Great Viewing

i.e. surprisingly enlarged my understanding of what of a movie can do

Sergei Eisenstein, Strike (1925)
Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
Walt Disney studio, Fantasia (1940)
Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Akira Kurosawa, Kagemusha (1980)
Ron Fricke, Baraka (1992)
The Brothers Quay, Institute Benjamenta (1995)
Peter Greenaway, The Pillow Book (1996)
Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou, Microcosmos (1996)
Garin Nugroho, Opera Jawa (2006)
Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Verena Paravel, Leviathan (2012)
Terrence Malick, Knight of Cups (2015)



Movies are collaborative works. Crucial contributions are made by various designers and technicians in addition to the writers, actors, and directors. That’s why Erwin Panofsky suggested that a movie “is the nearest modern equivalent of a medieval cathedral.” But some critics have claimed that a movie is only likely to achieve major artistic value when it is controlled by a single artistic mind, normally that of the director—or, best of all, the writer-director. The cinematic auteur (French for “author”), whose vision the movie expresses, is the equivalent of the painter or novelist or music composer.

The auteur theory is controversial. Some say it overstates the contribution of the director; some point to great movies that were made without a single director at the helm (The Wizard of Oz, a favorite example, shows the power of the Hollywood studio system in its heyday). I find, though, that the movies I love the most are indeed the works of celebrated directors whose whole body of work interests me, much as I want to see all the pictures by a favorite painter, read all the books by a favorite writer, and so forth.

Here are my very favorite movies/moviemakers, with indications of what else you might want to see by them (most of the main entries are in the Millsaps library):

Charlie Chaplin, City Lights (also: The Gold Rush, Modern Times)
Jean Vigo, L’Atalante (also: Zero for Conduct)
Alfred Hitchcock, Vertigo (also: The 39 Steps, North by Northwest)
Jean Renoir, The Rules of the Game (also: Grand Illusion)
Orson Welles, Citizen Kane (also: The Magnificent Ambersons, Chimes at Midnight)
Federico Fellini, 8 1/2 (also: La Strada, Nights of Cabiria)
Francois Truffaut, The 400 Blows (also: Jules & Jim, Day for Night)
Ingmar Bergman, The Seventh Seal (also: Wild Strawberries, Hour of the Wolf)
Akira Kurosawa, Ran (also: The Seven Samurai, Dersu Uzala)
Lina Wertmuller, Seven Beauties (also: Swept Away)
Terrence Malick, Days of Heaven (also: Badlands, The Tree of Life)
Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove (also: Paths of Glory, Lolita)
Peter Greenaway, The Pillow Book (also: The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover; Drowning by Numbers)
Sally Potter, Orlando (also: Yes, The Party)
Hayao Miyazaki, Howl’s Moving Castle (also: Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke)

and the exception that proves the rule,

The Awful Truth, not so much because of director Leo McCarey (although his contributions are significant) but because of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne (and see the other great “remarriage comedies” The Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday, The Lady Eve, and Adam’s Rib) is a good site for directors’ filmographies, with some evaluation.



Napoleon (Abel Gance, 1927)
Sunrise (F. W. Murnau, 1927)
October (Sergei Eisenstein, 1928)
Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
Gold Diggers of 1933 (Mervyn Leroy, 1933–dance numbers by Busby Berkeley)
It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934)
Children of Paradise (Marcel Carné, 1945)
The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks, 1946)
My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)
The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 1971)
Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, 1992)
The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993)
Fargo (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1996)
Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)
Amores Perros (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2000)
The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)
No Country for Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen, 2007)
Hunger (Steve McQueen, 2008)
The Life of Pi (Ang Lee, 2012)
The Revenant (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2015)
Western (Valeska Griesbach, 2017)
Birds of Passage (Cristina Gallego & Ciro Guerra, 2018)
Parasite (Joon-ho Bong, 2019)