Editor’s Note: You probably know Alex Proyas as the director of films like The Crow, Dark City, Garage Days, I Robot and Knowing, but for the next week and a half the filmmaker has agreed to become a guest blogger on /Film. I asked Alex to blog about some of his influences, and you can now read the resulting blog post below.
I was too young to see The Exorcist in its first run at the theaters, but I remember reading the novel and being scared to death. Many years later when I was able to see the film, its impact was no less potent. I love thrillers with a spiritual aspect… simply because it centers around a danger out of human control. Sell the initial concept (brilliantly achieved by BLATTY), and you have the potential to create some of the most thrilling moments possible. Forget about the scary beats and cheap jumps which sustain most modern thrillers and horrors – I like a film that prolongs tension for so long that even a quick scene cut to a girl lying in bed with special effects makeup scares the hell out of you.
Above everything else, I was impressed with Friedkin’s ability to create a mood; an atmosphere so claustrophobic and suffocating, so weighed down by a sense of impending doom, I’ve never been the same since. The more I watched THE EXORCIST, the more I realized how brilliant it was on so many levels: the music, the cinematography and the script married perfectly to stir emotions so strongly that, even hours after watching the film, those feelings would still resonate. I want to make films that resonate that strongly. It’s one aspect of story I look for before signing on to do a project.
As a filmmaker, I am inspired and shaped by stories – stories passed down from generation to generation, told among friends at the pub, read in books, shown in films and imagined in a photograph. There’s a story in everything.
As a kid, I loved just about anything that fed into my imagination of other worlds. I read science fiction books by Ray Bradbury, Arthur Clarke, Harlan Ellison and Robert Heinlein. I’d lie back and envision what their worlds might look like in the hands of some of my favorite and most influential filmmakers like Kubrick, Hitchcock, Lean.
As an adult, I still love science fiction. I think it is one of the most under-estimated of genres and I’m surprised there aren’t more filmmakers flying the flag. Have you ever read The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester or High Rise by JG Ballard? They are cool. Can you even imagine how those stories would look if made into movies today with all of our available technology? I’ll tell you: cool.
Actually, come to think of it, I’m glad there is only a small select group of directors who celebrate this genre, because at least we love it enough to give it justice. The last thing I’d want to see is some lame musical version of A Clockwork Orange.