David Blyth - Film Director
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Translation from Fench


The presence of Alejandro Jodorowsky on the jury of this Festival of Films of the Fantastic will have seemed to everyone as much a surprise as an honour. This too unprolific director, author of trailblazing films such as Panda and ~ The Sacred Mountain and, above all, El Topo, had in effect withdrawn from the cinema scene after the semi-failure of Tusk. To see him reappear just as Dune, this offspring which he had borne within him for so long without ever having the chance to give birth to it, is starting to appear on the worldís screens, can therefore be greeted as an event, as the affirmation that one of the most original directors of films of the fantastic is still around and wants nothing better than to leave his involuntary exile. An exile that is creative, nonetheless, as he reminds us, enumerating for us the main activities of these last few years.

'Iíve written a novel, "Paradise of the Parrots", published by Flammarion, which got the Grand Prix de l'Humour Noire Supreme Award for Black Humour, and I have just finished a collection of short stories, Research on a Dirt Road, also for Flammarion. In between times, Iíve been doing scripts for cartoons: four Black lncal albums with Moebius; two with Arnaud (the third is under way) of the Adventures of an Early Riser, and currently, with Carello, I am finishing the second adventure of the Jealous Gods. Iíve also done a lot of work on Tarots, giving lessons and organising courses, and at the moment I am writing a book on the subject for "MA Edition"

How did you develop this passion for Tarots?

'It has always been present in me. Previously I had two worlds: the world of art and the world of Tarots. For thirty years now, Iíve been starting to mix the two things together, to the point where I united them in The Sacred Mountain. Now the only world I work with any more is: Art and Tarots.'

Have you recently worked on film projects?

'I have been asked to write El Topo 2 for the Upited States, where the original film was very successful. But I have been so busy with my novel and my cartoons that I havenít yet had time to get down to work.'

Doing a sequel to El Topo, thatís primarily a commercial choice?

'You need money to make a film, but, if I am given this money, it will not be a commercial choice. I would be free to do what I want. My fans are known to be artistic fans. And the theme is a good one for me, as in the film El Topo dies leaving two children. At present I have two children who love the theatre, and one of them was acting at that time, at the age of seven -- he is now twenty-four. Itís perfect. El Topo's children will be my children. Moreover, it cannot be denied that El Topo opened the way for films such as the King Fu television series or Mad Max. So I feel as if Iím restarting a cycle.'

Explain to us the circumstances in which you met David Blyth, the director of Death Warmed Up (Golden Unicorn at the Festival).

'That's a fairly odd affair. I didnít know him when he called me to ask me to read Tarots for him. I told him to come over and we spent three hours together reading Tarots. At the time he was having very serious emotional problems which were tending to drive him back either to England or to the United States. I consulted the Tarots and advised him to put aside his problems and go back to New Zealand and make films. He listened to the message and left. When he got home he sent me a book to say thankyou. A few years later, I hadn't had any further news of him, I was asked to serve on the jury of the Paris Festival of Films of the Fantastic, and what do you know. He was there, with his film, and it so happened that that was the film I liked best.

What interests you about this film?

'Very often, when I see a film, I am appalled by the bad taste of the takes. Let's say, amoung the current films of the fantastic that make the most money, some are made by this new Walt Disney, whose name I won't mention, which are all the same as far as the takes are concerned. You keep finding this false back-lighting where the source is not natural, lights which made the image a bit fuzzy, the mist appearing on the ground, and this subjective camera advancing very fast. I never go out after one of these films with the feeling that I've experienced a new optical f on of film. I think the cinema sfruld not only provide rhythm, a story, and technique, but most of all a new way of seeing. A good film should transform our vision of reality. Basically, the only great artistic achievement of those films is to recreate the retro movie.'

'As for David Blyth, he has all the American obsessions. He is obviously capable of doing everything the others do, but, despite that, I feel he is a director who has an eye. And then the film appealed to me because of its irrational side. David Elyth creates an unexplained atmosphere from which we have to draw conclusions, and, in passing, he settles scores with his paternal archetype and with his sexual vision of the world. So what sets off a negative apocalypse is a sexual act between two adolescents; from the moment these two youngsters make love in a open, healthy manner, the world explodes as if in retribution. From all these points of view, this can be said to be a personal film, made with very little money, but one which multiplies its resources. I also divide directors into those who need several million dollars, and those who love the cinema so much that they make miracles on small budgets and multiply the loaves by putting all their efforts into the image.'

What other films did you particularly like at this festival?

'There's this story about the man who starts waging war on the rat, DíOrigine Inconnue it is not a complete film. I feel the lack of an optical dimension. It's like Gremlins, which was shown to us at the end, which is a very good film, marvellous, but in which the director doesn't add a single non≠commercial take. Good commercial work, of course, but devoid of optical creation. Thatís why I prefer David Blyth to Joe Dante. Joe Dante applies content, technique, and rhythm, but no eye. Indiana Jones, Gremlins are the same film. Itís a product like "Chicklets": you can have a cinnamon, mint or fruit flavour, but itís still "Chicklets". To be chewed and thrown away!'

'I could understand someone disapproving of David Blyth's film, saying that it was a curious film, not Cartesian enough, with blood in it, idiotic, but nevertheless I don't think I'm wrong in saying that this director is going to have an interesting career in film. In fact I told him, when I read the Tarots for him, that he was going to become very famous, and very rich, and that he would go and shoot in the United States, where people would do their utmost to deprive him of his vision. All I hope for him is that he never falls into the clutches of that sinister grocer, Dino De Laurentiis, who has already tarnished Mel Gibson by making a fool of him in Bounty, and destroyed the myth of King Kong, prior to attacking Dune. If there was a film horror museum, Dino De Laurentiis would have a special place in a cage!'