I’ve never been much of a fan of the work of Brian De Palma. From Carrie to The Untouchables, his films, punctuated with heavy-handed moments, just plod along. But more to the point, he is a relentless visual plagiarist.
Body Double is a poorly rendered sensational take on Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Blow Out a dull reimaging of Antonioni’s Blow Up, and The Untouchables climactic scene a trite frame-by-frame reproduction of Eisenstein’s Odessa Steps.
All of this is just fine. Each to his own. That is until I read a De Palma quote in Julie Salmon’s book The Devil’s Candy, a exhaustive blow-by-blow account of the disastrous production of Bonfire of the Vanities.
“Take an idea that has to be told in visual images. That’s what I always tell my students. It can be Super 8. Take any cliche – somebody killing somebody. Pure action, but make it original.” Original was the word he used. Original. Whatever you want to say about De Palma, love him or not, the guy just isn’t that.
Which made me realize the simplest of things, a truth that emanates around the world today: Truth is anything you want it to be. You think it, and that’s what it is. So, here’s to that.