In cinema, there are conventions and techniques that help filmmakers create experiences for the viewers. These conventions appear in most films and are safe ways to create films. But there are times in which some directors develop a style of their own that lets them create films that are highly unique. Their cinema becomes a universe of their own in which there are other kinds of expectations than in traditional cinema, and thus these films become unique experiences.
These directors normally have both thematic interests and formal techniques that appear again and again in the films, and let us tell them apart from the others. Here is a list of 10 directors whose films are different from all others, and whose style cannot be replicated.
10. Luchino Visconti
One of the greatest Italian directors, as with many other great filmmakers of his time, he started his career in neorealism and ended up developing a style of his own through the years (Fellini is a great example of this phenomena). Visconti became one of the most internationally respected directors and won several awards in distinct film festivals. He worked with the some of the greatest actors of his time, and adapted some of the most challenging novels in literature.
His adaptations of books such as “Der Tod in Venedig” and “L’Étranger” reveal the style that Visconti created in the films of his late career. Visconti was interested in the decadence and crises of the 20th century. His films are full of philosophical meditations and references to Western art and philosophy, and crafted with a mastery that can only be expected of a filmmaker whose career and education are as vast as Visconti’s, one of the great masters.
9. Eric Rohmer
A student of the great André Bazin and the founder of Gazette du Cinema with Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer is one of the key figures in the French New Wave. As with the other directors of the movement, Rohmer distanced himself from it and developed a style of his own for years to come. His style is characterized by the deep interest he puts in his characters. In his films, we see complex characters involved in relationships that reveal them.
The cinema of Rohmer is one that does not rely on complex productions or require massive budgets. The films are focused on acting and mise-en-scene. Rohmer has the ability to take the most mundane circumstances and, through cinema, transform them in powerful moments that reveal a character and their perception of the world.
A common dynamic in his films are love triangles and characters with existential crises, and a great influence for him in his early career was the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre.
8. Wes Anderson
The universe that Wes Anderson has created through his several films is one of the most original and distinctive in contemporary cinema. When one sees one his films, there are certain and very clear expectations that reveal the consistency with which Anderson has crafted his work. In the plastic and formal aspect, the films have a palette of colors and symmetry that is constant. There are also constant visual gags that have taken the old way of comedy into contemporary cinema.
There is also the dramatic aspect in the films. The characters of Anderson, apart from being in similar circumstances of isolation and melancholy, behave in a way that is different from reality. Maybe this is the key aspect that makes these films so unique – the uncomfortable and direct interaction that we see between the characters.
Maybe the greatest example of this kind of acting is Bill Murray, who constantly appears in Anderson’s films. They have an energy that indeed does not feel real in the conventional way, but that reveals a deeper feeling and perspective of the world.
7. Darren Aronofsky
Darren Aronofsky is one of the most challenging directors working in Hollywood today, and a filmmaker whose success in the commercial industry is a mystery. His first film was the low budget “Pi” and his latest film is the controversial “Mother!” starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. Both of these films are crafted in a style that breaks with the classic and universal cinema that Hollywood studios produce, revealing that Aronofsky is a director who has been able to remain true to the style of films that he wants to make.
A common interest in religion can be seen in the films of Aronofsky, which creates a thematic unity between them. Whether it is the clear adaption of the myth in “Noah,” the intellectual references of “Pi” or the allegory of “Mother!”, these films always deal with divinity and religion in some way or another. Aronofsky crafts his films in such a way that they are experiences that challenge us, not always delivering the classic pleasure to which we are accustomed.
6. Yasujirō Ozu
Few have achieved the degree of simplicity in expression that Yasujirō Ozu had in making films. Without barely any movement, with almost the same characters in almost the same circumstances he crafted films that reveal the human condition in a unique way that has influence film theorist such as David Bordwell and directors such as Wim Wenders. Akira Kurosawa said that he hoped that young people saw the films of Ozu, due to these films were the ones that the world needed.
About the films of this Japanese master, Wim Wenders said, “If in our century, something sacred still existed, if there were something like a sacred treasure of the cinema, then for me that would have to be the work of the Japanese director Yasujirô Ozu … For me, never before and never again since has the cinema been so close to its essence and its purpose: to present an image of man in our century, a usable, true and valid image in which he not only recognises himself, but from which, above all, he may learn about himself.”