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Portraits: End credits

We celebrate historic filmmakers whose incredible influence is still revered by cinephiles today

“The older I get, the more I look at movies as a moving miracle. Audiences are harder to please if you’re just giving them special effects…but they’re easy to please if it’s a good story.” – Steven Spielberg

In the world of cinematography and filmmaking, there are key characters that have influenced art, culture and film. These international artists include Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman, Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine, American genius Stanley Kubrick and British icons Orson Welles and Sir Alfred Hitchcock.

Read on to discover how they weaved their magic with some of the best films in history, from The Birds to Clockwork Orange to an adaptation of E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India.

“The older I get, the more I look at movies as a moving miracle. Audiences are harder to please if you’re just giving them special effects…but they’re easy to please if it’s a good story.” – Steven Spielberg

[Ingmar Bergman]

The Swedish auteur has come to define what we know as European art cinema. Few directors are considered more original, touching on everything from religion and sexual frustration to artistry and mental decline. The family epic Fanny and Alexander, with which he retired from the cinema although he continued to break new ground in theatre and television. 

[Youssef Chahine]

The Egyptian filmmaker was regarded the leading voice of the Arab cinema for more than 50 years. Known for casting a neorealist glance on his society, films such as Cairo Station didn’t add to his popularity. But he made the political personal — and vice versa — in a way many still aspire to.

[Orson Welles]

Welles will be remembered for his very distinctive voice — both literally especially in Shakespeare plays and radio dramas, and through his work as director, best exemplified in 1941’s Citizen Kane. His Best Original Screenplay Oscar for that film  was further cemented by the 1971 Honorary Academy Award “for superlative artistry and versatility in the creation of motion pictures”. What makes his accomplishments even more special is that he was successful in both England and Hollywood. 

[Gordon Parks]

A pioneer of black filmmaking, Parks changed the film landscape forever by creating the “blaxploitation” genre. In addition to making a name for himself telling ordinary people’s stories in film and through photo essays in Life magazine, he will be remembered as the director of the 1971 film Shaft. He holds more than 20 honorary doctorates. 

[Sergio Leone]

Without Leone we wouldn’t have the Spaghetti Western, or even Clint Eastwood, who became a household name through films such as A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. His final film, the crime drama Once Upon a Time in America, was nominated for both Bafta and Golden Globes awards.

[Sir David Lean]

One of the directors contemporary filmmakers often cite as inspiration, Lean perfected the large-scale epic through films including The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. With two Oscar wins and seven nominations, his final film was the adaptation of E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India

[Stanley Kubrick]

A noted perfectionist, Kubrick sets were notoriously controlled and not known to be easy work environments. That said, his exacting standards are exactly what make him one of the greatest pioneers ever, responsible for, among others, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut

[Sir Alfred Hitchcock]

Known as the Master of Suspense, Hitchcock was a pioneer of the psychological thriller, and remains one of the most iconic filmmakers for his distinctive style. Here he poses with a seagull and a raven in a promotional still for his film The Birds.

[Akira Kurosawa]

The filmmaker is credited with introducing Japanese cinema to the West through films like Rashômon, winner of the Golden Lion at the 1952 Venice Film Festival, and Best Director Oscar-winner Ran. Although accused of pandering to Western audiences, Kurosawa had always condemned those who held this belief. 

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