(...) Violence is never an end, but the most effective of the means of access, and those punches, weapons, dynamite explosions have no other purpose than to blast away the accumulated debris of habit, to create a breach -- in brief, to open up the shortest roads. And the frequent recourse to a discontinuous, abrupt technique which refuses the conventions of classical editing and continuity is a form of the 'superior clumsiness' which Cocteau talks about, born of the need for an immediacy of expression that can yield up, and allow the viewer to share in, the original emotions of the auteur.
Violence is still a weapon, and a double-edged one -- making physical contact with an audience insensitive to anything new, imposing oneself as an individual, insubordinate if not rebellious.
Violence cannot continue to exist alone without self-annihilation; the other pole of creativity for these directors is reflection. Violence has no other purpose, once the ruins of conventions are reduced to dust, than to establish a state of grace, a void, in the midst of which the heroes, completely unfettered by any arbitrary constraints, are free to pursue a process of self-interrogation, and to delve deep into their destiny. That is what generates those long pauses, those turns that are at the centre of Ray's films, as they are in the films of Mann, Aldrich and Brooks. Violence is thus justified by meditation, each so subtly linked to the other that it would be impossible to separate them without annihilating the very soul of the film. This dialectic of themes reappears in terms of the mise en scene as the dialectic of efficacity and contemplation.
Like every revolution this one brings together men who are more linked by what they are fighting against than by their profound ambitions. It is justification enough for their struggle that all four are motivated by the same desire to produce work that is modern. Even though it is with different emphases, all four at the same time draw the most striking picture of the contemporary world; they touch us by their immediacy, the physical feeling of the accuracy of what they have drawn.
Of them all, Nicholas Ray is without doubt the greatest and the most secret; without doubt the most spontaneously poetic. All his films are traversed by the same obsession with twilight, with the solitude of living creatures, the difficulty of human relationships (and that is not the only thing he has in common with Rossellini). Unadapted to a hostile world disturbed by the resurgence of primordial violence, his characters are all more or less marked with the stamp of a new mal de siecle which it would be difficult for us to disown.
(...) Such, without doubt, is the future of the cinema, in the sense that naivete, synonymous with perspicacity, is set in opposition to the wiles and tricks of the professional scriptwriters. Ray, Brooks, Mann and Aldrich are, in different ways, all naifs: Ray in the childlike clarity of his look, the provocative humility of his narratives; Brooks and Mann in the anachronistic honesty of their mise en scene; Aldrich, finally, in the candour of the acting and the unsophisticated use of effects. For years the cinema has been dying from intelligence and subtlety. Now Rossellini is breaking down the door; but you can also breathe in that gust of fresh air reaching us from across the ocean.
Excerto de Notes on a Revolution, Jacques Rivette, Cahiers du Cinéma 54