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Paul Thomas Anderson on ‘Inherent Vice’ and the Art of Adaptation

With Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson will become the first filmmaker to adapt the work of legendary author Thomas Pynchon, known for his dense and complex novels. The director and cinephile talks to Indiewire about his longtime relationship to Pynchon’s work and how he approached the film.

“When you find writers you like, you get possessive. You get that kind of one-on-one relationship sometimes, this imaginary relationship you have with some writers you really enjoy,” he explains. “I think that I had a kind of possessive feeling that if anybody was going to do this — if anyone was going to f*** it up, I would prefer that I would be the one to f*** it up.”

Anderson was keen to strike the right balance between showing due deference to the source material and realizing that he is still making a unique piece of art. “The moment that you put any kind of reverence down for the material and treat it with a little bit more disregard from time to time, it could become really liberating,” he says. “That’s the book and this is the movie — we’ve got another job to do. So it was this combination of deep respect and wanting to get it right mixed with, ‘Well, we’re on the road and we’ve got a job to do. How do we do it right?’”

The longtime advocate of celluloid also touched on why he prefers a 35mm print over a digital file. “Not to sound like a hippie, but it’s just the vibe, the feeling. It’s lived-in: flickering frames versus 1s and 2s,” he explains. “I’m sure there are technical things you see on the DCP that probably come off a little better than on 35. It’s more that the 35mm print is a living, breathing thing that is changing all the time, from one performance to the next. As small as the change is, it’s changing — it gathers dust every time it runs through the projector. So using that hippie language, it feels more alive to me.”

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