In The Tulse Luper Suitcases (and, indeed, in much of your work) there seems to be this highly charged sexual tension with the viewer and each and every single actor - does this tie in with Darwin’s theory (that you’ve been noted to quote that ultimately, we’re only here to procreate) - so that our overriding response to your work is ultimately one of uncomfortable sexuality?
"Well, let me offer you a truism; there really are only two things to talk about, one is sex and the other’s death; the beginning and the end - Eros and Thanatos. These are the two non-negotiables of life - everything else is negotiable isn’t it? Even love is negotiable, but procreation and the end of all thingsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ (ok, we have medical science, we can live a little longer, we’ve now got sexual freedom that our parents didn’t have, we can make choices that they would never even consider) but still, ultimately, these are the non-negotiable factors and they are deeply related to the whole of civilization whether you’re an Eskimo or whether you’re Japanese or a sophisticated bourgeois Londoner, they all deeply impinge on our activity.
"There was a father / son relationship,
Renoir the father who was a painter, Renoir the son who was the film-maker - apparently one day the son said to the father, ‘I really want to become engaged in making cinema but I don’t really have any ideas’ and he said ‘don’t worry son, if you just have two ideas, that’s more than enough for a life-time because most people don’t have any ideas at all, and if those ideas are ‘sex’ and ‘death’ well it’s never ending’ and I want to explore that. I want to come up against the taboos, I want to prick conscience, I want to not create a cinema which simply massages what you know, that sort of consoles and makes you feel comfortable - but I think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always been the characteristic of all the art that disturbs. Art needs to disturb as well as to celebrate and I would like to be associated with both those verbs."
Giving people a multi-sensory experience - does this sit a little too close to the chaos theory (ie with it’s seeming randomness in content and arbitrary delivery) - about everything, everywhere - and that there’s a huge resistance to that and that many people want to be told what to do and told how to read a film or a playÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
"TrueÃ¢â‚¬Â¦well, John Cage, an American composer who, for me, says a lot of wise things says that if you introduce 20% of novelty into any artwork - that’s a painting, a piece of music, film, theatre, whatever, watch out because you’re going to lose 80% of your audience because
Man is naturally a conservative animal - he wants to stay comfortable, to a certain extent.
"On the other hand, civilisation is an incredibly thin veneer - witness the bombs in London last week, witness all the chaotic injustices of the world and you’ve only got to slightly pin-prick that veneer and the whole thing begins to fall apart, we can see how even more it could fall apart unless we really do cohere to what we know - it’s inevitable. But what, art has allowed itself to and encouraged itself, learnt to deal with those sorts of possibilities? Cinema does this all the time, doesn’t it? It engages in these things but without any sense of responsibility. Somebody once said, if Greenaway made a film about Mickey Mouse (you know how Mickey Mouse hits his head on the brick, and then the next frame he’s up and laughing, and running around?), if Greenaway made a film of Mickey Mouse, he would be in hospital for six months, he would suffer a brain trauma and he would never forget that event. Ok, Mickey Mouse isn’t the whole of the cinema but
there’s a feeling that cinema performs its tricks, plays its games, takes its responsibilities with a great sense of irresponsibility and either romanticizes and deoderises things out of context, or you go to the other extent and you cover the world with blood and guts and just giggle about it. I want to examine what I would call the ‘giggle factor’ in cinema which is just there to provoke without responsibility."
In 2003 you said that you wanted The Tulse Luper Suitcases to start to re-invent the cinematic experience - do you think it’s managed to achieve that?