Irvin Kershner lived a prolific life in the arts and enjoyed a critically acclaimed career as a film director. Kershner was in a certain respect a savior of sequels, having directed movie sequels which surpassed the original.
Kershner surpassed Elliot Silverstein’s “A Man Called Horse” with the 1976 sequel “The Return of a Man Called Horse”. Of course more famously Kershner directed “The Empire Strikes Back” for George Lucas’s Star Wars series. Both these films were far more critically acclaimed then their precursors, the only exception may be Kershner’s work on “Robocop 2”.
Though, his career in film is far more diverse having worked as a cinematographer, editor and actor; his death on Nov. 27, 2010 will be remembered by many. Kershner directed 15 feature films including “A Fine Madness” with Sean Connery, who Kershner later directed in the bond movie “Never Say Never Again”. Kershner also shot nearly 300 documentaries, directed a number of Television movies and episodes of series, as well as acted in Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ”.
To celebrate Kershner’s passion for cinema here are a few thoughts from the director himself courtesy of Michael Singer’s book A Cut Above: 50 film directors talk about their craft.
Irvin Kershner on the Art and Business of Film
“People expect you to be consistent, but I think that’s very uncreative. The creative process has to do with inconsistency. I don’t see how you can have art without ambiguity.”
“I think the most important thing is to question everything. Maybe it’s my Zen training, but I believe that everything should be scrutinized.”
“George Lucas said something interesting when he asked me to do The Empire Strikes Back. I said ‘George, why do you want me’… and George said, ‘Because you know everything a director’s supposed to know, but you’re not Hollywood.'”
In the interview Kershner commented frequently on the qualities of inconsistency, fittingly enough he had this to say even after working on one of the biggest commercial film franchises of all time.
“The business of filmmaking has become so commercial…Film is an expression. You’re not documenting scenery, you’re revealing the human heart. The greatest landscape in film is the human face. Well, something has happened in our time and its only profit that seems to count, not what the film says or what it can do for people. We are living in a time of moral indifference…but I think it will change.”
That said Kershner was well aware he was making a teaser for the next film in the Star Wars series, but he still captured a core of human emotion completely devoid from the rest of the series.