Theodoros Angelopoulos's considerable achievements in cinema during the 1970s and 1980s have made him not only the most important Greek filmmaker to date, but one of the truly creative and original artists of his time. In 1970 he convinced producer George Papalios to finance his first film, Anaparastassi. The story follows the pattern of a crime tale ? la James Cain. A Greek peasant is killed by his wife and her lover on his return from Germany, where he had gone to find work.
Alexandre Astruc was the embodiment of the revolutionary hopes of a renewed cinema after the war. True, Clement, Bresson, and Melville were already making films in a new way, but making them in the age-old industry. Astruc represented a new, arrogant sensibility. He had grown up on the ideas of Sartre and was one of the youthful literati surrounding the philosopher in the St. Germain-des-Pr?s cafes. There he talked of a new French culture being born, one that demanded new representations in fiction and film.
"Film making is the process of turning money into light and then back into money again." John Boorman's neat epigram will probably haunt him for the rest of his filmmaking days, not simply because it is so tidy a formulation, but because the tensions it articulates have played such a prominent part in his own career.
Robert Bresson began and quickly gave up a career as a painter, turning to cinema in 1934. The short film he made that year, Affaires publiques, is never shown. His next work, Les Anges du p?ch?, was his first feature film, followed by Les Dames du Bois du Boulogne and Journal d'un cur? de campagne, which firmly established his reputation as one of the world's most rigorous and demanding filmmakers.
In 1992, after almost forty years in the business, Clint Eastwood finally received Oscar recognition. Unforgiven brought him the awards for Best Achievement in Directing and for Best Picture, along with a nomination for Best Actor. Indeed, this strikingly powerful Western was nominated for no less than nine Academy Awards, Gene Hackman collecting Best Supporting Actor for his performance as the movie''s ruthless marshall, ?Little Bill? Daggett, and Joel Cox taking the Oscar for editing.
Franju's career falls clearly into two parts, marked by the format of the films: the early period of documentary shorts, and a subsequent period of fictional features. The parts are connected by many links of theme, imagery, attitude, and iconography. Critical attention has focused primarily on the shorts, and there is some justice in this.
Abel Gance's career as a director was long and flamboyant. He wrote his first scripts in 1909, turning to directing a couple of years later, and made his last feature, Cyrano et d'Artagnan, in 1964. As late as 1971 he re-edited a four-hour version of his Napoleon footage to make Bonaparte et la r?volution, and he lived long enough to see his work again reach wide audiences.
In a career spanning just over fifty years (1925-76), Hitchcock completed fifty-three feature films, twenty-three in the British period, thirty in the American. Through the early British films we can trace the evolution of his professional/artistic image, the development of both the Hitchcock style and the Hitchcock thematic. His third film (and first big commercial success), The Lodger, was crucial in establishing him as a maker of thrillers, but it was not until the mid-1950s that his name became consistently identified with that genre.
There is a trajectory that emerges from the shape of David Lean's career, and it is a misleading one. Lean first achieved fame as a director of seemingly intimate films, closely based on plays of Noel Coward. His first directorial credit was shared with Coward, for In Which We Serve. In the 1960s he was responsible for extraordinarily ambitious projects, for an epic cinema of grandiose effects, difficult location shooting, and high cultural, even literary, pretention. But, in fact, Lean's essential approach to the movies never changed.
Joseph Losey's career spanned five decades and included work in both theater and film. Latterly an American expatriate living in Europe, the early years of his life as a director were spent in the very different milieus of New Deal political theater projects and the paranoia of the Hollywood studio system during the McCarthy era. He was blacklisted in 1951 and left America for England where he continued making films, at first under a variety of pseudonyms.
The career of Jean-Pierre Melville is one of the most independent in modern French cinema. The tone was set with his first feature film, Le Silence de la mer, made quite outside the confines of the French film industry. Without union recognition or even the rights to the novel by Vercors which he was adapting, Melville proceeded to make a film which, in its counterpointing of images and a spoken text, set the pattern for a whole area of French literary filmmaking extending from Bresson and Resnais down to Duras in the 1980s.
Jacques Tati's father was disappointed that his son didn't enter the family business, the restoration and framing of old paintings. In Jacques Tati's films, however, the art of framing?of selecting borders and playing on the limits of the image?achieved new expressive heights. Instead of restoring old paintings, Tati restored the art of visual comedy, bringing out a new density and brilliance of detail, a new clarity of composition.
Agn?s Varda?s startlingly individualistic films have earned her the title ?grandmother of the New Wave? of French filmmaking. Her statement that a filmmaker must exercise as much freedom as a novelist became a mandate for New Wave directors, especially Chris Marker and Alain Resnais. Varda?s first film, La Pointe courte, edited by Resnais, is regarded, as Georges Sadoul affirms, as "the first film of the French nouvelle vuage. Its interplay between conscience, emotions, and the real world make it a direct antecedent of Hiroshima, mon amour"
In 1928 Fred Zinnemann worked as assistant to cinematographer Eugene Sch?fftan on Robert Siodmak's Menschen am Sonntag (People on Sunday), along with Edgar Ulmer and Billy Wilder, who wrote the scenario for this semi-documentary silent feature made in the tradition of Flaherty and Vertov.