The job of a film director is multifaceted. On the one hand, she's responsible for researching and planning the many ways in which a script can be translated to the screen, and she'll therefore have lots of ideas about camera angles, visual design, locations and set design, actors and action, lighting design, and pacing. 

Once on set, after a lot of those choices have already been set in stone, the director is more necessary than ever, as she must be present everyday to make sure those pre-production plans are properly executed. The director also needs to work directly with the actors, making sure they hit their marks and deliver their performances in a believable and appropriate way. 

After all the production is thru, and the film crew has gone home, the director's job of making the film really begins: in the editing room. In other words, a director has to have a vision for the story and then see that this vision is executed as closely as possible from start to finish. 

It’s no wonder that directors get all the credit! 

The Reading 

Begin by reading about" The Director’s Style" (Chapter 11) in The Art of Watching Films (310 – 329).

The Watching – Three Films by One Director

For this module, you are going to research the work of one director in an attempt to analyze the evolution of her directing style. I have chosen Kathryn Bigelow for the director we will analyze, as she is one of the few female directors in Hollywood who has really made a wide range of important films over a long span of time. In 2009, she became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director and the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing for The Hurt Locker (2008). 

Bigelow has been steadily making films since the early 80s, an average of one every 5-7 years or so. This should give us a pretty good opportunity to analyze her style over a long period of time. For this module you are going to choose at least three movies by Bigelow, out of a total of six I have provided you on my Plex server. 

For example, you could start by watching the weird biker film The Loveless (1981), starring Willem Dafoe; then go on to my personal favorite, 1991’s Point Break, starring Keanu Reeves; and finish with 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty, an incredible film about the 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden. This would give you an over thirty year glimpse into one director’s style, and see just how much her style has evolved. 

On the other hand, you could watch the teenage vampire film Near Dark (1987), Point Break (1991), and the underrated sci-fi Strange Days (1995), and thereby get a very tight representation of her style in those weird days just before and after the end of the Cold War and the birth of the Internet. Such good times…

Or you could just watch Point Break (1991) three times in a row, and then you’d be me in high school…jk.

Here are the Kathryn Bigelow films I have placed on my server for you:

  • The Loveless (1981)
  • Near Dark (1987)
  • Point Break (1991)
  • Strange Days (1995)
  • The Hurt Locker (2008)
  • Zero Dark Thirty (2012) 

The Questions

Once you’ve watched these three films, answering the following questions: