6. About Yasujiro Ozu
Japanese artistic cinema’s influential place in the global scenario of that time can be traced back entirely to the contributions of Yasujiro Ozu, who till today is remembered for delivering some of the most compelling human experiences with a “fluency” in the medium.
Akira Kurosawa, the eternal symbol of Asian cinema said- “Indeed, one can learn pretty much from his movies. Young prospective movie makers in Japan should, I hope, see more of Ozu’s work.”
The masterly Wim Wenders was a great admirer of Ozu’s work. He said- “If in our century, something sacred still existed, if there were something like a sacred treasure of the cinema, then for me that would have to be the work of the Japanese director Yasujirô Ozu… For me never before and never again since has the cinema been so close to its essence and its purpose: to present an image of man in our century, a usable, true and valid image in which he not only recognises himself, but from which, above all, he may learn about himself.”
Gotz Spielmann owed his style to the master, and said- “Ozu for me is like a big brother who helps me remember from time to time the really important things about the form of moviemaking, which have nothing to do with manipulating the audience or being clever. Form can have something to do with truth.”
Satyajit Ray, whose humanistic cinema had a striking resemblance with Ozu’s work, said about him- “I have repeatedly seen some of his films and thought, “My God, he doesn’t follow at all the Hollywood model or grammar.” Ozu has another approach, which one can call a devotion to the geography of actors in their setting. This form of his is original, and it is fundamental enough to necessitate a thorough reassessment of the so-called first principles of filmmaking.”
7. About Vittorio De Sica
The most visually stunning novelist of all time, the face of Italian Neorealism has inspired generations of masterpieces, observing in a grammar of exquisite control and realism, many socio-political impacts.
Federico Fellini said- “Great power of achievement, and a master of his actors. He stems from our marvelous era of neorealism. He is a very good director, someone almost untouchable, because of the special place he occupied after the war.”
Luis Bunuel, whose grammar was absolutely unlike neorealism, said that he “especially liked Shoeshine, Umberto D, and The Bicycle Thief, where he succeeded in making a machine the star of the movie.”
Orson Welles articulated his admiration in the most apt words- “In handling a camera I feel that I have no peer. But what De Sica can do, I can’t do. I ran his Shoeshine recently and the camera disappeared, the screen disappeared; it was just life . . .”
Satyajit Ray, whose early career could be entirely seen as a tribute to De Sica said- “The first film I saw in London was De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves. I came out of the theatre my mind fully made up. I would become a filmmaker.”
Roy Andersson said- “When I was 12, they showed Vittorio de Sica’s neorealist Bicycle Thieves (1948) at my youth center. I think it’s the most empathic, human and intelligent film ever made. I was so moved by the fact that there were people out there who had taken upon them to make a film, told with such warmth and love of humanity, about socially unimportant people, like an unemployed family father being robbed of the bike he needs to get a job. It definitely influenced me to become a filmmaker.”
8. About Kenji Mizoguchi
The beloved Japanese director has probably made around two hundred films and had reinvented beauty in the medium in the most modern sense for his time. He is endeared by generations of filmmakers since him for his true creativity.
Jean-Luc Godard, who as a critic was a great admirer of Mizoguchi’s great expressions, upon his death said- “The greatest of Japanese filmmakers. Or, quite simply, one of the greatest of filmmakers.” He further justified- “If poetry is manifest in each second, each shot filmed by Mizoguchi, it is because, as with Murnau, it is the instinctive reflection of the film-maker’s creative. Mizoguchl’s art is the most complex because it is the simplest. Camera effects and tracking shots are rare, but when they do suddenly burst into a scene, the effect is one of dazzling beauty.”
Andrei Tarkovsky whose cinema was indebted to the revolutionization of long shots and poetic designs of human behaviour of Mizoguchi said about him- “One of the “exalted figures who soar above the earth… such an artist can convey the lines of the poetic design of being. He is capable of going beyond the limitations of coherent logic, and conveying the deep complexity and truth of the impalpable connections and hidden phenomena of life.”
Orson Welles declared that “No praise is too high for him.”
Martin Scorsese said- “Mizoguchi is one of the greatest masters who ever worked in the medium of film; he’s right up there with Renoir and Murnau and Ford, and after the war he made three pictures—The Life of Oharu, Ugetsu, and Sansho the Bailiff—that stand at the summit of cinema. All of his artistry is channeled into the most extraordinary simplicity.”
Akira Kurosawa said, upon the death of one of his creative anchors and companions- “Of all Japanese directors I have the greatest respect for him. . . . With the death of Mizoguchi, Japanese film lost its truest creator. Now that Mizoguchi is gone, there are very few directors who can see the past clearly and realistically.”
9. About Federico Fellini
A director who parented some of the most modern sensibilities of cinema, Fellini remains a voice of invention that will echo as long as cinema and thought exists. Probably one of the most creative Italians of the twentieth century, all mediums considered, his films were as much paintings as they were fairy tales… about a Rome that continues to bemuse cinephiles with a social enigma.
Akira Kurosawa in his famous warm manner, said- “Fellini’s cinematgraphic art is excellent. It’s in itself ‘fine art’. Nowadays no one has such a peculiar talent more… One feels in his movies, say, an existential power, which has a strong impact. Well, I met him several times, but he was so shy that he didn’t talk about his movies to me.”
Ingmar Bergman, who shared Fellini’s appetite for innovation was probably the most applausive of his contemporaries said- “Fellini is Fellini. He is not honest, he is not dishonest, he is just Fellini. And he is not responsible. You cannot put moralistic points of view on Fellini; it is impossible. He is just—I live him.” During the infamous creative block Fellini had witnessed, Bergman said- “He is enormously intuitive. He is intuitive; he is creative; he is an enormous force. He is burning inside with such heat. Collapsing. Do you understand what I mean? The heat from his creative mind, it melts him. He suffers from it; he suffers physically from it. One day when he can manage this heat and can set it free, I think he will make pictures you have never seen in your life. He is rich. As every real artist, he will go back to his sources one day. He will find his way back.”
Andrei Tarkovsky who was an inventor of equal ranks, said- “I like Fellini for his kindness, for his love of people, for his, let`s say, simplicity and intimate intonation. If you would like to know – not for popularity, but rather for his humanity. I value him tremendously.”
Louis Malle said in an interview- “Well, Fellini… there is always Fellini”
Terry Gilliam analysed Fellini’s work- “I think Fellini just told me things about my future. He told me about the process of life. He told me things about the process of life. He told me things about memory that all seems true and honest and believable, even though he lies the whole time. That’s what I love about Fellini, he’s a liar. He’s a constant liar. He twists and distorts the truth. Now whether any of us saw the world like Fellini showed us until he actually made his films I don’t know. I have that terrible feeling he opened our eyes to a world that was sitting there all alone. Those of us who followed could come and see the world that he saw.”
Martin Scorsese, whose directorial genius echoes with some of Fellini’s choices, praised him referring to Eight And A Half- “What would Fellini do after La dolce vita? We all wondered. How would he top himself? Would he even want to top himself? Would he shift gears? Finally, he did something that no one could have anticipated at the time.”
Jane Campion said- “Fellini is a deep, deep master of film. As time goes by I adore him more and more.”
David Lynch, who shared both Fellini’s fascination for dreams and birthday said- “I love Fellini [. . .] His is a totally different time, and an Italian take on life. But there’s something about his films. There’s a mood. They make you dream. They’re so magical and lyrical and surprising and inventive. The guy was unique. If you took his films away, there would be a giant chunk of cinema missing. There’s nothing else around like that. I like Bergman, but his films are so different. Sparse. Sparse dreams.”
10. About Satyajit Ray
One of the greatest humanists in cinema, whose films are known for their profoundly beautiful and adaptive visual and structural compositeness and thematic choices reflecting the human moral attitude, was the only representative of the glowing artistic culture of India at that time, despite the infantile gimmick of the local industry.
Akira Kurosawa said- “The quiet but deep observation, understanding and love of the human race, which are characteristic of all his films, have impressed me greatly. … I feel that he is a giant of the movie industry. … Not to have seen the cinema of Satyajit Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon.”
Jean Renoir, also known as his mentor, said- “I think he has it in his blood. Though he is very young still, he is the father of Indian cinema.”
Martin Scorsese, who considered showing his daughters The Apu Trilogy one of his responsibilities as a father, said- “I remember going to see my first film of his at 15 and witnessing a whole new world presented visually before my eyes. Without a doubt, in his films the line between poetry and cinema, dissolved… His work is something that I personally cannot wait to show my own daughter, once she is old enough to understand them.”
Mike Leigh, one of the greatest contemporary storytellers thoroughly inspired by Ray whose humanistic compassion borrows elements from Ray, said- “coming back to Ray’s cinema has been like returning to a succulent banquet, or experiencing a series of clairvoyant flashes. I emerge from each of his films with a newly sharpened view of the world.”
Wes Anderson, who was motivated by Ray to pursue novelistic themes and make a film on India (Darjeeling Limited was dedicated to Ray) said- “His films feel like novels to me. He draws you very close to his characters, and his stories are almost always about people going through a major internal transition.”
Elia Kazan said “I want to add my voice to those of Scorsese and Merchant in asking the Academy grant Satyajit Ray an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award. I have admired his films for many years and for me he is the filmic voice of India, speaking for the people of all classes of the country…He is the most sensitive and eloquent artist and it can truly be said in his case that when we honor him we are honoring ourselves.”
Michelangelo Antionioni said- “My admiration for Satyajit Ray is total. I am very thankful to him because through his films I have known India with a deep insight.”