FILM / Director's Cut: Treasure trove of the past: Michael Caton-Jones on the soundless scene he likes to steal from Jean Vigo's L'Atalante
If you take the progression from silent movies to sound movies at that time, you see that the better director held on to what he'd learnt before sound was invented. And the less good ones dropped their earlier style completely and went to stiff, stagey, dialogue-ridden films. In 1928 the visual form was immensely more fluid and complex than today.
At film school I didn't get much in the way of theory. But they had a huge library and, if you're a buff like I am, you just chase these things up. It was like discovering Tamla Motown, all at once. You find all this stuff that you just pillage. It's a fascinating, rich area, silent movies. Everything we do now was done better before 1928.
I don't want to be too buffy about it, because it really is my passion. The interesting thing is that it's only other directors who understand directors. I've been meeting a few of them out here in Los Angeles, and you find out that everybody does the same thing in different ways whether they're Tarkovsky or whether they're making some splatter movie. It's like being a lover: you never get to know how good the other guys are. Then when you talk you realise you're doing identical things.
Michael Caton-Jones is the director of Scandal, Memphis Belle, Doc Hollywood and This Boy's Life. L'Atalante is released on video by Artificial Eye ( pounds 15.99).
Arts & Ents blogs
Thirteen-year-old Conor awakes in bed one night to discover that the yew tree outside his house has ...
SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen series 5, episode 11 of ‘Made in Chelsea’ It’s hard ...
Fragility of life looms large over an episode that closes with the scarring on Julie's stomach. Whil...
Sir Paul McCartney's son James admits he didn't like Heather Mills and talks publicly for the first time about his struggle with drugs
It's not just Jay-Z and Kanye West: The beatification of hip-hop
Leah McFall favourite to win The Voice UK 2013
Film review: Man of Steel - Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a bit of a fudge
TV review: The White Queen is less historically plausible than Game of Thrones (despite being ostensibly true)
- 1 Breaking the Silence: In the reality of occupation, there are no Palestinian civilians – only potential terrorists
- 2 Charles Saatchi accepts caution for assault over incident in Scott’s restaurant when he put his hands on throat of wife Nigella Lawson
- 3 Anatomy of a waiter: Service staff spill the secrets of their trade
- 4 Exclusive: Cristiano Ronaldo advised to stay at Real Madrid for another 18 months before making possible switch to Manchester United
- 5 Iran to send 4,000 troops to aid President Assad forces in Syria