5. Werner Herzog
A man who has a school in which he teaches people to pick locks in order to make movies can only make films that are extremely different from traditional ones. If one can use the term “hardcore” with a filmmaker, it is indeed with Werner Herzog, a man who has committed various crimes in order to have his films done in the way that he wants. He is a filmmaker who denies any influence from any other director; he has explained that he filled the urge to start making films and he worked until he was able to do it.
Herzog has made fictional cinema in which extreme and hard conditions can be seen, but it is in his documentaries that we can see his style in its maximum expression. Whether it is “Grizzly Man” or “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” there are constant adaptations to extreme conditions that we always see in Herzog, but it’s not only this adaptation that makes the film unique.
Herzog has a continuous interest in showing the hidden magic of landscapes that are far away from society, to see one of his films is to go away from the ordinary world and enter a world of dreams far away from everything we know.
4. Roy Andersson
The Swedish filmmaker is one of the most original and peculiar filmmakers in the current scene of international cinema. His style is one of the most consistent and recognizable due to the extremity of it. In his films, we constantly see a full/general shot that does not move and inch.
The camera is fixed normally facing two wall in which the mise-en-scene of the characters is deeply expressive; sometimes there are windows through which we see secondary actions (that sometimes are most interesting than the closer action) taking place. Also, the characters’ makeup is very charged and their faces are almost completely white; this in addition to Andersson’s direction makes them appear as living corpses.
In these films, Andersson does not develop plots according to Aristotle’s unity; instead he chains episodes of sometimes complete different characters whose relationships are ambiguous. The characters sometimes reappear and other times are not seen again, thus the sense of introduction and closure is not present in Andersson’s cinema. Instead we have a completely different experience that is hard to have in any other filmmaker. The films of Andersson are much distanced from reality, in fact they are a distinct reality whose exhaustion disturbingly resembles the one of our world.
3. Abbas Kiarostami
Abbas Kiarostami was part of the Iranian directors who gained international acclaim after the Iranian revolution. These directors were very original, since they were interested in telling the stories of their native Iran. Kiarostami was one of the most important directors of this generation of filmmakers; he was awarded at the Cannes Film Festival, where he was eventually part of the jury. He made many films and short films in which he developed a unique style that made him one the most acclaimed contemporary directors in the world.
In the films of Kiarostami, the fourth wall is continuously broken; not in a traditional way of a character talking to the camera, but with references to previous films in a trilogy and with characters that reference characters of previous films and Kiarostami himself. These films are sometimes shot in a more traditional style and sometimes in a more documentary style, which varies according to the film. Kiarostami is recognized as a filmmaker who broke with several conventions of film form, such as the way in which car scenes were used and treated.
2. Robert Bresson
This French filmmaker is one of the most revered directors in film history by film critics and filmmakers. Bresson had a very strong perspective that cinema had to be a completely different art form than theater. This led him to develop a style in which the camera plays an active role as a tool to reveal new perspectives on ordinary actions and events. Bresson wrote a book consisting of aphorisms in which he explains what he understands as cinema in contrast with theater and other art forms.
Bresson made efforts to develop an extremely depurated style in which nothing but what was necessary was seen. In these films, the details gain layers by the way in which they are shown. He became famous for the way in which he used handheld to convey emotion and to express his characters.
Bresson created films that consisted primarily of hand and glances, but it was tough in how these elements were presented and arranged that they became really cinematic; this meaning (according to Bresson) that is able to express truths that remain hidden in ordinary life.
1. Jacques Tati
The few films of Jacques Tati are the windows to a unique world in which Tati’s characters, like Monsieur Hulot, are a reflection of the chaotic nature of that world. In these films, there are constant surprises as the most ordinary objects and circumstances end up wreaking havoc.
The worlds of these films are extremely consistent as Tati made continuous efforts to remain precise and consistent with his style. It is worth mentioning that one of his greatest and most acclaimed films (“Playtime”) left him bankrupt, but it was all worth it when one sees the masterful degree of the film.
Tati took visual comedy to its highest refinement; he, along other visual comedians (Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, etc.) created a character played by himself, who was the main character and victim of his films. The style of Tati involves extremely wide frames and a continuous use of space to create complex gags.
Tati made his films with extreme care in the details and choreography, and with this he managed to create films in which chaos is presented in an almost perfect order. Tati turned Monsieur Hulot into a symbol of men struggling with modernity, society and structures in general.