Directors Talk Film Faves
4.) Fantasia: Specifically, the "Night on Bald Mountain" and "Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequences. I saw these first when I was really young, on a Disney Halloween special on television, then subsequently at the movie theater in a re-release in the late '60s or early '70s. Walt Disney always had a dark side to him and these two sequences show two flavors of that. In "Night on Bald Mountain," the demon Chernabog (I always assumed he was Satan himself), animated by Bill Tytla in a world designed by Kay Nielsen, may be the greatest piece of truly terrifying animation ever created and the visuals are a perfect marriage to the music by Mussorgsky. "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" sequence, animated to Paul Dukas' music, showed the more playful side of Disney's darkness, with Mickey Mouse getting into trouble with his master's wand while left alone to clean up. This was inspiring to me on many levels, perhaps the most basic being I identified with Mickey -- who doesn't dream of controlling the stars and planets and the crashing ocean with a little magical help?
5.) The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: I saw this amazing film in San Francisco when it was first released in 1988. Terry Gilliam is one of the greatest, most inventive visual storytellers of all time, with many of his films -- Time Bandits, The Fisher King, Brazil and 12 Monkeys -- among my all-time favorites. His work is a varying blend of his Monty Python roots with his own gifts for spectacular invention with his brand of truth, weight, dark and light. Munchausen is such an influence on my own work that I created an homage to his "Birth of Venus" scene with Oliver Reed and a very young Uma Thurman in my own recent film, Coraline.
Also, you must include these additional foreign film favorites -- I'm breaking the rules here, but no way can I not list several of my favorites from abroad: Kurosawa's version of King Lear, Ran; Fanny and Alexander by Bergman; Juliet of the Spirits and 8 1/2 by Fellini; Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away -- all profoundly great movies and very influential in my own work.
And a few more American films that have stayed with me always: Polanski's Chinatown; Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven; Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove and Lolita; Brad Bird's The Iron Giant; and John Lasseter's Toy Story.
1.) Rosemary's Baby for its shots and blocking and perfect script.
2.) Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which is also my father's favorite movie.
3.) Le Roman de Renard, which inspired our animation for Fantastic Mr. Fox.
4.) Watership Down, which was my favorite film as a child.
5.) Rear Window, which made me want to be a director.