Looking Like You're Not Working Hard
"People ask if some of the dialogue is improvised," says Linklater, "But every word is
scripted. It's a testament to Ethan and Julie at the top of their game if the audience
thinks they're making it up as they go along. An enormous amount of work goes into
the script and the conception and we work really, really hard to come up with
dialogue that feels natural and authentic, that flows the way real conversation flows.
There's this magical place we get to where I'm directing and they're acting and I
have a movie to make and they have a ton of dialogue to memorize, and they finally
know it so well that they can kind of forget it isn't real."
Long -- very long -- uncut takes, framing Celine and Jesse in conversation as they
walk or drive through village and countryside, are signature stylistic elements that
immerse the viewer in the moment-to-moment of their relationship.
"It's actually torture," says Delpy of the marathon takes. "Sometimes we cry. It's so
much easier to do a big dramatic scene like the fight in the hotel than to look relaxed
and unself-conscious with the camera going and going."
"They're a blast," says Hawke of the challenging takes, "But it's so much work. That
opening car shot is 14 minutes long and we tell the whole story. People wonder how
we do that kind of thing in all the movies and, sad to say, it's just we rehearse and
rehearse until blood's coming out of our ears. When you do it, if you do it right, it
seems effortless and that's the goal. Rick is an athlete -- practice, practice, practice.
We write the thing and write the thing and one day Rick says "alright, the writers
have been fired and I want to take the actors out in the car." With a very long take
the magic isn't in editing -- the magic is on the day. It's a lot of pressure. I love it."
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