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10 Directorial Prototype Predecessors to Classic Movies

25 April 2015 | Features, Film Lists | by Charles Barnes

shallow_grave

Often, tracking the natural transitions of a director, or any artist can be quite clearly defined, by the stages of their works. It isn’t at uncommon to cite specific periods and segments of a filmmaker’s output, be they determined by their nation of residency, such as Alfred Hitchcock, Luis Bunuel or Roman Polanski, or determined by the consistent traits dividing their works in chronological progression, such as Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson, or in regard to more profit driven motives , as in the case of the often cited George Lucas.

Sometimes two works together cohere into an exquisite marriage, or may resemble the relationship of parent and child.

When an auteur’s baby steps into science fiction sparks interest in adapting further fantastical sources, or when an eager aspirant recognizes the specific results achieved from a studio production may be utilized significantly in a dream work, or when a collective niche inherent in the film maker’s product incites the demand for another, then it is frequently a case where one product directly adheres itself to the conception of another.

The titles listed in here are in no order, outside of a quality open to invoking comparison.

 

1. Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972) and Stalker (1979)

Solaris

Much time and effort has been spent basking in the timeless glory of Tarkovsky’s immaculate lens, but instead this piece focus upon the most revered cinematic work of, science fiction among critics who detest the genre: Solaris and Stalker.

From the connotations of the titles’ alone, it isn’t hard to grasp that which most fundamentally and thematically, holds these two auteur mountains distinct. Solaris endeavors discovery, and a need to decipher answers to the wonders, if not dangers, of the Earth’s exterior. Stalker, by contrast, promotes fear, apprehension, and an inherent desire to remain unaware of what awaits such enormously intimidating questions,posed through obligation to duty or to one’s selfish desires.

stalker

Stalker never could have existed, at least not in the form in which it is revered today, without Tarkovsky’s previous foray into the realm of science fiction philosophy. From a thematic standpoint, as concerns the film’s narrative content and that which subsequently holds Tarkovsky notable for his extensive philosophical musings, and also for the profundity that so constructs his posterity.

But to enfold such a noted, exotic beauty in a coloured-visage (any colour, light or dark) of the planet Earth, to shower it in alien wonder, likely might have been lost altogether, had he not broken similar ground with Solaris previously.

Solaris, aside from being one of the most stylistically identifiable science fiction titles in history, and one of the pre-Star Wars genre highlights, is the emergence of a filmmaker whom had clearly defined the technique by which he could enable a slow, occasionally unmoving narrative, to unfold amid a breadth of shining scenery, a lens tracking its players in a divine manner, and a powerful distortion towards the character’s abilities to place a setting within their existential awareness.

The result thereafter was Stalker, which in Tarkovsky’s cannon is not merely a gem of science fiction, but a cinematic crowning achievement.

 

2. Steven Spielberg’s Duel (1971) and Jaws (1975)

duel movie

All film makers, even exceptionally popular ones, require roots. With Spielberg, his directorial ability to provoke thought through the assistance of technical proficiency and innovation found its origin in 1971’s Duel, a TV film he helmed for the American ABC.

With Duel, many distinct qualities may be cited as notable highlights toward what would be considered, not just his breakthrough picture, but a catalyst for the then future production which shifted the nature and means of Hollywood marketing : Jaws.

It is Duel’s 90-minute run time that would celebrate the power of ambiguity wherein the unseen driver of a violent truck demands that Dennis Weaver’s protagonist be subject to arduous psychological torture, a man already beset with troubles of his own.

The former will be addressed, but for now take note of Weaver’s emotional base in relateable human issues to be comparable to those of Chief Brody, and Spielberg’s mode for emotional realization in the realism surrounding his narrative players as a strong bridging point between Duel and Jaws.

jaws

But , this is minute in comparison to the larger motif that dominates the ultimate proof of progression: the enemy. In both, it can be denoted one protagonist’s gradual swelling of hatred, frustration, and determination against the vile creature which threatens first his insanity, and then his life.

And for the pedantic, it may be noted that this connection would not have been made without the cooperation, or lack thereof, of Bruce the Shark, which unknowingly beset Jaws production. IT is quite ironic that faulty mechanics would enable early textual integrity within Spielberg’s filmography, and also enable the zenith of cinematic escapism.

 

3. Carol Reed’s Odd Man Out (1947) and The Third Man (1949)

Odd Man Out (1947)

Carol Reed’s predecessor to one of the most expert of genre pieces has been lacked a contemporary revival among cinema enthusiasts. For technical veracity alone, coupled with a memorable cast, a gripping narrative, and excellent atmosphere, there is much to value in Odd Man Out.

A gang of criminals in Northern Ireland (city unspecified), presumably IRA-esque, led by James Mason’s bluntly sharply named Johnny McQueen, attempt to rob a mill in order to obtain funds. The heist goes awry when a cashier shoots Johnny and he is left behind, hiding successively across a multitude of alleyways. The rest of the film entails the police’s efforts to track the robbers, as Johnny’s compatriots ponder whether to abandon their supposedly fallen leader, or bask his probable demise.

How does this differ from The Third Man? The identity of the narrative’s central figure is f known from the start. Added to that, the character’s individual journey is the film’s focus, as opposed to a fragmented view through the lens of others. Also there is a general balancing of plots and subplots in Odd Man Out, in stark contrast to The Third Man’s devotion to Holly’s quest for truth against conspirators.

the third man cinematography

The similarities in the films may be found, other than showcasing an atmospheric European city within the thriller bracket, in the technical prowess of Mr. Reed, and particularly his eye for a talented cast and crew.

Whether via the utilization of dim lighting, the employment of an array of colorful and memorable characters, and a well realized by a company of fine character performers, building upon a thrilling screenplay that constantly opens up narrative windows, but more importantly, knows how to incorporate those elements into the story.

Viewers not yet acquainted with Odd Man Out would do well to do so immediately. the film may lack the zither-induced brilliance of Reed’s subsequent effort of 1949 but it remains a film which expertly uses an arsenal of excellent elements in the service of an expert genre piece.

 

4. Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994)

reservoir dogs acting

This entry encompasses two of the most recognized titles contained in this list, films especially well known to younger, cinephiles .

On the surface it might be noted that both films have a similar cast, similar eclectic soundtrack , a kinetic and vibrant freshness to its stylistic flavoring, violence, both amusing and mortifying, and an apparent obsession with 1970s coolness. These elements not only emerge as points of reference to encourage fan of the one film to seek out the other but also established Tarantino stereotypes which, have not seen much utilization following Pulp Fiction.

Tarantino seeds his violent cinematic universe with a mass of referential fervor . This is evident in many ways throughout these two titles . One notable characteristic, highly relevant to his first two features especially, is the casting of ‘has been’ Hollywood character icons.

pulp fiction twist contest

In Reservoir Dogs, the cranky wrath of film noir icon Lawrence Tierney caused sparkling on-screen rage. In Pulp Fiction,which was John Travolta’s comeback film featuring him as Vincent Vega, his partnering alongside the African-American watchfulness of Jules induces classic bickering and banter between two standard racial stereotypes of 1970s cinema : the Italian-American smooth talker and the blaxploitation bad-ass.

Reservoir Dogs’ success gave the director a green light with which to create the ambitious, yet successful and acclaimed Pulp Fiction.

 

5. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Hard Eight (1996) and Boogie Nights (1997)

hard eight pic

Before being compared to the earlier generation film director Robert Altman, principally due to the creation of a pornographic pseudo-family dynamic in Boogie Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson might well have be compared to the likes of Nicolas Ray or John Cassavetes, both of whom sought to create treatises concerning smaller stories, set in smaller places.

The more intimate settings delivered drama of great power, often striking due to local familiarity, as either decade-spanning epic or upper-class melodrama exulting the common man.

In Hard Eight, this formula is placed firmly inside the thriller bracket, an unconventional genre for such ideas Anderson’s screenplay did not allow for sensationalism, or action-based or reveling movement which would overshadow the dimensions of its players.

But importantly, Anderson concentrates on walks of life that might normally not be explored. In this respect, the director openly channels Altman’s governance of prostitutes-turned-entrepreneurs, country music star wanna-be’s, or ordinary California teenagers as fictional beings worthy of the kind of study often granted to kings, soldiers and serial killers.

The repeated actors as Philip Baker Hall and John C. Reilly illustrates Anderson’s command over the company of actors. Under the director’s guidance, his players extend their personas in order to flesh out complexities or knowingly provide one-note support. The point isn’t that Anderson demands what his actors attempt but how well the characterizations are tweaked in order that his actor or actresses’ expansive abilities come forth.

boogie-nights-1997

It may also be noted that similar entities concerning the abundance of fumbled, misadventure in narrative exist in order to demand exploration of characters.

For example, how might Hard Eight’s Sydney react in the wake of being drawn into a protege’s disastrous misfire? Conversely how might Buck from Boogie Nights choose to benefit from an attempted robbery-gone-horribly-wrong? It is significant to note a difference specifically arising from the ultimate effect of such ‘random catalysts of shock’.

Hard Eight assembles an array of short-term causation, whereas Boogie Nights examines the ultimate long-term effect of certain sickly comedic accidents.

 

 

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  • Charles Barnes

    I am partially considering a request to change this article’s credit to Alan Smithee.

    This does not reflect what I submitted. This has been butchered beyond belief.

    I trust, David, you don’t treat other writers with such blatant disrespect and disregard. Pathetic.

  • Bigplatts

    Whoever wrote this needs to learn how to use commas.

  • Gordon Knox

    Is there an English translation available for this list? Every single piece written by this guy is pretentious, unreadable gibberish. Stop trying so hard and try out some simple declarative sentences. And that title, really?

  • ɹǝɥdsɐɾ Ɯǝʞ

    It is an interesting article but contains a lot of highfalutin words. We write to express, not to impress.

  • Col

    So poorly written with incorrect grammar and syntax. Is this the first draft? It seems like it hasn’t been edited at all!