quotes challenge #3

Well I totally fell down on the quotes challenge, so let’s pretend that I meant this to be the third one all along:

“If you think that someone’s first or second film in a long career is their best, you don’t really like their work. Artists grow.”

The quote is from this article.

It makes me think of two things (at least).

One is from Orson Welles, who said that artists do their best work when they’re young, and when they’re old. He said this when he got to Hollywood, when he saw that even the greatest directors, like John Ford, couldn’t get studios to let them make films when they got old, when they were likely — in Welles’ opinion — to make some of their best work.

This makes me think of this post, where I talked about several last films, including John Huston’s The Dead, which is amazing.

The other thing I thought about was Gosford Park, made very late in Robert Altman’s career. A few weeks ago, I referred to it in a comment on a blog, and of course I immediately had to watch it again.

I put on the DVD, entranced as usual, and then, at a scene I have watched many, many times before, I burst into tears. Great, uncontrollable sobs — because there was so much truth and human pain (all of it almost invisible) in that moment.

I don’t think any young artist at the beginning of a career could have made that movie — certainly not in the way that Altman did.

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2 Responses to quotes challenge #3

  1. Maggie says:

    I was thinking of that quote in terms of musicians and popular bands. Most of the time, it seems like their best albums are their first few, then it seems like they go downhill from there. I wonder if that is because of the record label’s pressure on them to produce something that’s not what they would produce if they weren’t “owned” by the industry. Or maybe the reason I like the older Smashing Pumpkins stuff (from the 90s) better than the newer stuff is because I just don’t appreciate their “genius” anymore.

  2. I think rock music doesn’t work this way, at least usually. Blues, jazz, soul, country — they all have artists who do great work late. My parents were in awe of Beethoven’s late string quartets. But rock? Mostly not.

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