Jane Campion has once again become a vital part of pop culture discourse after her recent return to cinema, following a hiatus that lasted more than a decade. The director of acclaimed gems such as An Angel at My Table and The Piano, Campion has announced herself as a major artistic voice once again with her latest project The Power of the Dog.
Born in New Zealand, Campion studied visual arts during her college years which shaped her own artistic sensibilities. Throughout her career, she has maintained that she is influenced by artists like Frida Kahlo and Joseph Beuys in addition to other filmmakers. Since her very first short film, Campion has been drawing critical attention and acclaim.
In order to understand the creative vision behind The Power of the Dog and some of Campion’s other works, it is important to note the celebrated filmmaker’s taste in cinema. While talking to Criterion, Campion shed some light on this area by citing great masters such as Akira Kurosawa and Federico Fellini among other pioneers.
Talking about Kurosawa’s 1954 magnum opus Seven Samurai, Campion claimed that she loves to revisit the film periodically: “I love it for its balance of humour, drama, and its deep affection for our noble and flawed natures. When I remember the film I smile and enjoy very much the breadth of the characters, all the beautiful courageous, broken and romantic samurai. I too want to be one of those samurai, and I want to make such a strong and kind film.”
Looking back on her formative years, Campion also revealed that her “first deep love in cinema” was none other than Luis Buñuel. According to the director, it was Buñuel who showed her how to look through human hypocrisy. “He is perfectly modern, bold, and clear. I found myself laughing in joy and amazement. He understands human nature while refusing to sentimentalise it,” she declared.
Campion also included Jean-Luc Godard’s bold 1963 masterpiece Contempt in her list, insisting that Godard was ahead of his time. She said: “No one today is as modern as Godard. There has never been a more daring conceptual, chic, and irreverent filmmaker. In Contempt it is not posturing but a fascinating portrait of a marriage unraveling. Funny, chic, beautiful Brigitte Bardot (for god’s sake) and haunting.”
Check out the list below.
Jane Campion’s favourite films:
- Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
- The Night Porter (Liliana Cavani, 1974)
- The Firemen’s Ball (Miloš Forman, 1967)
- That Obscure Object of Desire (Luis Buñuel, 1977)
- Contempt (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963)
- Tokyo Story (Yasujirō Ozu, 1953)
- La strada (Federico Fellini, 1954)
- Scenes from a Marriage (Ingmar Bergman, 1973)
- Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (Hiroshi Inagaki, 1954)
- Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973)
Campion also expressed a deep admiration for the works of Federico Fellini. She said that she finds more beauty in his works as the years pass, echoing the sentiments of many other film fans. In her interview, Campion revealed that she had actually attended Fellini’s funeral in Rome.
“I don’t know why it is, but it is so, a spiritual truth, that both Coleridge and Fellini knew and tell in their respective stories,” Campion mused. “Fellini is the most fluent filmmaker of them all. His shots and storytelling are so at ease and elegant, it’s as if he’s thinking his shots through a camera in his mind and straight onto a screen.”