Best directors of the strange and surreal

by abbyfulton | created - 08 Mar 2011 | updated - 08 Mar 2011 | Public

The best directors of bizarre and surreal movies.

1. David Lynch

Writer | Twin Peaks

Born in precisely the kind of small-town American setting so familiar from his films, David Lynch spent his childhood being shunted from one state to another as his research scientist father kept getting relocated. He attended various art schools, married Peggy Lynch and then fathered future ...

2. Stephen Quay

Director | The PianoTuner of EarthQuakes

The identical twin Brothers Quay (the other being Timothy) were born near Philadelphia in a town with a large European immigrant population, which fuelled their interest in European (especially Eastern European) culture. They moved to London in the late 1960s to study at the Royal College of Art ...

3. Timothy Quay

Director | The PianoTuner of EarthQuakes

The identical twin Brothers Quay (the other being Stephen) were born near Philadelphia in a town with a large European immigrant population, which fuelled their interest in European (especially Eastern European) culture. They moved to London in the late 1960s to study at the Royal College of Art ...

4. Alejandro Jodorowsky

Writer | La montaña sagrada

Alejandro Jodorowsky was born in Iquique, Chile on February 7, 1929. In 1942 he moved to Santiago where he attended university, was a circus clown and a puppeteer. In 1955 he went to Paris and studied mime with Marcel Marceau. He worked with Maurice Chevalier there and made a short film, La cravate...

5. Darren Aronofsky

Director | Pi

Darren Aronofsky was born February 12, 1969, in Brooklyn, New York. Growing up, Darren was always artistic: he loved classic movies and, as a teenager, he even spent time doing graffiti art. After high school, Darren went to Harvard University to study film (both live-action and animation). He won ...

6. David Cronenberg

Director | The Fly

David Cronenberg, also known as the King of Venereal Horror or the Baron of Blood, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1943. His father, Milton Cronenberg, was a journalist and editor, and his mother, Esther (Sumberg), was a piano player. After showing an inclination for literature at an early...

7. Michael Lauter

Director | Spectrauma

Award-winning motion picture director Michael Lauter began making short Super8 films at the age of ten and further experimented with image, sound and music throughout his junior high and high school years. In college he studied film and engineering. In 1990 Michael played keyboards in an industrial...

8. Julia Ostertag

Director | Noise & Resistance

Julia Ostertag is a director and editor, known for Noise & Resistance (2011), Dark Circus (2016) and Saila (2008).

9. Guy Maddin

Director | The Saddest Music in the World

Guy Maddin was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, to Herdis Maddin (a hair-dresser) and Charles "Chas" Maddin (grain clerk and general manager of the Maroons, a Winnipeg hockey team). Maddin studied economics at the University of Winnipeg, working as a bank manager, house painter, and photographic...

10. Gaspar Noé

Director | Irréversible

Gaspar Noé was born on December 27, 1963 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a director and producer, known for Irreversible (2002), Enter the Void (2009) and I Stand Alone (1998).

11. Terry Gilliam

Writer | Brazil

Terry Gilliam was born in Minnesota near Medicine Lake. When he was 12 his family moved to Los Angeles where he became a fan of Mad magazine. In his early 20's he was often stopped by the police who often suspected him of being a drug addict and Gilliam had to explain that he worked in advertising....

12. Jan Svankmajer

Director | Otesánek

After studying at the Institute of Industrial Arts and the Marionette Faculty of the Prague Academy of Fine Arts in the 1950s, Jan Svankmajer started working as a theatre director, chiefly in association with the Theatre of Masks and the Black Theatre. He first experimented with film-making after ...

13. Luis Buñuel

Writer | Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie

The father of cinematic Surrealism and one of the most original directors in the history of the film medium, Luis Buñuel was given a strict Jesuit education (which sowed the seeds of his obsession with both religion and subversive behavior), and subsequently moved to Madrid to study at the ...

14. Maya Deren

Director | Meshes of the Afternoon

Maya Deren came to the USA in 1922 as Eleanora Derenkowsky. Together with her father, a psychiatrist, and her mother, an artist, she fled the pogroms against Russian Jews. She studied journalism and political science in at Syracuse University in New York, finishing her BA at NYU in June 1936 and ...

15. Tim Burton

Producer | Edward Scissorhands

Timothy Walter Burton was born in Burbank, California, to Jean Rae (Erickson), who owned a cat-themed gift shop, and William Reed Burton, who worked for the Burbank Park and Recreation Department. He spent most of his childhood as a recluse, drawing cartoons, and watching old movies (he was ...

16. Guillermo del Toro

Writer | El laberinto del fauno

Guillermo del Toro was born October 9, 1964 in Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico. Raised by his Catholic grandmother, del Toro developed an interest in filmmaking in his early teens. Later, he learned about makeup and effects from the legendary Dick Smith (The Exorcist (1973)) and worked on making his ...

17. Nicolas Roeg

Director | Don't Look Now

When he made his directorial debut in 1970, Nicolas Roeg was already a 23-year veteran of the British film industry, starting out in 1947 as an editing apprentice and working his way up to cinematographer twelve years later. He first came to attention as part of the second unit on David Lean's ...

18. Jaromil Jires

Director | Valerie a týden divu

Jaromil Jires was born on December 10, 1935 in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. He was a director and writer, known for Valerie a týden divu (1970), The Joke (1969) and ...a pozdravuji vlastovky (1972). He died on October 26, 2001 in Prague, Czech Republic.

19. Roman Polanski

Actor | Chinatown

Roman Polanski is a Polish film director, producer, writer and actor. Having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the USA, he is considered one of the few truly international filmmakers. Roman Polanski was born in Paris in 1933. His parents returned to Poland from France in 1936, three years ...

20. Alain Resnais

Director | Hiroshima mon amour

Alain Resnais was born on June 3, 1922 in Vannes, Morbihan, France as Alain Pierre Marie Jean Georges Resnais. He was a director and editor, known for Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), Same Old Song (1997) and Mon oncle d'Amérique (1980). He was married to Sabine Azéma and Florence Malraux. He ...



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