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New Left Review I/91, May-June 1975

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Six Films by Douglas Sirk

‘Film is like a battleground’ Sam Fuller, who once wrote a script [1] Shockproof (1948). Sirk recounts ‘ . . . I recall that Fuller—whom I never met—brought a script to Columbia, which I was supposed to shoot. I liked the script tremendously. But against my wish they called in Helen Deutsch to change it.’ (Jon Halliday, Sirk on Sirk, London 1972). For Fuller’s account, see the interview (translated from Présence du Cinéma nos. 19–20) published in Samuel Fuller, Edinburgh Festival 1969. for Douglas Sirk, said in a film by Jean-Luc Godard, who, shortly before he made A Bout de Souffle, wrote a rhapsody on Douglas Sirk’s A Time to Love and a Time to Die. [2] Jean-Luc Godard, ‘Des Larmes et de la Vitesse,’ Cahiers du Cinéma no. 94, translated in Screen, Summer 1971. But not one of us, Godard or Fuller or me or anybody else, can touch Douglas Sirk. Sirk has said: ‘cinema is blood, is tears, violence, hate, death, and love’. And Sirk has made films with blood, with tears, with violence, hate—films with death and films with love. Sirk has said: you can’t make films about things, you can only make films with things, with people, with light, with flowers, with mirrors, with blood, in fact with all the fantastic things which make life worth living. Sirk has also said: a director’s philosophy is lighting and camera angles. And Sirk has made the tenderest films I know, they are the films of someone who loves people and doesn’t despise them as we do. Darryl F. Zanuck once said to Sirk: ‘They’ve got to like the movie in Kansas City and in Singapore.’ America is really something else.

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