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Vincent Gallo Discusses the Very Adult Film, 'The Brown Bunny'

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That billboard was taken from a still from the only version of the film that was censored for the Japanese market only. And that particular still was used in a film that could play to 12 year-old children and up. So what was suggestive and provocative about that billboard was the boldness of the black and white, the gigantic white space, the huge font, and the huge area that said “In Color – X Adults Only.” It was done clearly to up the ante on a creative level, not up the ante on a provocative level.

Why did you make the second half of the movie, if it’s the first half that’s more where you were going?
I didn’t say that I was going for the first half. You said that. I said that the second half and the first half work together well. The first half is more reflective of my…a stronger reflection of my sensibility. But the film as a whole works juxtaposed together. That’s what I said.

I guess the question is why does it have to go there?
Why don’t you just get to the point and just say why did I use sex in the movie? Why ask it in a vague way? Why don’t you just ask me the same dumb question? You saw the film.

I was trying to ask it in the artistic context.
I’m not an artist. I mean, why ask me in the artistic context? I’m not an artist. I have never said once here today that I was an artist. I’ve not given you the impression that I feel entitled as an artist, or that I’m doing things purposely to be avant-garde or to be marginal.

I’m moving toward love and hope and beauty. I’m always doing things that I’m assuming are beautiful and that a lot of people will find beautiful. I’m disappointed and surprised when people don’t find my idea of beauty beautiful. I’m surprised, basically surprised.

I’m not shooting for marginal levels. I’m not shooting to do marginal work. And I’m not motivated by provocative reactions. I mean, to make a movie takes years. I don’t know what you do with your time and how hard you work on your work, but I don’t think you’d sit there and write for three and a half years and give up your house and your career and your money and you’d go bald and go gray and have your prostate blow up, just to provoke people. I think you’d have to be motivated by things that were really part of your interest, what you found beautiful. And to respond to the sex scene to somebody who’s seen the movie in that way, just blows my mind.

I’m using traditional iconic images. Pornography is the ability for somebody to have enhanced sexual pleasure or sexual fantasy free from responsibility, guilt, insecurity, consequence, etc. etc. What I’ve done is taken those icons of pornography and juxtaposed them against responsibility, insecurity, resentment, hate, greed, mourning - together. There’s no way to separate them in my film. There’s no way to look at that scene and be titillated or sexually aroused. People who get off on pornography are revolted just by the kissing scenes because they can’t take the level of intimacy and complex issues surrounding intimacy in that film. The graphic images are used to enhance those sequences.

It’s like none of the things that I’ve ever done in my life have been self-glorifying – ever. Everything that I do is for personal sacrifice. I sleep on a miserably uncomfortable horrible bed because it looks good. For 25 f***ing years I sleep on that horrible bed with that Amish quilt because it looks good. I do everything in my life because I believe… I don’t give a f*** about my body, about myself, about my face, about my reputation, about anything to do with my career. I put the focus on things that I think are important and beautiful. And they transcend me. And my work is much more interesting than me.

To call that film narcissistic or self-indulgent because I multi-task? Do you think it’s fun to work without an assistant? Do you think it’s fun to work without support, a production office? To sit there in a f***ing van with three guys, driving through the desert? A van packed with camera equipment that I have to unload every day, that I have to fix every day, that I have to reload into the van because God forbid one of them should lift one f***ing case on the film? Do you think that was self-indulgent?

Matthew McConaughey does 600 pushups before he does his shirtless scene. I haven’t even worked with a f***ing make-up person in films. You think I made myself look great? Do you think it’s fun to show your c*** in a film for ten billion to scrutinize for eternity? Do you think I get off on that? I was interested in the film for the purpose of the film, and I moved past my insecurities, my self-doubt, my self-hate, my incredible privacy that I value. I pushed that aside to achieve the goals that I had in the movie. And I think they’re very clear in the film. I think if you see that film, it’s clear that my intentions were to create disturbing effects around intimacies – both metaphysical and personal intimacies with this character’s life.

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