“I’m not an analytical person and I don’t really analyse what my films mean or what their intention is. I’m intuitive,” says Jim Jarmusch, icon of independent filmmaking. His films are independent in multiple ways: On one hand Jarmusch finances his movies indpendently, and on the other hand he doesn’t tell a story on screen in in the traditional Hollywood way.
His early films from the Eighties, like ‘Stranger Then Paradise’ or ‘Down By Law’, follow male outsiders drifting around. These films, called “plotless” by some critics, requite the spectator to focus carefully because they are told a story in a slower rhythm, neglecting the well known Hollywood causation principle along with the concept of a hero achieving his goal. His later work, like ‘Coffee & Cigarettes’, ‘Broken Flowers’ and his latest film ‘The Limits Of Control’, is more abstract, working with repeating motifs and focussing more on individual scenes than on a comprehensible storyline.
Jim Jarmusch, who received the Creative Excellence Award at this year’s RIFF, attended a double feature screening of his films ‘Down By Law’ and ‘The Limits Of Control’ and shared his thoughts with the audience. Jarmusch spent over one and a half hours telling us about his movies, the process of filmmaking and reality in general. The Grapevine was there and collected some of his thoughts for you.
… The process of filmmaking
“I consider my job to be a kind of receptor of things that move me. When I am working on a film idea I take quite a long time to collect disparate things, that I don’t know quite know how they go together yet. I usually have some some actors that I would like to imagine to become certain characters in a kind of imagined world of a film. I start gathering these things. And then something tells me, it is time now to connect the dots, than I write a script based on the collection of these things. I don’t even write the script always in continuity, I might write scene 56 and then scene 3, I’m not always sure how it goes together. I write really fast, because the script is just a starting map. Then I get my cast together, I get some more ideas and change some things. Then I look at other locations, and get more ideas. After shooting, the final draft is the editing. I try to be open to different possibilities that might suggest themselves. When I’m done making the film and having presented it, I never look at it again.”
… Limits of Control: Reality and consciousness
“Limits of Control for me is about the fact that each one of us has our own consciousness and it is the most valuable thing we have, it is our own. You can be influenced, people will try to tell you what is reality. I grew up with authority figures in school, police men even my father telling me things similar to what the character of Bill Murray says to the lone man in the end of the film: `You just don’t understand how the real world works´. And I heard that so many times. But the real world is mine to interpret. I don’t like to be told what is real. (…) I think it should be a sin or even a criminal thing for anyone to tell other people `what I believe is right and therefore you have to believe in the same thing´. (…) I really respect their consciousness and everyone has very different experiences, they accumulate and form you own kind of consciousness. It is a very valuable thing, ones particular perspective of what ever the world is.”
… How to understand his films
“A poet, I think it was E. E. Cummings said `You can understand the poem without knowing what it means´ [`Don’t try to understand it, let it try to understand you.´ E.E. Cummings]. That is very important to me, because you can feel things from a painting, a film, from music without necessarily knowing exactly what it means, which essentially is less important than understanding it on another level, which may not be rational or logical.”
After chatting with the audience, Jarmusch went downtown where he continued chatting with people at Kaffibarinn, Bakkus and Boston.
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