So, should a director not even consider the audience and how they will react to his or her work? Of course, there is a delicate balancing act between being true to oneself as an artist, without completely alienating the outside world.
David Lynch has the ability to create a baffling, yet accessible masterpiece such as Mulholland Drive, while at the same time he can make an equally baffling and brilliant, but almost impenetrable film, such as Inland Empire and Lost Highway.
Lynch has never ceased making films, despite the sometimes hostile reaction to his work, because ultimately he is more concerned with expressing himself honestly as an artist, rather than being paralyzed by public perceptions of his work.
Thus, the audience is always there for every film a director makes, but the real question is if one cares about what the audience thinks? Can one imagine what a great loss to cinema it would have been if Scorsese had went into exile after his initial hardships?
For directors such as Cimino and Carax, the secret is to keep making films for the right reason, and to not let the outside world determine the kinds of films they ultimately do make.
It is interesting to note that Cimino and Carax were ultimately vindicated in the same year—2012, at the Venice and Cannes film festivals, respectively.
At the 2012 Venice Film Festival, Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate was presented in a restored print overseen by The Criterion Collection, and after the screening, the audience broke out into thunderous applause. The Venice Film Festival also awarded Cimino the 2012 Persol Award for Heaven’s Gate because, in the words of festival director Alberto Barbera, “Cimino has exalted the filmmaking art and offered a portrait of America both critical and passionate, lucid and compelling.”
The Criterion Collection has also released Heaven’s Gate as part of their highly respected catalog of films on DVD/Blu Ray.
At the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, one of the most talked about and acclaimed films was Leos Carax's Holy Motors. Holy Motors was widely discussed as being in the running for the Palm D’Or, but ultimately lost out to Michael Haneke’s Amour.
However, The Indomina Group acquired U.S. distribution rights to Holy Motors at the Cannes Film Festival. In addition, Leos Carax received the Pardo d’onore Swisscon award at the 2012 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland; this award is given out annually by Locarno to “a master of contemporary cinema.”
Ultimately, what is most interesting to note about this insurgence in the careers of Cimino and Carax is the timing. Literally decades have passed since their early initial success, and subsequent derision by fans and critics, so now their body of work can be judged on their own terms.
They have been able to withstand the psychological need humans seem to have for taking down that which they once loved, and now they can be seen as they truly are—great artists who have been unfairly misunderstood for decades.