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Greatest Movie Directors Of All Time

Renuka Savant
That a film director's job certainly isn't a cakewalk is common knowledge. He's the one who is in charge on the sets, and in charge of the movie's fate as well. It might sound daunting to most, and it actually is, but here's a list of people who made it all look so very easy...
When put in simple words, a movie director's job is to direct the actors and the technical crew in all the aspects of creating a film. They have to translate a worded script into a story, which effectively manages to keep the viewer spellbound long after the popcorn's gone soggy.
And yet, there was a time when a director was just another inconspicuous fellow on the sets who just monitored everyone's work, took his little paycheck, and went home. Artistic controls were never vested in the director's hands; that was more or less handled by the studio honchos and of course, the movie stars.
Things changed for better, and a new wave of creativity took over, wherein the director's job was certainly not limited to massaging the star actor's ego. The concept and storyline took over star influence, and the director began to wield the baton in the true sense. Movies were no longer just about Cary Grant's smile or Marilyn Monroe's wispy skirt; the director had become a major draw at the box office, much to the delight of the regular movie-goer.
As difficult as it is to compile a comprehensive list of the greatest movie directors of all time, with 'greatest' being the bone of contention here, subjectivity/objectivity and all that, this is just a list of people who have largely impressed many with their body of work. Going further, this compilation is not ranked, since all the personalities mentioned below have a style too unique to compete with each other.

Francis Ford Coppola

As a member of the New Hollywood gang that revolutionized the craft of filmmaking, Francis Ford Coppola is best remembered for the Godfather Series and the Vietnam War epic, Apocalypse Now. Interestingly, Coppola remained reluctant to helm The Godfather, as he was unwilling to disparage his Sicilian heritage by making a Mafia themed movie.
His decision to cast Marlon Brando in the lead also met with fierce opposition from the studio bosses. Good sense prevailed, and The Godfather went on to become one of the most memorable movies ever.
Coppola's detractors may point out the downward curve on his creativity graph post the seventies, but try as one might, no one can possibly replicate this visionary's work.

Sir Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock is, without a shred of doubt, the father of the suspense-thriller genre in Hollywood. His signature camera move was to utilize it in a manner that the viewer would be compelled to see the scene through the eyes of the character.
His blonde leading ladies used to be demure and pretty, with complexly layered characters. He confessed to have been deeply involved with the script during its creation stage, never turning to refer to it while the actual shooting and choosing to rely entirely on his visual interpretation instead.
As a result, his films were perfected on the storyboard, and he rarely felt the need to oversee proceedings through a viewfinder. His films took us on a voyeuristic trip through dreams and darkness, unraveling the mysteries of human nature. Psycho, Vertigo, Sabotage, Dial M For Murder and all of his other films continue to entertain and inspire.

Akira Kurosawa

As a director who was primarily an artist, Akira Kurosawa's storyboards were as painstakingly vivid as his movies. Kurosawa's Rashomon, which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, made western audiences stand up and take notice of Japanese cinema.
His Shakespearean influence was showcased in Throne of Blood (Macbeth) and Ran (King Lear), whereas his films influenced several Hollywood epics down the line, The Seven Samurai was made as The Magnificent Seven and The Hidden Fortress became George Lucas' inspiration for Star Wars.
His perfectionist attitude gained notoriety as he made his actors 'live' their characters even beyond the actual shot, throughout the duration of the filming. Kurosawa's editing skills were legendary, and most of his contemporaries credited the fluidity of his storytelling solely to the master director's editing.

Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese's stronghold is New York's Mean Streets, with a heavy dash of crime, graphic violence and revenge, with a distinct Italian-American influence. He depicted a sense of realism in his cinema, without actually glorifying gore...well mostly, at least.
Scorsese's slow motion techniques and his master tracking shot sequences have made for the most stunning visuals in cinematic history. Raging Bull, Gangs of New York, Goodfellas have become templates for upcoming directors to look up to, and more importantly, match up to.

Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick's repertoire boasts of sci-fi, horror, dark humor and war, with overwhelmingly risqué themes. He resorted to symbolism in most of his movies, with a heavy emphasis on cinematography and gave us some stunning big screen visuals, as was evident in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
This maverick director had the rare privilege of being allowed to flex his creative muscles without branching out an indie filmmaker, The Shining being an excellent example of that. His actors complained about the endless number of retakes, but appreciated the performance he milked out of them.
He courted controversy with films like Lolita, A Clockwork Orange and Paths of Glory, but these are now seen as classics.

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg is a huge draw at the box office, with a popularity that can rival any movie star in the business today. The magician that he is, Spielberg is one of the world's most revered filmmakers today.
As the creator of classics like Schindler's List, Jurassic Park, E.T., Indiana Jones series, Jaws, Saving Private Ryan, no one can surpass his hold over the audience. His critics accuse him of being melodramatic and over the top, but the fact remains that his movies strike a chord with the audience, and set the cash registers ringing.

Woody Allen

Speaking of influential directors involves reviewing movies full of crime, hate, gore and bloodshed, so when Woody Allen walks into this list, its something like a breath of freshness. This comic genius has given us Annie Hall, Hannah and her Sisters and Midnight in Paris, movies which were endearingly lighthearted.
His movies constantly include characters who elicit sympathy and laughter in equal measure, as they set out on a journey of self-discovery. The strength of Allen's scripts are the self-deprecating dialogs, so typical of him. Star power has never fazed Allan, who always films on a tight budget.
Thankfully, awards and honors do not interest him, which results in creativity that is refreshingly original.

Quentin Tarantino

Quirky is what describes Quentin Tarantino best, and he can be credited for single-handedly bringing in an element of style into modern-day cinema. His first film, Reservoir Dogs was kitschy take on a group of thugs, and is heralded as an indie masterpiece.
Non-linear storytelling is Tarantino's hallmark, something that few others can replicate with equal finesse. Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds and Kill Bill have cemented his position as a director to watch out for.
Film direction is tricky business, and it takes quite a lot to get on top of the game. While the directors featured above have left their indelible mark on the world of cinema, there are many others who are as accomplished, if not more.
  • Orson Welles
  • John Ford
  • Ingmar Bergman
  • Frank Capra
  • Frederico Fellini
  • Jean Renoir
  • Satyajit Ray
  • Roman Polanski
  • Coen Brothers
  • David Fincher
  • Billy Wilder
  • James Cameron
  • Ang Lee
  • Peter Jackson
  • Pedro Almodovar
  • George Lucas
  • Sergio Leone
  • Clint Eastwood
  • John Lasseter
  • Christopher Nolan
Movie directors have come a long way from being organizers-in-chief to just plain chiefs on a movie set. Whether this change reflects positively or negatively is something that depends on several things.
Movie makers have come a long way from being ego masseurs to their stars. They hold the creative reigns and quite literally, call the shots on a movie set. In the years to come, we'll have a lot to watch out for all thanks to these crafty masters.