American filmmaker Richard Linklater is regarded by many as one of the most influential artistic voices in modern cinema, known for his cult classics such as Slacker as well as extremely popular gems like the universally beloved Before Trilogy. Over time, Linklater has established himself as a humanist whose explorations of love, life and other cosmic mysteries have become an indispensable part of popular culture.
In an interview, Linklater said: “I was so systematic and conscious about what I was doing, since I was making up for lost time. This was ’83 to ’85. It was like my own film school. I’m going to do this editing exercise, then this lighting exercise. I’ll make this short from beginning to end and finish it, but this is what I’m trying to focus on. They were experimental, not narrative, strictly technical.”
While citing the advice of cinematic giant Alfred Hitchcock, Linklater commented: “Hitchcock said that, at first, your directing skills aren’t going to be up with your ideas. I had so many ideas. My thinking was the day I felt technically competent, I’ll start on a bigger work that will express a bigger idea. In ’85, I started on my Super 8 feature.”
When Richard Linklater was asked about the books by filmmakers that he enjoyed reading, the director named writings by a wide range of all-time greats and called them equally influential. However, he focused on three specific books by great directors and recommended that every cinema fan should read them at least once in their lifetimes.
Linklater said: “I think the three best books about cinema by filmmakers are Sculpting in Time by Andrei Tarkovsky, Notes on Cinematography by Robert Bresson and then, in a way, I would say Bergman wrote a couple of memoirs that are great but I read, not that long ago, Elia Kazan’s A Life. Very different, those three books but I would really show films by those three directors and ask you to read those books and go through and find examples, not only in their work but other works they reference.”
Check out the collection of essential books on Richard Linklater’s reading list intended for every film fan out there. These range from philosophical reflections to autobiographical accounts, grounding the art of cinema within intimate frameworks:
Thee essential books for movie lovers:
- Sculpting in Time (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1984)
- Notes on Cinematography (Robert Bresson, 1975)
- Elia Kazan: A Life (Elia Kazan, 1988)
While discussing these particular books, Linklater elaborated: “You could teach a year-long class on not only their films but everything they talk about and their ideas about cinema and what it is. Very different, all three, but very personal. Especially Tarkovsky and Bresson, very much like their films themselves.”
Adding, “Bresson’s are very elliptical, aphoristic, just observations about what cinema can do and Tarkovsky [is] flowing, poetic, lengthy, very beautiful, just about life and art and poetry and cinema. I threw in Kazan there just because I wish I would have read it 20 years before I do, I would have been a better director.”