×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

PopPolitics: Paul Schrader on How ‘First Reformed’ Reflects His Own Despair Over Climate Crisis (Listen)

WASHINGTON — One of the themes in Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” is how humans grapple with despair at a time when the climate crisis leaves little room for hope.

Ethan Hawke portrays Reverend Toller, a minister in a small upstate New York parish who tries to counsel a radical environmentalist Michael (Philip Ettinger), who sees only darkness in the future of the planet. As he tries to help his pregnant wife (Amanda Seyfried), Toller finds himself descending into his own bleak sense of the environment.

“It is very easy to fall into despair, and you have to make a decision not to,” Schrader tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM. “When you look at humanity and our species, it seems very clear that we have made our decision, and we are going to let this impending disaster run its course.”

He adds, “The thing that everyone kind of ignores is the exponential nature of this. All of the bad things that happened in the last 20 years, can now happen in the next five. Once these equations of climate — once they start moving, they interact.”

First Reformed” is so far one of the best reviewed movies of the year, and it is certainly one that stirs an intensity of reaction. At an MPAA screening at the National Archives on Thursday, Schrader answered questions from the audience afterward that included a mix of topics, from filmmaking technique to the influence of “Taxi Driver” to one viewer, who asked him bluntly, “Are you in despair?” Schrader’s answer was yes.

“Anyone who is optimistic at this moment hasn’t been paying attention,” he says. “There’s not a lot to be optimistic about, both in the long-range and the short-range. We are seeing this exponential rate of change.”

He says he can have hope, but “you have to choose.”

The movie was made in a breakneck 20 days, at a budget of about $3.5 million.

Those are tight parameters, but Schrader doubts that he would have been able to make his movie otherwise.

“A few years ago you saw the economics change and the cost of filmmaking dropping enormously,” he says, adding that because of the improvements in technology, “You get more raw footage in 20 days than you used to get in 50. You never stop shooting.”
He admits that he is a “little surprised” at the reaction to the movie so far, “because the films I have made tend to polarize people. They are meant to polarize people in a way. So i have never had a film that had such a one-sided positive reaction.”
Listen below:
“PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs from 2-3 pm ET/11 am-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. It also is available on demand.

More Politics

  • Hope Hicks

    Hope Hicks Refused to Answer Committee's Questions 155 Times

    Fox communications chief Hope Hicks refused to answer questions from the House Judiciary Committee on 155 separate occasions during closed-door testimony, the committee chairman said Thursday. The committee released a transcript of the hearing on Thursday afternoon. Prior to the hearing, President Trump directed Hicks not to answer questions about her service as a senior [...]

  • Hope Hicks

    Hope Hicks Gives Closed-Door Interview on Mueller Probe

    Hope Hicks appeared at the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning to give closed-door testimony on her involvement in the special counsel investigation of President Trump. The Fox communications chief was subpoenaed in May to provide documents and testimony that would aid in the committee’s investigation into obstruction of justice. After extensive negotiation, Hicks agreed [...]

  • Prince Mohammed bin Salman Abdulaziz al

    Saudi Crown Prince Should Be Investigated Over Khashoggi Killing, U.N. Report Says

    Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, should be investigated in connection with the killing of Jamal Khashoggi because of “credible evidence” that the prince is among those liable for the dissident journalist’s death, a United Nations report said Wednesday. While no “smoking gun” has yet been found that directly incriminates the prince [...]

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders Jemele Hill

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Leave the White House

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is leaving her position at the end of the month, President Donald Trump said Thursday. In two tweets, Trump announced Sanders’ departure for her home state of Arkansas before thanking her for “a job well done.” He also recommended her for the Arkansas governor position, writing, “She is [...]

  • Kellyanne Conway

    Federal Watchdog Says Kellyanne Conway Should Step Down

    A federal watchdog has recommended that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway should be fired for repeated violations of the Hatch Act. In a report on Thursday, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel found that Conway had used TV appearances and social media platforms to disparage Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity. “Ms. [...]

  • Jessica Biel Clarifies Anti-Vaccine Stance

    Jessica Biel: 'I Am Not Against Vaccinations'

    Jessica Biel clarified her stance on vaccinations after public outcry over news that the actress joined Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to lobby against a California state pro-vaccine bill. “I am not against vaccinations,” Biel wrote on Instagram Thursday morning. “I support children getting vaccinations and I also support families having the right to make educated [...]

  • 'The Sinner' film premiere

    Jessica Biel Joins Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to Lobby Against California Vaccine Bill

    Jessica Biel joined the controversial anti-vaccination advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to lobby against a California state pro-vaccine bill on Tuesday, revealed in several social media posts. “Please say thank you to the courageous @jessicabiel for a busy and productive day at the California State House,” Kennedy posted on Tuesday with a series of pictures [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content