After the release of his 2019 masterpiece The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers was hailed as one of the most promising filmmakers in recent years. Starting out in the world of theatre, Eggers graduated to the domain of cinema with well-received projects such as The Witch and is currently working on a brand new film called The Northman which is set to come out in 2022.
After the release of The Witch, Eggers was quizzed about some of the formative films that shaped his early years in an interview. He cited pop culture classics such as Star Wars as well as meditative masterpieces by the likes of Andrei Tarkovsky as the cinematic gems that pushed him along his own journey as a filmmaker.
While recalling some of his first memories of cinema, Eggers said: “I remember seeing re-releases of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi in the theatre very young. They had huge impacts on me, particularly the dark aspects. Conan the Barbarian, Star Wars, Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz were my earliest VHS obsessions.”
Although he was moved by Steven Spielberg’s E.T. as well as Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev, there was one special project that made Eggers want to be a director. “Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga was huge for me,” Eggers claimed. “Seeing how all the creatures were made, looking inside Jabba The Hut, all of the maquettes lined up, building the world… ‘This is a job?!’ I was always avidly watching special features and behind the scenes stuff. Of course, I still am”.
Despite that fact, Eggers constructs his own artistic vision of the horror genre by repeatedly watching one particular masterpiece by Stanley Kubrick. While justifying why this film is the one he has repeatedly watched over the years, Eggers commented: “The Shining. I watched it so many times in my early-mid 20s to try and understand how to make a film with sustained tension”.
From his answers, it is clear that Eggers is a true cinephile but there can only be one life-changing film in every person’s life and Eggers clearly knows his. “Nosferatu is a film that I have been obsessed with since elementary school, I was probably 10 when I saw it first,” the director revealed. “When I was 17, I directed and adapted the film into a play, with my friend Ashley Kelly-Tata (who now directs experimental opera)”.
He elaborated on the experience by adding: “It was a silent film on stage – black and white expressionist makeup, costumes, and sets – almost like a ballet set to Schoenberg. This was a senior-directed play, and it was seen by a local theatre impresario and artist, Edouard Langlois, who asked me to bring it to his theatre, The Edwin Booth. Being taken seriously like that – this changed my life.”