Reading Godfrey Reggio’s Interview about his film “Visitors”

Here’s the link:

I haven’t watched the film yet, so this is quite a difficult read.

Some memorable quotes:

  1. Q: All your films have felt like emotional warnings, more or less to the effect that we’d better learn to be human, to be gentle, while there’s still time—it’s a “Look, let’s get serious” message.A: Yeah, it is. And as you say, I’ve had that “message” through all the work I’ve done. I can see Visitors as a requiem.
  2. I was out at the gorilla exhibit in the Bronx Zoo for almost three weeks, a mind-blowing experience. Literally tens of thousands of people came to see the gorillas. It’s a very popular site. We had to shoot on a platform above the crowds. People go nuts trying to get the gorillas to go nuts! It’s unbelievable.
  3. It dealt with “isms”: scratch the surface and there’s an “ism” within us all. It was to be an anarchic, comedic piece dealing with the ideology of books, flags, walls, and screens…
  4. I couldn’t get anything more than a documentary amount of money—about a million dollars. I know it sounds ridiculous to refuse so much money, but I knew how to budget what I wanted to do, and I didn’t want to shoot a doc.
  5. The camera is showing us something our eyes can’t see. I’m told our first dreams come in black and white. A lot of words go into creating the shooting script of a film like this, deciding on the point of view, getting everybody on the same page and into one breath, one heartbeat—but at the end of the day we’re making a pictorial composition, a syntax for the eye. It’s not about text; it’s about texture. Until the film is shot, it’s just on paper; once the film is shot, the paper goes out the window and we’re left with the material of the medium—the image-in-time—and that’s what we have to work with.

Things I would have liked to understand better:

  1. tattooed on the masonry that makes up “VISITORS” are at least six bullet holes. I came to feel that that’s really what we were, and are, “visitors,” and I liked the ubiquity of the word because you can interpret it in any way you wish.
  2. The last shot is a key to the autodidactic nature of Visitors: here we are, looking at a screen, and a screen is looking back at us. Throughout, the film has been about this reciprocal gaze. Also, I believe in bookends. As soon as you put a frame around anything that is (or is posing as) art, people have the propensity to conjure meaning, because of the limit that is offered. Beginning and ending with Triska is a kind of framing.

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