10 Movie Directors Who Make The Most Complex Films

Sometimes, for the use of surrealism or for showing powerful metaphors and an intricate atmosphere that seems to hide the meaning of things (or creating a new one), a film becomes what could be called complex.

For the great use of sound or imagery, or one or more of the other many elements used to compose a film, this list approaches filmmakers who make movies that can be considered complex.

As always, many things interfere while making an article like this. Also as always, memory and personal preferences are the main factors. If you think any other filmmaker should be on this list or any other film made by the directors that are here, please leave it as a recommendation in the comments section below.

So, here are 10 directors that make the most complex films:


10. Terrence Malick

Terrence Malick is without a doubt one of the best American filmmakers of all time, and also a director who makes really complex films.

From his debut with “Badlands” to his latest film “Song to Song,” even when the storylines of his movies seem clearer, the atmosphere, the script and the imagery in his films are always so singular that the final result is undoubtedly brought to a whole new level on the silver screen.

Although all of his movies from this century might not be as great as his masterpiece “The Tree of Life” that won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011, watching a Terrence Malick film is always an intriguing experience.

Malick is a brilliant filmmaker whose movies should definitely be watched and who without a doubt deserves to be considered among the directors that make the most complex films.

Terrence Malick movies you should watch:

– Badlands (1973)
– Days of Heaven (1978)
– The Thin Red Line (1998)
– The Tree of Life (2011)


9. Charlie Kaufman

Charlie Kaufman is without a doubt one of the most inventive and amazing filmmakers working today.

Starting his career in film as the screenwriter of “Being John Malkovich,” Kaufman continued his career writing movies such as “Adaptation,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” – considered by the BBC the sixth best film of the 21st century – and “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” until his directorial debut in 2008 with the masterpiece “Synecdoche, New York.”

Talking about the films he directed, with his latest film “Anomalisa” he is able to deliver, alongside with co-director Duke Johnson, all the unique traces of his stories, showing a narrative about a man who lives an ordinary life and who experiences something extraordinary. With “Synecdoche, New York,” one of the best and most complex films of this century, he tells the story of a theatre director living a crisis and recreating New York City for his new play, with a brilliant performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Using sometimes fantasy, sometimes science fiction and mixing different realities with a dreamy atmosphere in some of his works, Kaufman is truly a filmmaker who makes intricate stories with many complex characters and great dialogue.

Charlie Kaufman is a great writer and director who is one of the best in cinema today, and who truly deserves to be along the filmmakers that make the most complex films.

Charlie Kaufman movies you should watch:

– Being John Malkovich (1999; writer), directed by Spike Jonze
– Adaptation (2002; writer), directed by Spike Jonze
– Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004; writer), directed by Michel Gondry
– Synecdoche, New York (2008; writer & director)
– Anomalisa (2015; writer & director), co-directed with Duke Johnson


8. Alejandro Jodorowsky

Surrealist master Alejandro Jodorowsky is a director who undoubtedly makes some of the most intricate films.

Exercising art in many of its forms, Jodorowsky is a musician, poet, screenwriter, producer, director, comic writer, film editor and many, many other things. And this plurality as an artist is very clear in his films.

With his unique approach on surrealism, the strong and vigorous stories of his movies and the powerful metaphors and symbolism always present in his works are some of the elements that make Jodorowsky’s films so incredible to watch over and over again.

Jodorowsky is without a doubt one of the greatest artists not only in surrealist cinema, but in cinema itself.

Alejandro Jodorowsky movies you should watch:

– The Holy Mountain (1973)
– El Topo (1970)
– Santa Sangre (1989)
– Endless Poetry (2016)


7. Sergei Parajanov

Very few filmmakers are able to create such powerful imagery as Sergei Parajanov.

The way art itself seems to be present in every frame of his films is something that makes his films so unique. From the composition of his shots to the production design, allied with the powerful stories presented on his movies, Parajanov is a brilliant filmmaker whose works should be watched again and again.

From his earlier works in the 1950s until his last film, Parajanov became one of cinema’s greatest masters and a filmmaker who definitely makes some of the most complex films.

Sergei Parajanov movies you should watch:

– Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965)
– The Color of Pomegranates (1969)
– The Legend of Suram Fortress (1985; co-directed with Dodo Abashidze)
– Ashik Kerib (1988; co-directed with Dodo Abashidze)


6. Andrei Tarkovsky

Alright, if you’ve seen “Stalker,” “The Mirror,” “Solaris,” “Nostalghia” or “The Sacrifice,” you know what we’re talking about.

Russian master Andrei Tarkovsky is one of the best filmmakers in history. He also makes the most philosophical and complex films. The way he approaches humanity in his movies is something truly remarkable and exceptional. As he once said, “Relating a person to the whole world: that is the meaning of cinema.”

Approaching personal drama, science fiction and even history in his films, all powered with poetry, compelling images and an astonishing cinematography, Tarkovsky’s films are so full of subtlety that the result becomes as complex as it could be.

Tarkovsky is one of cinema’s greatest masters and his movies should definitely be watched again and again.

Andrei Tarkovsky movies you should watch:

– Ivan’s Childhood (1962)
– Andrei Rublev (1966)
– Solaris (1972)
– The Mirror (1975)
– Stalker (1979)
– Nostalghia (1983)
– The Sacrifice (1986)