Monday, January 29, 2007

The Believer - Interview with Todd Solondz:

TS: Yes, but that’s different from liking comedies. All I mean is, I’m not the kind of audience comedy directors want at a test screening because I seldom laugh, and if I do, it’s not very loud. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the movie. On the other hand, when it comes to violence, I can be a bit too audible. When I was making Storytelling, I couldn’t watch while the violent sex scene between the student and the professor was being shot. It was too intense.

SN: Well, we here in America didn’t get to watch it either, of course, because it was blocked by that famous red rectangle. But in the end you weren’t entirely displeased with that, right?

TS: Well, needless to say, I would have preferred the scene to be shown untouched. But I was not entirely displeased with the block for a very specific reason. In the contract, I had stated that I would not cut anything or change any lines in order to get an R rating. I would agree only to boxes and bleeps. As a result, what the audience sees in my movie is a pure example of censorship. Usually the audience has no idea that the censored version of whatever movie they’re watching isn’t the original. Storytelling is the only studio movie where the censorship is perfectly clear, the only studio movie with a big red box covering up a shot. I take pride in that—and, of course, in having avoided the fate of Eyes Wide Shut.

Notice, by the way, how nobody uses the word censorship. Instead, everyone talks about “the rating system.” But most Americans have no idea how abridged the work they end up seeing on screen really is, how different from what the director originally intended. With Storytelling, at least, it’s explicit: this is what the censors say American citizens, no matter what age, are not permitted to see, even though it can be seen by other people all over the world. I suppose you could call it a political statement.

4:45 PM