Dario Argento Says "Cinema Doesn’t Heal or Cure You of Anything"

Dario Argento and Jennifer Connelly behind the scenes of 'Phenomena'Credit: Titanus
Learn what one of the masters of horror has to say about the genre. 

Dario Argento is responsible for an immense amount of nightmares. The Italian director has been scaring and scarring audiences for a generation. His influential work in the horror genre during the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in the subgenre known as giallo, earned him the nicknames "Master of the Thrill" and the "Master of Horror."

Recently, he attended a retrospective of his films and gave an enlightening interview where he talked about his career and the responsibility of film and television to deeply affect you.

When it came to horror movies, Argento said, “I think people like horror films because it provokes such strong sensations that they do not understand. I have friendship and solidarity with these awful stories—[I receive] a feeling of great pleasure from these terrible ceremonies.”

Dario Argento with Donald Pleasance on 'Phenomena.'Credit: Titanus
After being confronted with how scary his movies can be, Argento said, “No, I’m not scared of my own films. They’re stories that I tell that come from deep inside of me, I know them well. So once they’re done, I don’t see them. I see them rarely or even never, because once they’re done, I want to work on the next project and look towards the future.”

Argento also confronted the very idea of cinema. We tend to think it's something personal and intuitive, but Argento disagrees. 

“No. No. Cinema is not therapy. It’s very important work, but it’s concentrated on story. It would be too easy if cinema were a form of therapy, because everyone would, rather than go to a psychoanalyst, just go to the movies. Cinema doesn’t heal or cure you of anything. What cinema is, is telling a story of something that impulsively comes from inside of you—from your soul. In my case, it’s something that is suggested from deep within. I start with a very small idea, and around that idea, I build the puzzle, and add to it until I have the whole film. It’s a small but very important idea. So why do I make cinema? Maybe because in reality, I want to be loved by the public.”

When it came to his life before being a director, Argento talked about how his past life helped him in his directing. There were no wasted days or years. All of it became information he would use to make movies later.

“I did learn a lot. Before becoming a director, I was a journalist, and in my work, I interviewed a lot of famous directors, for instance, Fritz Lang and John Huston. I remember in particular an interview with Jean-Luc Godard that was very strange and bizarre. There were many others—many that I don’t recall. But what I learned from them was what cinema is. It’s different from literature or painting. It’s very mysterious. It’s born inside of you. You have to tell it not on the page, but through images.”

Argento finished describing what he finds to be the most important elements of the movies, saying, “The camera is the most important element of cinema.” 

What do you think about all of this? I feel like this is an excellent window into the soul of one of our greatest and most terrifying minds. 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.      

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