually very fruitful. But he was happiest covered in papers and books. That was his happiest moment. And talking about scenes. I mean, he’d disappear in rehearsals for two hours and you’d wait around with a cup of coffee. He’d say, OK, we have it. And then I’d go into the set and they didn’t have anything. They hadn’t blocked anything, they hadn’t done anything except talk about it. So OK, boom-boom-boom, we’d block and he’d say, oh, that’s very good. Let’s do that. And boom. So that was really the kind of working relationship with Alan, which was pretty good for a while. And then I guess the last movie I shot with him, Devil’s Own, with Harrison, he had actually kind of turned himself over to Harrison at that point, so he became even worse. But he was a very nice man, intellectual, and he was very, very appreciative of good stuff on the screen, very appreciative. Women liked him a lot. Actresses liked him. Men didn’t like him at all. He made male actors very—
Just because of that quality—
Yeah, that effete quality made them very—yeah, yeah, they didn’t like him. The women liked him a lot.
You started working in a period where it seems movies mattered in a way that they don’t anymore.
Why do you think that is?
Well, I’m just thinking of the overall day-to-day living standards of everybody today. Movies were a way of communicating. There was radio and you had movies. Newspapers. I think they were a definitive way of communicating with people and a definitive way of telling stories. And they were a special way. I know when I was growing up—which was a long time ago—going to the movies was a wonderful experience, and they were a special way for people to reach out and get something else, take in something. Now, movies aren’t so special. In fact, it’s like wallpaper now. People are running around watching movies on their iPods and blah-blah-blah. So everything is sort of stacked and overlapping and so I don’t think they’re as important as they used to be, because although they pretend they are, they used to be an event. It used to be a Saturday, it used to be a Sunday, it used to be an evening, it used to be something that you wanted to go to and see this, see that. I don’t think that’s there anymore. It is to a degree, but it’s like a weekend, you know. Get the money, get out. So it’s not—it’s like opening a great book. You sit down and you open the book. It’s something special. Going to a movie was something special. I don’t think it’s special anymore. I think it’s just another way of turning out stuff.
For more, see our archive under the tag, “Gordon Willis.”
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I’m every nightmare you’ve ever had. I am your worst dream come true. I’m everything you ever were afraid of. – It (1990)