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Filming Images or Filming Reality: The Life Cycles of Movie Directors from D.W. Griffith to Federico Fellini

53 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2005  

David W. Galenson

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Joshua Kotin

Chicago Review

Date Written: July 2005

Abstract

Why have some movie directors made classic early films, but subsequently failed to match their initial successes, whereas other directors have begun much more modestly, but have made great movies late in their lives? This study demonstrates that the answer lies in the directors' motivations, and in the nature of their films. Conceptual directors, who use their films to express their ideas or emotions, mature early; thus such great conceptual innovators as D. W. Griffith, Sergei Eisenstein, and Orson Welles made their major contributions early in their careers, and declined thereafter. In contrast experimental directors, whose films present convincing characters in realistic circumstances, improve their techniques with experience, so that such great experimental innovators as John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, and Akira Kurosawa made their greatest films late in their lives. Understanding these contrasting life cycles can be part of a more systematic understanding of the development of film, and can resolve previously elusive questions about the creative life cycles of individual filmmakers.

Suggested Citation

Galenson, David W. and Kotin, Joshua, Filming Images or Filming Reality: The Life Cycles of Movie Directors from D.W. Griffith to Federico Fellini (July 2005). NBER Working Paper No. w11486. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=762765

David W. Galenson (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-8191 (Phone)
773-702-8490 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Joshua Kotin

Chicago Review ( email )

1010 E 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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