Thursday, August 9, 2007

Schrader On Cat People

The currently available edition of CAT PEOPLE features two lengthy interviews with Paul Schrader as well as an in depth audio commentary so hearing Paul Schrader's thoughts on the film is not difficult. I thought though that a few quotes from the very valuable SCHRADER ON SCHRADER would be worth putting up for those interested.

"I became obsessed with Kinski. So the story of the film started to become very personal, so much so that I wasn't really aware of how perverse it was getting."

"It's the opposite side of the coin from the 'We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place' feeling, an idealized version of what our shining goal is, and that may take the form of the redemptive moment, or, in sexual terms, the form of Beatrice, the female equivalent of Christ."

"The original had a very conventional ending. There was a big, dark house and the monster was killed and the house was burned down. So the big change I made was that he doesn't kill the monster, he makes love to her and puts her in a shrine and lives with her."

"I like existential horror. I think the greatest metaphor in the cinema is in THE EXORCIST, where you get God and The Devil in the same room arguing over the body of a little girl...I mean THAT'S a horror film, that is truly great. In the same way, ROSEMARY'S BABY has deep spiritual connotations. I like those kind of horror films."

"When you shoot any film there are always a couple of tapes with you lug along with you and you play them in your office continually with the sound off...On CAT PEOPLE the tapes I took along were BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and ORPHEUS...there will never be another Cocteau."

"New Orleans is the most unAmerican town in America...I tried to reflect that in the casting, to have a gumbo kind of cast to tune in with New Orleans's gumbo pot of races and nations."

"I don't think much of the original film. It was interesting in its use of shadows and so forth, but I didn't find it very good and I was pertrubed that people were trying to compare the two...I wish I'd changed the title because then there wouldn't have been the comparisons."

"AMERICAN GIGOLO was (financially) succesful, but CAT PEOPLE wasn' was an attempt to have things both ways, which is to have a classy film and a horror it really wasn't satisfying to the audiences."


Will E. said...

I've liked a lot of Schrader films--especially Auto Focus--and really enjoy Cat People, but I've always been disappointed by his curt dismissal of the original Tourneur/Lewton Cat People with Simone Simon. It's one of the best horror films of the 1940s. Sometimes Schrader is too erudite for his own good.

Jeremy Richey said...

I agree about Schrader's sometimes annoying tendancies when he talks on film. I love many of his films but I really have to separate them from many of his critical writings, as I find a lot of them really irritating and overly stuffy. Thanks again for the comments...