Bob Rafelson, the pioneering filmmaker from the New Hollywood era and one of the creators of The Monkees, passed away at 89.
Born in New York City, Rafelson studied philosophy at Dartmouth, which influenced his artistic sensibilities to a great extent. However, the most significant transformation occurred when he was drafted into the military and was stationed in Japan, where he was introduced to the beauty of Japanese cinema – especially the films of Yasujirō Ozu.
While reflecting on his formative years, Rafelson once said in an interview: “Strangely, the one theatre that I attended regularly was a foreign film theatre called La Thalia. When I was ten or eleven years old, I spent more time looking at European films than at John Ford films. We’re talking the ’40s. So, in some weird way, I learned as much from foreign films as I learned from American films. Maybe more.”
Starting out as a story editor for television series, Rafelson eventually moved to Hollywood, where he got the opportunity to work with big production companies. Along with Bert Schneider, he also created The Monkees, which was influenced by the Beatles and Rafelson’s experiences with a band in Mexico.
Rafelson’s legacy will never be forgotten by film fans who revere his work on iconic projects such as Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces, among many others.