Saturday, December 11, 2004

A Few Great Directors

John Boorman

  • Key Films: Hope and Glory, Excalibur
  • Assessment: All great directors have had their flops, but few of those who can be considered great have been as wildly inconsistent as Boorman, whose pictures range from the sublime ("Hope and Glory") to the ridiculous ("The Exorcist Part II"). Unerring taste is not a description you would apply to Boorman, but passion is, and his best movies give us unexpected, visually and psychologically stunning perspectives on familiar film themes -- whether World War II as seen through the eyes of an 8-year-old boy seeking adventure, or the Arthurian legends as a Jungian dream.
Fred Zinnemann
  • Key Films: From Here To Eternity, The Nun's Story, The Sundowners
  • Assessment: The virtual opposite of an emotionally drivcen, impressionistic artist like Boormann, Fred Zinnemann is one of the most consistent directors in film history. His pictures -- the ones listed above and many others, including High Noon, The Member of the Wedding, A Man For All Seasons, Julia and more -- are remembered for the taste and discretion with which their stories were told.
Roman Polanski
  • Key Films: Knife In The Water Rosemary's Baby, Tess, The Pianist
  • Assessment: Let's set aside his controversial and sometimes horrific personal life. Over the past 40 years, Roman Polanski has created an impressive and varied body of work. Horror often has been both a theme and a technique. But even in his most shockingly violent film, the 1971 Macbeth, filmed shortly after the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, by the Manson-LoBianco gang, his work has been carefully filmed and well acted.

Franciois Truffaut

  • Key Films: Jules and Jim, The Wild Child, The Story of Adele H.
  • Assessment: A great director who left us too soon. His best films are heartfelt, humanist stories that combine great sophistication with direct emotional contact.