Andy Warhol Jonas Mekas - Essay

Jonas Mekas

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The work of Andy Warhol] is the last word in the Direct Cinema. It is hard to imagine anything more pure, less staged, and less directed than Andy Warhol's "Eat," "Empire," "Sleep," "Haircut," movies. I think that Andy Warhol is the most revolutionary of all film-makers working today. He is opening to film-makers a completely new and inexhaustible field of cinema reality. It is not a prediction but a certainty that soon we are going to see dozens of "Eat," "Haircut," or "Street" movies done by different film-makers and there will be good and bad and mediocre "Eat" movies, and very good "Eat" movies, and someone will make a masterpiece "Eat" movie. What to some still looks an actionless nonsense, with the shift of our consciousness which is taking place will become an endless variety and an endless excitement of seeing similar subjects or the same subject done differently by different artists. Instead of asking for Elephant Size Excitement we'll be able to find aesthetic enjoyment in the subtle play of nuances.

There is something religious about this…. There is something very humble and happy about a man (or a movie) who is content with eating an apple. It is a cinema that reveals the emergence of meditation and happiness in man. Eat your apple, enjoy your apple, it says. Where are you running, away from yourself, to what excitement? If all people could sit and watch the Empire State Building for eight hours and meditate upon it, there would be no more wars, no hate, no terror—there would be a happiness regained upon earth.

Jonas Mekas, "Movie Journal" (reprinted by permission of The Village Voice and the author; copyright © The Village Voice, Inc., 1964), in The Village Voice, Vol. IX, No. 43, August 13, 1964, p. 13.∗