Scope: Before I forget, the Ford question you referred to in our public discussion was if you’ve ever showed Ford to Ventura, and I think it was a follow-up to your comparing him at the time of Colossal Youth to Judge Priest.
Costa: That’s a bit pretentious…but why would I show it to him when he’s the real thing? He lives in a Ford movie everyday. A strange Ford movie, but almost in the same kind of world, the same kind of people. They are deranged, but they are the same breed. Two faces, hero and bum…it’s more Hawksian, actually, Ford doesn’t have so much that two-sided guy…a little bit, in The Searchers (1956) or My Darling Clementine (1946). Ventura is exactly like that. One young guy from Fontainhas when he saw Colossal Youth said, “Ventura, you’re a piece of shit every day in this neighbourhood and we see you up there and you’re all of us.” He really said that, every word. So why should he see Ford.
Yo, watch this
But I have found objective truths
In fried egg rice and fruits
Sergeant Rutledge (John Ford, 1960)
Colossal Youth (Pedro Costa, 2006)
Any effort persisted in becomes corrupt. The sense of duty that sustains Ford’s individuals (and also their sense of faith) commonly leads them astray into aberrations or death. Duty-bound, they invade others’ privacy, and arrogate knowledge of higher good, right and judgment: judges, ministers, soldiers, outlaws, priests. Thus racism, war or any form of intolerance becomes a function of society. In tracing Ford’s pictures (particularly Judge Priest, How Green Was My Valley, This Is Korea!, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) we have seen how people (and governments) act from feeling, not from logic. People are made of dreams as much as reality. And we have seen how Ford, in awakening around 1927 to cinema’s ability to be art through total stylization, awakened simultaneously to his art’s high task: to help us free ourselves from determining ideologies. Art, after all, has the capability of making us understand things through emotion that we would be absolutely incapable of understanding through the intellect. Within a determining milieu, particularly when that milieu is challenged, free will, human nature, life’s worth, a benign divinity’s existence, all must necessarily be posed in question. And so Ford pictures ideally construct in minute detail a social set of apparent homogeneity (thus often military-like) in order to analyze that society within its historic moment, and in order to demonstrate how the garments of society, together with history itself, operate on the individual. It is for these reasons that Jean-Marie Straub has called Ford the most ”Brechtian” of all filmmakers.
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