Marcel Ophüls (1927 - ) is a documentary filmmaker and former actor.
I was aware that Ophuls could appear to be a rather disgruntled man, particularly when he damns certain writers and trends. And yet his tone was good-natured, rather witty, and self-mocking, and he had been encouraged to continue in this vein for I was laughing with him. We began to talk about the ethics of interviewing.
“You do not use individuals’ lives or individuals’ statements or the reflection that they give of themselves as objects or tools. So you do not script in advance. You don’t say, ‘We’re going to see so and so because he’ll tell us about this or that.’ Right? And that’s where the big difference is between making a feature film and a documentary. An actor has been paid to be put into a fictional situation. And paying actors is the least exploitive way of going about making a film. I don’t like documentaries and I often don’t like documentary filmmakers. Nor did my father. For actors are professionals who create an illusion which then tells us something about the truth or reflections of a reality. That’s wonderful.”
Ophuls wanted our conversation to move along freely, without paying attention to the prepared questions. At one point I asked Ophuls whether we should continue talking about the collaboration or move on to another question about documentaries… He went on to tell me about his many discussions with Francois Truffaut on the ethics of filmmaking.
Read the full interview from Through Parisian Eyes [PDF]