In art (especially in cinema), poetry – not necessarily written poetry – can be something that can make feelings, situations, moments and many other things acquire an even more intense meaning. Something that is truly difficult to put into words. A thing that works because of the infinite elements that help these emotions come to life on the screen.
Some directors are true masters in bringing poetry to the silver screen and this article is dedicated to exploring filmmakers that are true masters in creating poetic films.
As complex as the definition “poetic” can be, it is never too late to remember that many things interfere with the choices in making an article like this. As always, memory and personal preferences are the main factors.
If you think any other filmmakers could be on this list, please leave their names and some of their movies as a recommendation in the comments section below.
So, here are the 10 directors that make the most poetic films.
10. Terrence Malick
Terrence Malick might not be releasing the greatest films since the masterpiece “The Tree of Life” won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. But he is still one of the most interesting filmmakers working today, and his films definitely have a very poetic atmosphere.
It is fascinating how he is able to approach dark themes in such a poetical way, both visually and narratively. Violence, jealousy, war or the complexity of modern world are all themes approached by Malick in a way that makes these subjects even more complex.
Malick is an amazing filmmaker whose movies have a very unique aura, and definitely deserves to be considered among the directors who make the most poetic films.
Movies by Terrence Malick you should watch:
– Badlands (1973)
– Days of Heaven (1978)
– The Thin Red Line (1998)
– The Tree of Life (2011)
9. Kar-wai Wong
Kar-wai Wong is one of the best filmmakers working today. His style, full of striking imagery allied with great writing, resulted in many acclaimed and memorable movies through the last decades.
His way of approaching love in his films, allying the plots with his distinctive visual style, and the astonishing art direction of his films make him an artist that without a doubt knows very well how to bring poetry to the screen.
Wong is a filmmaker whose works should be watched again and again, and who truly deserves his name among the directors who make the most poetic films.
Movies by Kar-wai Wong you should watch:
– Days of Being Wild (1990)
– Chungking Express (1994)
– Fallen Angels (1995)
– Happy Together (1997)
– In the Mood For Love (2000)
– 2046 (2004)
8. Alain Resnais
If you have seen “Hiroshima mon Amour” (1959), “Last Year in Marienbad” (1961) or “Muriel” (1963), you know what we’re talking about. Those three masterpieces Alain Resnais made in a row are truly able to show the unique poetical atmosphere he brings to the screen always in collaboration with great writers.
The way Resnais is able to visually explore memory, fantasies and awareness is something really impressive. Sometimes abandoning the intent of advancing the plot in order to deepen our understanding of the characters is something that we are able to see throughout his filmography, from “Hiroshima mon Amour” to his latest film, “Life of Riley” (2014).
With a style that is sometimes called “poetical fiction,” Alain Resnais is known his unique atmosphere, from the great existential screenplays he got from writers such as Marguerite Duras, Jean Gruault, Jules Feiffer and many others, to the superb visuals his movies have in order to compose an exquisite aura. Resnais is a filmmaker who definitely should be considered among the ones who make the most poetic films.
Movies by Alain Resnais you should watch:
– Hiroshima mon Amour (1959)
– Last Year in Marienbad (1961)
– Muriel (1963)
– Smoking/No Smoking (1993)
7. Chantal Akerman
Belgian avant-garde filmmaker Chantal Akerman has poetry so united to her work that it’s quite difficult to put it into words. For example, in the 1970s she was able to explore in four of her best films very different environments and to create very unique atmospheres.
From the life of a lonely widow to a room in a circular panoramic shot, to a hotel and to the life of a Belgian filmmaker living in New York, poetry is definitely a key element in understanding all the subtle nuances that she has in every move (or in every lack of movement), in every scene, or in any line of dialogue (or any silence).
Akerman was an unique artist who definitely deserves to be among the filmmakers who make the most poetic films.
Movies by Chantal Akerman you should watch:
– Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)
– La Chambre (1975)
– Hotel Monterey (1975)
– News From Home (1977)
– The Meetings of Anna (1978)
– No Home Movie (2015)
6. Krzysztof Kieslowski
One of the most influential modern filmmakers, Krzysztof Kieslowski always had humanity as one of the key elements in his filmography.
If you take a look at his short films like “The Office” (1966) and “Talking Heads” (1980); his acclaimed feature films such as “Camera Buff” (1979), “The Double Life of Veronique” (1991) and “Blue” (1993); or even in “Personnel” (1975), his first feature film made for television; it is not difficult to notice the humanistic and existential approach toward the human soul his stories normally have.
Having an unique aura, Kieslowski’s works, if you take a look at their plots, could easily be turned into stories of genres other than drama, but his interest in the human soul always leads the way, making his films as poetical as they could be.
This very particular essence is what makes his filmography so unique. The introspective, meditative soul of the characters portrayed on the screen is normally what is being shown and the most important aspect of Kieslowski’s work. Definitely one of the most poetical filmmakers in history.
Krzysztof Kieslowski works you should watch:
– Camera Buff (1979)
– Talking Heads (1980)
– Dekalog (1988)
– The Double Life of Veronique (1991)
– The Three Colors Trilogy: Blue (1993), White (1994) and Red (1994)