When it comes right down to it, the director of a movie is often the single point that can make or break a film. The director must bring together all the elements of the film, including actors, script, and filmography in order to tell a story. Often, these stories end up having a signature, flair, or style that ends up being part of the director’s identity as a maker of movies. While Robert Zemeckis has not made many films, the ones that he does make tend to be cult classics. Most people know Robert Zemeckis through the Back to the Future trilogy, but the two most critically acclaimed movies he has directed are the following:
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Length: 104 minutes / 1.73 hours
Today’s films are so infused with the addition of CGI that a film like this sometimes isn’t given a second thought. And yet, for 1988, this film was absolutely groundbreaking. When you consider what has to go into infusing animated characters into a live-action movie, you start to realize just how much we take computers for granted. This, of course, did not go unnoticed by the Academy Awards, which awarded this film three Oscars, all having to do with the processes needed to make Los Angeles look like it was overrun by cartoons (Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing).
When you consider many of Robert Zemeckis’ other films, you can see that he has been on the forefront of many visual advancements for film. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is really where you begin to see his penchant for special effect start to take off. Following with two more Back to the Future movies, the visual effects start to get more extraordinary. Death Becomes Her showed what a bit of creative green-screen effects could do, and by the time the new millennium rolled around, Robert Zemeckis’ films started to show how motion capture technology could fully utilize the power of computers (see The Polar Express, Beowulf, A Christmas Carol).
Length: 142 minutes / 2.37 hours
Often when a film wins Best Picture, the director of said film also wins Best Director, and Forrest Gump is no exception. Just like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump also won Oscars for Best Visual Effects and Best Film Editing, which comes as no surprise considering the film’s infusion of Tom Hanks (who won Best Actor for his role as Forrest Gump) into famous scenes in history, as well as the removal of Gary Sinise’s legs.
The 6th Oscar for this film was for its screenplay, which follows Forrest Gump (Hanks) through many of the major historical milestones of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Gump hasn’t been dealt the best hand in life, but he certainly doesn’t let that get him down. His endless optimism and naivete allows him to accomplish almost anything, including ping pong, shrimp boating, cross country running (literally), and (eventually) getting the girl, his childhood friend Jenny (Robin Wright). The famous line, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get,” pretty much sums up this movie.
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 works of a special effects director