Influential World Filmmakers: Kurosawa to Bergman

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  • 0:58 Akira Kurosawa
  • 1:46 Sergei Eisenstein
  • 2:31 Federico Fellini
  • 3:01 Billy Wilder
  • 3:39 Renoir, Godard
  • 5:03 Ingmar Bergman
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amy Troolin

Amy has MA degrees in History, English, and Theology. She has taught college English and religious education classes and currently works as a freelance writer.

In this lesson, we will meet some famous international filmmakers. We will explore the contributions of directors like Akira Kurosawa, Sergei Eisenstein, Billy Wilder, and Ingmar Bergman.

A World of Stories

The lights go dim. The theater falls silent. You wriggle in your seat in anticipation and prepare to be carried away to places you've never seen. The international film festival is about to begin. You're looking forward to viewing films by master filmmakers, like Akira Kurosawa, Sergei Eisenstein, Federico Fellini, and Jean Renoir. You know that these filmmakers are some of the world's most prominent storytellers. Indeed, international filmmakers are in a unique position to bring their nations, cultures, and heritages before the eyes of the world through their films. The best ones do their job so well that their personal vision, as well as their culture, translates onto the screen, and their work stands the test of time and changes the history of film. In this lesson, we'll meet a few of the great international filmmakers.

Akira Kurosawa

The Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa had a knack for blending Eastern and Western elements in his films. This painter-turned-director created everything from traditional Japanese samurai films, like the epic Seven Samurai and Kagemusha, to comedies like Yojimbo to adaptations of Shakespeare's plays, like Throne of Blood, which is based on Macbeth, and Ran, which is based on King Lear. Kurosawa's technique of using a telephoto lens to achieve creative shots and his use of heroic characters have become a model for other filmmakers. Kurosawa is also known for editing his own films, thereby achieving his desired level of perfection.

Sergei Eisenstein

Russian Sergei Eisenstein only made nine feature films during his career, but those nine often made strong statements about Russian politics. For instance, Eisenstein's 1925 film The Battleship Potemkin explores the psychological and spiritual effects of the Russian Revolution of 1905. The movie October portrays the power shifts of the 1917 revolutions, and Old and New focuses on the push for collectivism in Russian agriculture. Eisenstein was a pioneer in editing his films to create emotional montages designed to inspire particular strong opinions in his viewers.

Federico Fellini

Unlike Eisenstein, who worked with politics and history, Italian Federico Fellini dealt in fantasies, dreams, memories, and desires. His movies were highly stylized, and he emphasized visual elements that captured his surrealistic tendency to explore the human subconscious. Fellini's movies include La Dolce Vita, Nights of Cabiria, and Casanova. His style became so well known that it has been termed 'Felliniesque.'

Billy Wilder

European-born filmmaker Billy Wilder began his career as a journalist but ended up as one of the most productive and flexible directors in Hollywood. Wilder made over 60 films in about 50 years, including such classics as Double Indemnity, Some Like it Hot, The Apartment, Sunset Boulevard, and The Seven Year Itch. Wilder was comfortable working across genres. He had a keen eye for observing human behavior, and his leading characters tended to get themselves into all sorts of mischief that they had to work hard to get themselves out of.

Jean Renoir

French filmmaker Jean Renoir was the son of famous Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and he is famous for bringing his father's artistic techniques to the big screen. Renoir sought to use light, camera angles, and locations to bring a truly human perspective to his work and to explore the relationships between people, society, and surroundings. Renoir's most famous films include Grand Illusion, which is set in a prison camp during World War I, and The Rules of the Game, which satirically explores French high society.

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