'Balazs talks about the ability (and the responsibility) of cinema "to show things as they are". And he says cinema can "rescue the existence of things". That's precisely it. I have another quote, from Cézanne, where he says: "Things are disappearing. If you want to see anything, you have to hurry." So back to the awful question: why do I make films? Well, because... Something happens, you see it happening, you film it as it happens, the camera sees it and records it, and you can look at it again, afterwards. The thing itself may no longer be there, but you can still see it, the fact of its existence hasn't been lost. The act of filming is a heroic act (not always, not often, but sometimes). For a moment, the gradual destruction of the world of appearances is held up. The camera is a weapon against the tragedy of things, against their disappearing.'
I know the Autopsies project should be distinguishing between things and objects, but I thought WW's comments might be useful.
(Incidentally, where exactly did Cézanne say: 'Tout disparaît...', what were his exact words?)