"Não fora o canto final da Comédia de Dante que me imprimira a identidade, quando o li pela primeira vez, nesse dia, ainda na escola? Canto Trinta e Três do Paraíso, para mim a culminação, onde Dante diz:
"Observo as folhas dentro da fornalha sem fundo
Num volume envolvido pelo amor, o mesmo
Que o Universo mantém espalhado por todo o seu labirinto.
Substância e acidentes, nos seus modos, tornam-se
Como que fundidos uns nos outros, todos de tal forma
Que aquilo que eu digo é uma simples chama."
A soberba tradução de Lawrence Binyon; e depois os comentários de C. H. Grandgent a essa passagem:
"Deus é o livro do Universo."
A que um outro comentador, não me lembro qual, observou: "Trata-se de uma noção platónica." Platónica ou não, essa é a sequência de palavras que me enquadrou, que me fez o que sou: essa é a minha fonte, essa visão e esse relato, essa vista das coisas finais. Não me considero cristã, mas não posso esquecer essa visão, essa maravilha. Lembro-me da noite em que li esse canto final do Paraíso, em que o li de facto, pela primeira vez; tinha um dente infectado e doía-me horrivelmente, insuportavelmente, por isso fiquei de pé toda a noite, a beber uísque puro e a ler Dante, e às nove da manhã do dia seguinte fui directa ao dentista sem telefonar, sem uma marcação, apareci com as lagrimas a escorrerem-me pela cara abaixo, suplicando ao Dr. Davidson que fizesse qualquer coisa por mim... o que ele fez. Por isso, esse canto está profundamente gravado em mim; está associado a uma dor terrível e uma dor que durou horas, durante a noite, pelo que não havia ninguém com quem falar; e disso saí a aprofundar as coisas últimas à minha própria maneira, não uma maneira formal ou oficial, mas, de qualquer forma, uma maneira.
"Aquele que aprende, deve sofrer. E mesmo no nosso sono, a dor que não pode esquecer cai gota a gota no coração, e para nosso próprio desespero, contra a nossa vontade, chega-nos a sabedoria pela graça medonha de Deus."
Ou lá como é. Ésquilo? Não me lembro agora. Um daqueles três que escreveram tragédias.
O que significa que posso dizer com toda a verdade que, para mim, o momento de maior compreensão, em que finalmente conheci a realidade espiritual, chegou em ligação com uma irrigação de emergência dos canais da raiz e duas horas na cadeira do dentista. E doze horas a beber uísque, mau uísque, por sinal, e simplesmente ler Dante sem ouvir a aparelhagem ou comer - não havia forma de poder comer -, e sofrer, e tudo isso valeu a pena; nunca o esquecerei. Portanto, não sou diferente de Tim Archer. Também para mim, os livros são reais e estão vivos; as vozes de seres humanos saem deles e compelem a minha aceitação, da mesma forma que Deus compele a nossa aceitação do mundo, como dizia Tim. Quando se esteve em tão grande miséria, não se vai esquecer o que se fez, se viu e se pensou e leu nessa noite; eu nada fiz, nada vi, nada pensei; li e recordo-me; nessa noite não li Howard the Duck ou The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers ou Snatch Comix; li a Comédia de Dante, do Inferno ao Purgatório, até que finalmente cheguei até aos três coloridos anéis de luz..."
Angel Archer, narradora de The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, de Philip K. Dick
Sempre tive para mim que foi neste Giù la testa que Leone se superou em todos os sentidos (ainda assim, há-que rever o último Once Upon a Time e ver os primeiros filmes, que ainda não vi). Talvez tenha sido a música do Morricone, talvez os jogos entre John e Juan. Ou então é o que no fim fica por resolver, explicar, e que pode ter que ver com aquele eco melodioso (Sean, Sean, Sean). Qualquer coisa que ressoa na memória quase em segredo e que se pode chamar de "dever", "pátria", "consciência", ou "amizade"...
Enfim, qualquer coisa que só James Coburn descobriu - a muito custo - mas não quis dizer a ninguém.
The greatest Western ever made. It's about a man reclaiming his self-respect. It was made in reaction to High Noon. There you had a sheriff who breaks down and cries when no-one helps him. It's ridiculous. Hawks made Rio Bravo because he was so disturbed by the silliness of High Noon. I've remade Rio Bravo disguised as alien invasion movies and horror films. But if I get a script it's still about zombies eating flesh, it's never going to be about the hero riding into town. Assault On Precinct 13 is based on Rio Bravo - it's the source. Don't take my word for it, ask Quentin Tarantino. He'll insist that you see it.
2. Once Upon a Time in the West(Sergio Leone, 1968)
It is a masterpiece, an opera, and it's so slow. What is going on? Forget it. Let yourself go. It's awesome. Charles Bronson actually looks beautiful in it. That rugged face. It's the most mythic movie I've ever seen. The art direction is incredible. Shot partly in America and partly in Spain, by an italian director, and it is one of the most incredible American Westerns I have ever seen. I've actually stolen a line from it and put it in pretty much all my movies: Henry Fonda wants to know who Charles Bronson is, and Bronson says, "I'll tell you... at the point of dying." An absolutely outrageous movie.
3. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
Great film. Something about this movie really resonates with me; that last shot where the door closes on John Wayne and closes on that part of the West. It's a sad movie, made by an old man looking back. John Wayne plays a despicable person. A racist. It has many depths and layers to it. America doesn't have many myths. The one myth we have is the Western. These ragged revolutionary don't-fuck-with-me people who killed the Indians and said, "We're gonna take this land." Flawed people against the unending prairie sky. It's so much of the American character. We're assholes and we don't apologise for it.
4. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)
This is one of two classic stories: Mutiny On The Bounty and Moby Dick. John Wayne, again, plays a real jerk. He's almost evil. He kills a load of Mexicans, tries to kill his adopted son, tries to seduce the woman who loves his son. It's a Greek fuckin' tragedy. I love the speech Wayne gives his men: "This will be the worst thing that's ever happened to you. If you wanna quit, quit right now." That's exactly the way I approach making a movie. You don't wanna make this film? I understand. But if you bail out on me half.way through, I'm not going to forgive you. To me that is a lesson about what it is to be a man.
5. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
It's a highly romantic film and people don't seem to realise it. What William Holden and his bunch are about is loyalty. Holden says it: "If you're not loyal to your fellow man, you're an animal." It's about humanity rising out of killers. It's amazing. Technically, it changed the way we saw action. Every director who's ever tackled an action scene has watched that movie. Peckinpah was a very violent man. Drugs, booze and violence killed him. That guy lived the party. He'd pull a knife on you if you wanted to fuck with him. Don't fuck with Sam Peckinpah.
6. Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)
I don't know how to explain it other than the fact that I also love The Wizard of Oz. It's corny, fun, old-fashioned movie-making. Is John Wayne a good actor in this movie? No, he is not. Ford was one of the meanest directors ever. He was like Peckinpah, only worse. He'd torture you, physically. He tortured this actor called Paul Fix. Paul had to fall down on some rocks and he did it once, twice, and then said, "Mr. Ford, I'll do it again but don't ask me to do it anymore." Ford made him do it 22 more times, till the guy was bloody, just to fuck with him. He was an evil guy.
7. How the West Was Won (John Ford/Henry Hathaway/George Marshall, 1962)
70mm, Cinerama, stereophonic sound, a stunner. The final sequence, on the train, is unreal. They killed a stuntman during that, but it's spectacular. The best section is directed by Hathaway. The Genghis Khan of film-makers. He's dead now, so we can talk about him. Once he was shooting a film on his own property and he was going to do a shot and they said, "We can't, they're building a house over there." He said, "You wanna bet?" He gets on the phone and has his men tear down the building so he can get his shot. An absolute tyrant.
8. The Naked Spur (Anthony Mann, 1953)
It's a very flawed movie. Janet Leigh is in it, Robert Ryan is just awesome and James Stewart is, again, a guy who's not good. There's something really savage about the world in an Anthony Mann film. James Stewart is such a good guy in most movies and only in Anthony Mann Westerns does he get to be this totally weird, screwed-up guy. There's a part of James Stewart in this film that's evil. I respond to the bad men in Westerns. Heroes playing bad men - that's interesting. A movie's only as good as it's bad guy. In Westerns they can really be nefarious.
9. North to Alaska (Henry Hathaway, 1960)
I have no artistic reason for putting this in. Another Henry Hathaway movie. The guy is beyond obscure. He will never get any credit for anything. He's made some great movies, and he's also made some crap. This has John Wayne, Stewart Granger and Fabian. It's a comedy Western about the golf rush in Alaska. Put aside all your critical thinking and watch it. It is a hoot. John Wayne overacts, everybody overacts - it doesn't matter. In one scene in this movie, John Wayne gets hit and he loses his toupé. If you freeze frame, you can see it flying off. I recommend it highly.
10. True Grit (Henry Hathaway, 1969)
Another Hathaway film. Wayne overacts, Robert Duvall is the bad guy and Glen Campbell is horrible. You can't help but love it. Wayne actually dies. When your hero dies, it's: "Whoa, wait a minute!" I was part of a darker movement but I kind of had a foot in this lighter age. I miss that. It's a difficult time right now. I would love to have done Tombstone. Kurt and I talked about that. It would have been wonderful to get together on that. I would have done it totally different. Same cast, same lines and same story but utterly different. But no-one's going to consider me for that. Hell no.