"It was like whole numbers. The man could count the gradations in the movement of Anthony Perkins' head. Anthony Perkins turns his head in five incremental movements rather than one continuous motion. It was like bricks in a wall, clearly countable, not like the flight of an arrow or a bird. Then again it was not like or unlike anything. Anthony Perkins' head swiveling over time on his long thin neck."
"Everybody remembers the killer's name. Norman Bates, but nobody remembers the victim's name. Anthony Perkins is Norman Bates, Janet Leigh is Janet Leigh. The victim is required to share the name of the actress who plays her. It is Janet Leigh who enters the remote motel owned by Norman Bates."
(cf. the Histoire(s) du cinéma, Episode 4A — "Le Contrôle de l'univers")
"Janet Leigh in the long interval of her unawareness. He watched her begin to drop her robe. He understood for the first time that black-and-white was the only true medium for film as an idea, film in the mind. He almost knew why but not quite. The men standing nearby would know why. For this film, in this cold dark space, it was completely necessary, black-and-white, one more neutralizing element, a way in which the action becomes something near to elemental life, a thing receding into its drugged parts. Janet Leigh in the detailed process of not knowing what is about to happen to her."
"Arbogast. The name deeply seeded in some obscure niche in the left brain. Norman Bates and Detective Arbogast. These were the names he remembered through the years that had passed since he'd seen the original movie. Arbogast on the stairs, falling forever."
"They see one brain-dead room in six gleaming floors of crowded art."
"The knife, the silence, the spinning rings.
"It takes close attention to see what is happening in front of you. It takes work, pious effort, to see what you are looking at."
"He began to think of one thing's relationship to another. This film had the same relationship to the original movie that the original movie had to real lived experience. This was the departure from the departure. The original movie was fiction, this was real."
"He found deeper interest in a scene when there was only one character to look at, or, better maybe, none."
"Light and sound, wordless monotone, an intimation of life-beyond, world-beyond, the strange bright fact that breathes and eats out there, the thing that's not the movies."
"I arrived after dark.
" 'No plush armchair with warm lighting and books on a shelf in the background. Just a man and a wall,' I told him. 'The man stands there and relates the complete experience, everything that comes to mind, personalities, theories, details, feelings. You're the man. There's no offscreen voice asking questions. There's no interspersed combat footage or comments from others, on-camera or off.'
" 'What else?'
" 'A simple head shot.'
" 'What else?' he said.
" 'Any pauses, they're your pauses, I keep shooting.'
" 'What else?'
" 'Camera with a hard drive. One continuous take.'
" 'How long a take?'
" 'Depends on you. There's a Russian film, feature film, Russian Ark, Aleksandr Sokurov. A single extended shot, about a thousand actors and extras, three orchestras, history, fantasy, crowd scenes, ballroom scenes and then an hour into the movie a waiter drops a napkin, no cut, can't cut, camera flying down hallways and around corners. Ninety-nine minutes,' I said.
" 'But that was a man named Aleksandr Sokurov. Your name is Jim Finley.' "
"I'd done one film only, an idea for a film, some people said. I did it, I finished it, people saw it but what did they see? An idea, they said, that remains an idea.
"I didn't want to call it a documentary, although it was assembled completely from documents, old film footage, kinescopes of TV shows from the 1950s. This was social and historical material but edited well beyond the limits of information and objectivity and not itself a document. I found something religious in it, maybe I was the only one, religious, rapturous, a man transported.
"The man was the one individual on-screen throughout, the comedian Jerry Lewis. This was Jerry Lewis of the early telethons, the TV shows broadcast once a year to benefit people suffering from muscular dystrophy, Jerry Lewis day and night and into the following day, heroic, tragicomic, surreal.
"I looked at kinescopes of the early years, every distant minute, it was another civilization, midcentury America, the footage resembling some deviant technological lifeform struggling out of the irradiated dust of the atomic age. I edited out all the guest appearances, the lounge acts, movie stars, dancers, disabled children, the studio audience, the band. The film was all Jerry, pure performance, Jerry talking, singing, weeping, Jerry with his ruffled shirt open at the collar, bow tie undone, a raccoon flung over his shoulders, Jerry inviting the nation's love and wonder at four in the morning, in closeup, a crew-cut sweating man in semidelirium, a disease artist, begging us to send money to cure his afflicted children.
"I had him babbling in unsequential edits, one year shading into another, or Jerry soundless, clowning, he is knock-kneed and bucktoothed, bouncing on a trampoline in slow motion, the old flawed footage, the disturbed signals, random noise on the soundtrack, streaky patterns on the screen. He inserts drumsticks in his nostrils, he sticks the handmike in his mouth. I added intervals of modern music to the track, rows of tones, the sound of a certain re-echoing drone. There was an element of austere drama in the music, it placed Jerry outside the moment, in some larger surround, ahistorical, a man on a mission from God.
"I tormented myself over the running time, settling finally on a freakish fifty-seven-minute movie that was screened at a couple of documentary festivals. It could have been a hundred and fifty-seven minutes, could have been four hours, six hours. It wore me out, beat me down, I became Jerry's frenzied double, eyeballs popping out of my head. Sometimes a thing that's hard is hard because you're doing it wrong. This was not wrong. But I didn't want Elster to know about it. Because how would it make him feel, being a successor, a straight man to a rampaging comic."
" 'Film is the barricade,' I told him. 'The one we erect, you and I. The one where somebody stands and tells the truth.' "