The Greatest Director(s) of all Time
while ago I mentioned Empire Magazine's poll to find the greatest
directors of all time, and that Peter Jackson had made it into the top
20. To put this into perspective, George Lucas did not make the top 20,
coming in at only 31st, showing how much fans rated the Lord of The
Rings trilogy as better than the new Star Wars trilogy. Remember people
are fickle, and Star Wars is out right now and LOTR is gone two years,
but Jackson still beat Lucas by more than ten places.
Other great directors who did not make it to the last group were
Francois Truffaut, Fritz Lang and Ingmar Bergman although Sir David
Lean still makes it to the top ten, as does John Ford and Alfred
Who was number one? Steven Spielberg. I thought a director who could
make ET and also Schindlers List deserved it, but the entire poll was
greeted by howls of derision by the press. To which we can only quote
Cecil B De Mille;
'the people are always right....'
Well, that is it, isn't it? film is the ultimate popular art. We can
talk about film critics, but it is the audience who make a director.
Spielberg cut his teeth (literally) with Jaws, and we all went to see
it and lapped it up.
That the audience voted Peter Jackson into this select group on the
strength of his cinematic version of Tolkien's classic shows that he
has brought The Lord of The Rings not only to more people, but to
different people; people who may read but might not read first.
In other words, Jackson has brought Tolkien to a new era, making
legends of Frodo, Legolas and Gimli among people who might never have
read the book, and might never still.
Here is what Empire says of Jackson in its description of the director;
''before making the biggest trilogy of all time (hello, George Lucas?)
there was little awareness that this rotund Kiwi possessed the ability
to adapt these supposedly unfilmable books in a way that would be so
resoundingly lauded, both by critics and fans.. '
Empire pays dues to Jackson's work in pioneering special effects, but
'..none of Jackson's films are remembered for effects, because effects
are not the focus. More than any filmmaker he has managed to use CGI to
tell stories...always keeping character front and centre. In The Lord
of The Rings the battles rage round a nucleus of finely-tuned
characters. (Jackson writes as vividly as he shoots...)
Where George Lucas whose lead Jackson seems to be following in terms of
independence from Hollywood, used his digital mastery to create
photo-realistic worlds without believable human inhabitants, Jackson
breeds characters first and then erects a magisterial setting. An
intelligent treatment of material, coupled with the ability to play to
the crowd has won him universal respect. How many other directors could
announce that they are making King Kiong and be greeted with cheers
rather than howls of derision?...He's fearless and the good news is he
is barely started....'
I liked this article, because this is assessment of Jackson not as an
interpreter, but primarily as a director. For like it or not, the films
will stand on their own from now on as well as standing as adaptations
of a book, much as we love the book.
And the eerie thing is, placed among so many great directors, you begin
to see cinematic truths about Tolkien's work; the statement that the
relationship between mentor and pupil is central to films of Tarantino
reminds us that it is for Jackson too, as Gandalf guides, loses and
finds again his charge Frodo.
Stanley Kubrick said; 'if it can be written, or thought, it can be
filmed..' which reminds us how really stupid and arrogant it was to say
LOTR was 'unfilmable'
When the films were over, how we felt loss! Well, Sam Peckinpah thought
so too; he said;
'the end of a film is an end of a life'
And Akira Kurosawa;
'With a good script, a good director can produce a masterpiece...'
And what better script than one based on Tolkien's writings?
Thanks, all, and thanks, Peter Jackson and Empire.
Response from dphantomrose:
The truth of the matter is that in this work you can appreciate not
only Tolkien's work but PJ's passion towards it. As he said in his
speech of acceptance at the Oscars, in these films on can see deep
beyond the wizards, hobbits, elves and magic rings and can fall in love
not only with the characters but also with the substance in the themes
that are embedded in these great books and carried over in to the