Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Auteurs (The Great Directors of Cinema History): Part I – Movies Spotlight – April 2015

Introduction

I have been making a lot of lists lately. With less time to write, lists are an easy way for me to talk about cinema. And yet, I seem to be tackling huge projects under the guise of creating a list. This time I will attempt to detail the greatest directors of cinema history, broken into three twenty-five director categories: The Beginnings of Cinema and Shaping the Narrative Language of Film, The Rise of the Auteur and Experimentation and The Modern Director (A.K.A. Blockbusters or Small Indies). Multiple directors fit in more than one of these categories, but I tried to put each director in the era they were most prolific in or developed their style in. I hope you enjoy the list and feel free to engage me in debate.

List is in alphabetical order.


Part I – The Beginnings of Cinema and Shaping the Narrative Language of Film


Luis Buñuel
Style/system: Spanish; worked in Spain, Mexico and France; avant-garde surrealism
Active: 1929-1977
Key films to see: Un Chien Andalou, Viridiana, The Exterminating Angel, Belle de Jour, and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie


Charles Chaplin
Style/system: British; worked in Hollywood; silent era comedies, sociopolitical commentaries
Active: 1914-1967
Key films to see: The Kid, The Gold Rush City Lights, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator


Henri-Georges Clouzot
Style/system: French; worked in France; wonderfully tense thrillers
Active: 1931-1967
Key films to see: Le Corbeau: The Raven, Quai des Orgevres, The Wages of Fear, Diabolique, and The Truth


Vittorio De Sica
Style/system: Italian; worked in Italy; neorealism as a response to the devastation in Italy both culturally and economically after WWII
Active: 1940-1974
Key films to see: Shoeshine, Bicycle Thieves, Miracle in Milan, Umberto D., and Two Women


Carl Theodor Dreyer
Style/system: Danish; worked in Denmark and France; a master of silent cinema and the close-up, he made both surreal and stark films
Active: 1919-1964
Key films to see: The Passion of Joan of Arc, Vampyr, Day of Wrath, Ordet and Gertrud


Victor Fleming
Style/system: American; worked in Hollywood; grand, vibrant epics
Active: 1919-1948
Key films to see: Captains Courageous, Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde


John Ford
Style/system: America; worked in Hollywood; westerns with John Wayne
Active: 1917-1966
Key films to see: Stagecoach, The Grapes of Wrath, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot LibertyValance


D.W. Griffith
Style/system: American; worked in Hollywood; pioneer of feature film style and struture
Active: 1908-1931
Key films to see: The Birth of a Nation, Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages, and Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl


Howard Hawks
Style/system: American; worked in Hollywood; master of all genres from gangster films to screwball comedies, westerns to film noir
Active: 1926-1970
Key films to see: Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, The Big Sleep, Red River, and Rio Bravo


Style/system: British; worked in England and Hollywood; the master of suspense, maybe the greatest director of all
Active: 1922-1976
Key films to see: Rebecca, Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Psycho


Elia Kazan
Style/system: Greek; worked on Broadway and in Hollywood; an actor’s director with an eye for new talent
Active: 1937-1976
Key films to see: Gentleman’s Agreement, A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, East of Eden, and A Face in the Crowd


Buster Keaton
Style/system: American; worked in Hollywood; silent era slapstick comedies
Active: 1917-1965
Key films to see: Our Hospitality, Sherlock Jr., The General, The Cameraman, and Steamboat Bill, Jr.


Akira Kurosawa
Style/system: Japanese; worked in Japan; samurai epics, greatly influencing filmmakers of the 1960s and 1970s
Active: 1941-1993
Key films to see: Rashomon, Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and Ran


Fritz Lang
Style/system: German-Austrian; worked in Germany and Hollywood; the master of darkness, expressionism
Active: 1919-1960
Key films to see: Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler, Metropolis, M, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, and The Big Heat


Style/system: British; worked in England; grand epics and visceral literary adaptations, the epitome of the caricature of ‘the director’
Active: 1941-1984


Georges Méliès
Style/system: French; worked in France; a pioneer of cinema, special effects and the narrative language of film
Active: 1896-1913
Key films to see: A Trip to the Moon and The Voyage Across the Impossible


F.W. Murnau
Style/system: German; worked in Germany; Expressionist silent film
Active: 1919-1931
Key films to see: Nosferatu, The Last Laugh, Faust, Sunrise, and Tabu: A Story of the South Seas


Yasujirô Ozu
Style/system: Japanese; worked in Japan; films about relationships between spouses, family, and the generations, a very static camera and 90 or 180 degree cuts
Active: 1927-1962
Key films to see: Late Spring, Early Summer, Tokyo Story, Floating Weeds, and An Autumn Afternoon


Style/system: British and Hungarian; worked in England; grand films going against the grain of British polite society, often war films as many were made during WWII, beautifully designed, shot and structured, their use of Technicolor is unmatched
Active: 1939-1972


Jean Renoir
Style/system: French; worked in France and Hollywood; poetic realism and satire
Active: 1924-1962
Key films to see: Boudu Saved from Drowning, La Grande Illusion, La Bete Humaine, The Rules of the Game, and The River


King Vidor
Style/system: American; worked in Hollywood; highly ambitious camera work at the height of cinema’s aesthetic and stylistic craftsmanship during the silent era
Active: 1913-1959
Key films to see: The Big Parade, The Crowd, Show People, The Patsy, and (the Kansas scenes of) The Wizard of Oz


Orson Welles
Style/system: American; worked on Broadway and in Hollywood; innovator, revolutionizing film aesthetics in the sound era
Active: 1934-1985
Key films to see: Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Lady from Shanghai, Touch of Evil, and F for Fake


Billy Wilder
Style/system: Austrian; worked in Germany and Hollywood (like many, fleeing the Nazis); a leader of Hollywood’s Golden Age (1950s), versatile, equally deft at comedy, film-noir and drama
Active: 1934-1981
Key films to see: Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd., Witness for the Prosecution, Some Like It Hot, and The Apartment


Style/system: German; worked in Hollywood; Hollywood’s most bankable director and maybe its most acclaimed with three Best Picture winners
Active: 1925-1970


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