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The ten thousand things and the one true only.

by Kip Manley

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Things to keep in mind:
The secret of ecstasy.

DAVID FROST
You once said you respected both atheists and religious people, but not agnostics.

ORSON WELLES
That’s right.

FROST
Because an agnostic says he doesn’t know and you’ve got to decide one way or the other?

WELLES
I think you should, because the question is are you a religious man or not? I don’t think there’s a good way of living in the world unless you are one of the two. You make a decision that you are a religious man, which is more important actually than a personal God, or you must make the tragic decision that we are totally alone in an indifferent universe. The true atheist belief is a noble and splendid position to take, one requiring great courage and great character. Or you must be a religious man. The fellow who doesn’t do either is copping out in both directions.

FROST
And you made the decision to be a religious man?

WELLES
Tune in next week and you will hear Welles on that subject on a very small station. You know that I hate to hear people talking about God, unless they have a vocation for talking about it.

FROST
But on the other hand, you said how important it is to make a decision.

WELLES
But I don’t have to inform our listeners and viewers about it. It’s not because I don’t want to tell you my views, but I think the minute you start on that there is a whiff of preaching, and I’m very allergic to that. I’m also embarrassed by expressions of religion in the movies. I hate it when people pray on the screen. It’s not because I hate praying, but whenever I see an actor fold his hands and look up in the spotlight, I’m lost. There’s only one other thing in the movies I hate as much, and I really can’t say it. But they’re doing it all the time in movies, and that’s sex. You just can’t get in bed or pray to God and convince me on the screen!

FROST
I hesitate to draw any conclusions from that, but is that an indication of the limitations of movies? Loving and praying are two of the most important things in the world. Why can’t you do them in the movies?

WELLES
Because they are both ecstatic. They are conditions of ecstasy, and I think that is not to be communicated by a couple of people, or one person, or any combinations there of, unless it’s actually happening, in which case it belongs in a monastery or in a bordello. Ecstasy is really not part of the thing we can do on celluloid. Any kind of thing that gets up to that pitch of human experience.


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