Skip to content

6 Directors Who Are Obsessed With Details In Their Movies

06 June 2013 | Features, People Lists | by David Zou

directors obsessive details

There is a small bunch of directors in movie history, they aim 100%  authenticity and perfection in every movie they make. They never use a studio when the real location is available, they are keen to adhere to their no-CGI-wherever-possible rule, and they are sticklers for ensuring the mood of their films are adequately translated in the visuals.

Actors hate them, because before the shooting, they will send actors to hell to accept whatever training necessary. During the shooting, they treat actors like cattle and even don’t care about their lives. Producers hate them, they are notorious for going through take after take after take in order to get a scene just so, which takes huge amount of time and money.

But we love them, the movies they made are not perfect, but we can go into the story easily and almost immediately because of their meticulous eyes for tiny details. 

Here we list 6 of the most detail-obsessive directors in movie history, to read how they try to achieve perfection in those films is nothing less spectacular than watching their remarkable movies.


6. Christopher Nolan



Case 1 The Dark Knight Rises


The Movie: Chris Nolan’s final chapter in his sprawling Batman saga isn’t perfect, but it brings the trilogy to a pleasingly satisfying close. Given the hype and the expectations going in, we’d say that’s quite the achievement.

Attention To Detail: So keen was Nolan to adhere to his no-CGI-wherever-possible rule, that he managed to achieve a colossal feat of logistics: closing down Wall Street in order to stage a brawl involving hundred of extras, alongside his leading man and chief antagonist. As Christian Bale would comment later, the shoot was unbridled mayhem, but the end result is truly staggering.


Case 2 Inception


The Movie: Chris Nolan’s head-spinning action thriller takes the twisty-turny subject matter of malleable dreamscapes and proceeds to lead his audience down the rabbit hole in spectacularly entertaining style.

Attention To Detail: Edith Piaf’s Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien serves as the musical cue that “kicks” our heroes up through the various levels of consciousness, but also informs Hans Zimmer’s booming score in pleasingly subtle fashion. The instrumental theme Zimmer uses to build tension throughout the last hour of the film is actually a drastically slowed down arrangement of the very same song. As time moves slowly through dreams, this is how the characters would actually hear the music! Cool, no?


5. Alfred Hitchcock



Case 1 Psycho


The Movie: Hitchcock’s most frightening film, which he initially considered to be something of a joke, an exercise in toying with his audience’s emotions. And there you were thinking he was a cruel piece of work!

Attention To Detail: Hitch subtly indicates Marion Crane’s progression from wide-eyed innocent to thief on the run by showing her in a white bra and carrying a white purse before she steals the money. Once the money has been taken however, she carries a black purse and is later seen wearing a black bra. Nice imagery there.


Case 2 The Birds


The Movie: Alfred Hitchcock turns our feathered friends into squawking, clawing creatures of terror. Arguably his most frightening film after Psycho. And possibly Frenzy…

Attention To Detail: Poor Old Tippi Hedren. Seen here appearing in her big break, the actress was subject to the cruel whims of the notoriously mischievous Hitchcock. Determined that Hedren would not seem suitably terrified if she were reacting to mere props, Hitch insisted on setting live birds upon her, even tying some of them to her clothes. Hedren would go on to recount that one of them came a hair’s breadth from pecking her eye out, in a particularly frenzied attack scene. Still, she did look genuinely scared.


4. Stanley Kubrick



Case 1 The Shining


The Movie: Stephen King was never hugely keen on Kubrick’s adaptation of his seminal haunted hotel story, not least because the director was at pains to establish an ambiguity over just what is going on at the Overlook. King has gone on record as saying he always believed there to be supernatural forces at play, but Kubrick is far less explicit as to how much of Jack Torrance’s madness is already in place before he arrives at the hotel.

Attention To Detail: Look closely at the scenes in which Jack appears to be talking to one of the hotel’s “ghosts”. On almost every occasion, there will be a mirror or a window nearby, be it with Grady in the bathroom, the barman in the bar, or the old lady in room 237. Is Jack talking to himself, the whole time? Kubrick is at pains to pose the question, whether you pick up on it or not…


Case 2 Dr. Strangelove


The Movie: Stanley Kubrick’s wartime spoof might have poked fun at the business of war-mongering, but he wasn’t about to get any of the details wrong. The man had a reputation to uphold, after all.

Attention To Detail: Not only was Kubrick’s B-52 bomber described by US Airforce personnel as “absolutely correct”, his war-room was also designed in excruciating detail. One thing Kubrick wouldn’t budge on was the necessity of the grand table to be covered in green baize. Yes, the film was shot entirely in black and white, but that’s hardly the point, is it?


Case 3 2001: A Space Odyssey


The Movie: Stanley Kubrick takes on human evolution and mankind’s constant need to push back the frontiers of our experience with this beautiful, balletic take on the sci-fi genre.

Attention To Detail: The film’s many moon sequences were shot in a studio (not even Kubrick would insist on doing it on the moon), but Kubrick still demanded that the equipment used would work had they actually gone up there to do it. There’s authenticity, and then there’s mania…

Pages: 1 2 3


Other Brilliant Movie Posts On The Web


Like Us on Facebook!

  • Nathan Falldorf

    I like all the choices except Nolan. Just because he decided to not use CGI doesn’t make films better. His huge fight scene in Gotham felt very scripted. Directors with attention to detail wants something real. There are just too many gaps in Nolans films that have either no point or doesn’t make sense why the characters are doing illogical things. But cheers to the rest of the Directors.