American filmmaker Robert Zemeckis has directed some of the most memorable additions to popular culture, ranging from the delightfully whimsical sci-fi series Back to the Future to other beloved classics such as Forrest Gump. The director is well known for his incredible versatility and his impeccable ability to conduct fantastic treatments of widely differing genres.
Recently, Zemeckis came out with the 2020 fantasy comedy The Witches which was based on a script that had been co-written by none other than Guillermo del Toro. However, the picture was dismissed by critics as an inferior project compared to some of Zemeckis’ earlier works. That said, the disappointment hasn’t slowed down Zemeckis, who has now moved on to yet another project, a new interpretation of Pinocchio which is supposed to come out next year.
Born in Chicago, Zemeckis discovered his love for making films when he played around with his parents’ home movie camera. However, he realised that he wanted to go to film school only when he saw Arthur Penn’s pioneering American New Wave masterpiece Bonnie and Clyde which changed the rules of the game forever.
Although the idea of attending film school was discouraged by his parents, who reminded him that becoming a director was a distance dream from someone belonging to their socioeconomic stratum, Zemeckis never gave up. He even convinced USC to accept him into its film school by promising to study harder even after he had already been rejected due to his poor grades.
While attending classes there, Zemeckis soon realised that most of the students in the program were hippies who possessed a “veneer of intellectualism” and looked down upon big Hollywood films. Those were the kind of movies that Zemeckis wanted to make and luckily, he found a mentor in Steven Spielberg.
According to Zemeckis, he fell in love with the world of movies because he realised that nothing compares to the experience of going on an emotional journey into other worlds with well-written characters. Throughout his own filmmaking career, Zemeckis tried to replicate that and often succeeded with great efficiency.
When asked about some of the cinematic masterpieces that influenced him the most, Zemeckis immediately replied: “I love The Godfather, I love It’s a Wonderful Life, [I watch it] every Christmas. I love Doctor Strangelove.” He added that he can never put down any film made by Stanley Kubrick and loved the works of Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese as well.
Robert Zemeckis’ three favourite films:
- The Godfather – Francis Ford Coppola, 1972
- It’s a Wonderful Life – Frank Capra, 1946
- Doctor Strangelove – Stanley Kubrick, 1964