Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Director's Early-Early Work: Kubrick, Nolan, Scorsese and Spielberg

On Wednesday, December 14th at 8:00 pm (ET) TCM will broadcast one of Stanley Kubrick's earliest directorial attempts - Fear and Desire (see above). Movie critic and historian Leonard Matlin (who is featured in These Amazing Shadows) says of Fear and Desire: "Kubrick's elusive, shoestring-budget feature-film debut is an existential antiwar allegory centering on four GIs (including a very green Mazursky, in his film debut) stranded behind the lines of an unknown enemy and fighting a fictitious war in an unidentified country. Long suppressed by Kubrick himself--who also photographed, edited, and cowrote with poet/playwright Howard Sackler--the movie contains some striking imagery and shows the germs of budding talent, but generally comes off as an arty and pretentious student film."

This got us thinking about other directors early work. We often think of directors appearing as full formed geniuses/auteur/dictators, but often what you find in their early work is a clunky style that only remotely suggests their future potential. Thank goodness they find ways as young directors to experiment and evolve without crashing and burning in the public eye (although strangely that sometimes happens in the middle of their careers: Spielberg 1941, Bogdanovich At Long Last Love, Scorsese New York, New York).

Christopher Nolan: Doodlebug (1997)
A man waits patiently in his apartment to squash a bug, but he could be hurting himself more than he realizes.

Martin Scorsese: It's Not Just You, Murray! (1963)
Now middle-aged, mobster Murray looks back at his humble beginnings as a bootlegger and his rise to becoming wealthy and highly influential.

Steven Spielberg: Firelight (1964)
Menacing UFOs attack citizens of a town. 
NOTE: Be patient with this video - it is very rough. If you stick with it you'll see some familiar images from his future movies.

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