Have you ever noticed in Spielberg’s movies that there is a strong emphasis on father – son relationship? or a close up shot of the protagonist in Stanley Kubrick’s films? or a trunk shot in Tarantino's films. These are what called Director’s trademarks, which a same aspect can be repeatedly seen in movies directed by a particular director. I first noticed these things in Quentin Tarantino's movies in which a trunk shot appears without fail. Well. When you look close, you can note down more of these aspects. Let me post some more about these trademarks, mainly from three directors, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, and my most favorite Stanley Kubrick.
This American filmmaker is very famous for his powerful unconventional screenplay and distinctive style of filmmaking.
- His movies are famous for trunk shots, which the scene is shot from inside the automobile trunk.
- Mexican standoff (three or more characters pointing gun to each other at same time)
- Usage of aliases for major characters in almost all of his movies. For instance, Black Mamba in Kill Bill, and The Jew Hunter in Inglorious Basterds.
- Fictional brands like Red Apple cigarettes, Big Kahuna burgers
- Featuring one or more scenes in a restaurant (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Inglorious Basterds, Kill Bill)
- Often provides explanations of what audience will see in Chapter form, as in Inglourious Basterds and Pulp Fiction
- His films often will include one long, unbroken shot where a character is followed around somewhere. (Black Mamba intruding O-Ren’s place in Kill Bill)
- Mostly the plot moves forward in non linear and retrospective style (I always wonder about Kill Bill screenplay!!!).
- Often shows a female character with barefoot, or main characters discussing things related to bare foot. (Uma Thurman intro scenes in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, Rosario Dawson in Deathproof)
Stanley Kubrick was one of the most talented and greatest directors who worked for nearly 45 years in cine field. He is well known for great care in whatever subjects he chose, slow method of working but technically achieving perfection, the variety of genres he worked in. He maintained complete artistic control making movies according to his own notions and time constraints. Below are some of the recurring themes in his movies.
- Nearly all of his films contain a beginning voiceover, if not a narration at some point.
- His films often tell about the dark side of human nature, characters often featured as emotionally distant and mellow.
- In his movie he shows the protagonist’s emotional meltdown by a close up shot of the actor with his head slightly tilted down, but eyes looking the camera directly. This is upto me the most fascinating aspect, the signature shot of Kubrick, called the Kubrick Stare. For example, opening scene of Alex in A Clockwork Orange, one of the characters going mad in Full Metal Jacket, Tom Cruise’s paranoid thoughts inside taxi in Eyes Wide Shut. Even HAL-9000, the supercomputer has the glare in 2001: A space odyssey.
- All of Kubrick's films, especially Dr. Strangelove, have elements of satire and black humor in them.
- Almost all his movies feature a pivotal scene that takes place in a bathroom.
- Almost all of his films involve a plan that goes horribly wrong. (Eyes Wide Shut, The Killing, Paths of Glory)
- Uses the first person viewpoint (the character's perspective) at least once in each film, most notably the protagonist's suicide attempt in A Clockwork Orange.
- One can see a tracking shot (the camera following a character) in almost every movie he directed.
Spielberg , one of the most popular and influential directors, is well known for his earlier sci-fi movies, huge box office grossing, and variety of genre, has, like Kubrick, a career span of more than 40 years. In fact, he is a long time friend and collaborator of Kubrick. His sci-fi film A.I’s script was initially developed by Kubrick and Spielberg from 70s till Kubrick’s death in 1999.
- His movies depict father – son relationship, mostly troubled and estranged. Either the protagonists come from a family of divorced parent, absent or irresponsible father, or the protagonist himself is shown as single father, either divorced or widowed. I have seen around 7 or 8 movies directed by him, all of them have it. This is actually a reflection of Steven's childhood where his parent were divorced.
- Usage of powerful flashlights in dark scenes as in Jurassic park, The Lost world, ET, Catch me if you can.
- Music score by John Williams.
- Often shows children in some form of danger, as in Minority Report, Tom Cruise’s son had been kidnapped. Also in Jurassic Park, Schindler's List.
- Important images, or characters, are often seen through the rear-view mirror of a car (Duel, E.T, Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, A.I. Artificial Intelligence).
Looking for these kind of amusing aspects in my other favorite filmmakers too..