Trademark Styles of Hollywood Filmmakers – Part 1 has been edited by Aashna Kanuga.
Almost all of us watch a lot of movies. And it is worth noting, that Hollywood has provided us with some great ones since its inception. There have been legendary actors and actresses, whose stunning performances have made these movies a huge success. There have been great script writers, who have given us the most amazing concepts, and new stories every time. But according to me, what the essence of a movie is, and how well it does is ultimately defined by its filmmakers. If, like me, you go through movies by the dozen, you may have noticed that a particular filmmaker has some common element in his films. Each filmmaker has their own signature style or has a typical set of actions that makes their movie unique. In this article, I talk about the trademark styles that some of the greatest filmmakers of this era follow in their movies.
Therefore, in this article I am going to fanboy over such few great filmmakers of the West.
If you are a Quentin Tarantino fan, I am sure you know that all his movies, ranging from ‘Reservoir Dogs’ to ‘The Hateful Eight’ are interlinked. Tarantino’s style of writing is very typical. When one is watching his movies, it is like reading a book, fragmented into various chapters. There are gangsters in their tidy black suits, mob bosses with a cocky attitude, pop culture references, and more gangsters. Be it guns, swords or any other weaponry, the violence is immense. A lot of blood is shed, and bodies drop left right and center. The set is always gory. He has a fetish for feet scenes. Trunk shots (shots taken from the back of a car trunk) are, of course, especially relevant. The cameo of the master himself adds to the uniqueness of the movie!
Moving on to the legendary Steven Spielberg, all his movies have a dominating and an almost always lovable protagonist, like in ‘Indiana Jones’, ‘Schindler’s list’, or more recently, ‘Lincoln’. Furthermore, he likes to tell stories through emotion. His trademark style is the “Spielberg Face”, where he takes a close up of the lead actor’s face in order to better showcase their emotions.
Talking about the prolific Martin Scorsese, his movies have an excessive use of slow motion shots. There are long tracking shots. Most of his movies, including ‘Gangs of New York’, ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Goodfellas’, revolve around New York city. Guilt is a very common theme in his movies and is definitely a guilty pleasure for the mellow heartened.
If you’re a Sci-Fi fan, then it is a given that you find J.J Abrams extremely delightful. Abrams has a special love affair with lens flares. Since most of his movies pertain to the future, this actually makes sense. From a cinematographic point of view, it is a spectacle. Abrams made the legendary Captain Spock and the mighty Captain Kirk a lot more fantastic with the last two ‘Star Trek’ movies. I am particularly excited for the new movie.
Christened with the nickname “Bayhem”, Michael Bay is probably the most hated movie maker on the internet. And with a good reason. His movies contain three things. Explosions, explosions and a lot more of explosions. His movies have often being termed as loud, dumb and overblown, he literally blows shit up. ‘Bad Boys’ perhaps, was one of his more enjoyable movies. Sure, we all liked the ‘Transformers’ franchise. But with ‘Age of Extinction’ Mr. Bay blew it up again.
Let’s hop on from the most hated, to the most celebrated.
Christopher Nolan is one of the most revered filmmakers. He has his own trademark style of movie making. All of his concepts are always outside the box. However, they are not in chronological order. The first example that comes to mind is, the first scene in ‘The Prestige’ is actually the last one. Sometimes, it might be difficult to discern if a character is the hero or the anti-hero. The most famous or rather infamous example is, Harvey Dent in ‘The Dark Knight’, Leonard in ‘Memento’, Mr. Saito in Inception or both the lead actors in ‘The Prestige’. Nolan movies are thus, quite an exercise for the brain.
David Fincher is known for his suspense thrillers. He likes to play with the dark. His movies have a lot of scenes with the characters in silhouettes, in order to hide their identity. Most of his movies have household scenes, of a fridge to be precise. His films also have a color theme. For example, ‘Fight Club’ is black and blue. In ‘Zodiac’, the colors are black and yellow. With the likes of ‘Fight Club’ and ‘Se7en’ in his list, Fincher likes to push boundaries and does not mind being edgy. If you’re planning to watch a Fincher movie, don’t be too surprised if it does not have a happy ending.
Since DCEU handed their movies ‘Man of Steel’, ‘Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice’, ‘The Justice League’ over to Zack Snyder, he has been in the spotlight. Snyder’s fight scenes are, without a doubt, epic. What makes them even better is the very fast and then suddenly slowed down shots, like the ones in ‘300’ and ‘Watchmen’. However, many people criticize Snyder for the over-usage of darkness. There is so much hate amongst the comic-geeks that they have started calling it the ‘Snyder Filter’. Or maybe it is just Marvel fans trying to vex the DC fanboys. Whatever it may be, Snyder is truly a master of shooting great fight scenes with brilliant precision and technique.
And in case, you noticed some other trademarks style of any of the filmmakers spoken about above, do let us and rest of the awesome readers know!
To read Trademark Styles of Hollywood Filmmakers – Part 2, click here