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Historical Methods (2007) - Filming Images or Filming Reality: The Life Cycles of Important Movie Directors from D. W. Griffith to Federico Fellini




Why have some movie directors made important films early in their careers but subsequently failed to match their initial successes, whereas other directors have begun much more modestly but have made great movies late in life? The authors demonstrate that the answer lies in the directors' motivations and in the nature of their films. Conceptual directors, who use their films to express ideas or emotions, mature early; thus, such great conceptual innovators as D. W. Griffith, Buster Keaton, Sergei Eisenstein, and Orson Welles made their major contributions early in their careers and declined thereafter. In contrast, experimental directors, whose films present realistic characters in convincing situations, improve their techniques with experience, so that such great experimental innovators as Charlie Chaplin, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, and Akira Kurosawa made their greatest films later in life. Understanding these contrasting approaches to film provides a new systematic understanding of the creative life cycles of individual directors. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]