Fuller on Fuller
On capturing war on film:
See, there’s no way you can portray war realistically, not in a movie nor in a book. You can only capture a very, very small aspect of it. If you really want to make readers understand a battle, a few pages of your book would be booby-trapped. For moviegoers to get the idea of real combat, you’d have to shoot at them every so often from either side of the screen. The casualties would be bad for business. Such reaching for reality in the name of art is against the law. Hell, the heavy human toll is just too much for anyone to comprehend fully. What I try to do is make audiences feel the emotional strife of total war.
On his feelings of the misconception that he revels in the glorification of violence:
I hope one day, maybe in the year 2293, a film student will be analyzing one of my films on a desktop gizmo. He’ll ask his professor what’s that funny “thing” the soldier is holding. “Well, my boy,” the professor will answer, “that was a weapon, in those days. They called it a ‘rifle.’ You only see them in museums nowadays. We no longer need weapons.’
The ‘Third Face’:
See, you’ve got three faces. Your first face is the one you’re born with, the one in the mirror every morning, a touch of your mama in those blue eyes, Papa’s ruddy cheeks and thin lips, or maybe, like me, a set of crooked chops from an ancestor only some fake genealogist could identify. Your second face is the one you develop thanks to ego, ingenuity, and sensitivity, the one people identify as “you,” laughing at punch lines, downcast when things aren’t going well, exhilarated by passion and success, cold when confusion and fear set in, charming when seduction is part of the battle plan.
Then there’s your third face. No one ever gets to see that one. It’ll never show up in any mirror nor be visible to the eyes of parents, lovers, or friends. It’s the face that no one knows but you. It’s the real you. Always privy to your deepest fears, hopes, and desires, your third face can’t lie or be lied to. I call it my mind mistress, guardian of my secret utopias, bitter disappointment, and noble visions.
From Samuel Fuller’s masterful memoir, A Third Face, quite simply one of the most eloquent and exciting accounts of a life I’ve ever had the fortune of having read. Fuller was a born story-teller, from his days as a newspaper man to his ups and downs of remaining a true independent in all his years in film. Most remarkably, however, is the utterly transfixing account of his harrowing journey on the front lines in WWII, his days proudly wearing “The Big Red One”. An essential document of 20th century American history as far as I’m concerned. And a masterful display of his inimitable acerbic wit.
Samuel Fuller. A Third Face. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002.