Brian De Palma

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Brian De Palma (born September 11 1940 in Newark, New Jersey) is an American film director.

De Palma is often cited as a leading member of the Movie Brat generation of film directors, a distinct pedigree who either emerged from film schools or are overtly cine-literate. His contemporaries include Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese, John Milius, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Throught the '70s and early '80s, De Palma worked repeatedly with actors Jennifer Salt, Amy Irving, Nancy Allen (his wife from 1979 to 1983), William Finley, Garrett Graham, cinematographers Stephen H. Burum and Vilmos Zsigmond, set designer Jack Fisk, and composers Bernard Herrmann and Pino Donaggio. De Palma is credited with fostering the careers of or outright discovering Robert De Niro, Jill Clayburgh, John C. Reilly, John Leguizamo, Margot Kidder.

Early efforts Greetings and Hi, Mom espouse a Leftist revolutionary viewpoint common of their era, and experiments in narrative and intertextuality reflect De Palma's stated intention to become the "American Godard." Hi, Mom, in its Be Black, Baby sequence, parodies cinema verite, championed by the documentary movement of the late '60s, while simultaneously providing the audience with as visceral and disturbingly emotional an experience as fiction film can provide, and remains a significant touchstone in interpreting De Palma's filmography.

Following a disastrous Hollywood foray, in which his next film Get to Know Your Rabbit was reedited by Warner Bros., De Palma returned to independent film. Both Blood Sisters and Phantom of the Paradise were tongue-in-cheek experiments in pure cinema, and allowed De Palma to jettison the more dated hippy trappings of his earlier films. Obsession, an emotional alternative take on Vertigo scripted by Paul Schrader, seems less now a bold attempt to usurp Alfred Hitchcock than an extention of the experiment begun on Blood Sisters, using the Hitchcock film as a template to analyze male and female roles and how an audience expects them to be reinforced.

His works explore themes of suspense and obsession, along with gender identity and the destructive nature of the male gaze. He is famous for his extensive use of split screen, split-diopter and process shots, and long tracking shots. His films also frequently feature characters changing their hair colour from blonde to brunette and vice versa.

Critics of De Palma accuse him of being misogynistic and of emphasizing technical aspects of storytelling at the expense of human stories. These views, along with the charge of 'ripping off' various filmmakers, is slowly fading from mainstream critical analysis of De Palma's work, as the complexities of his montage and mise en scene come into focus. Emerging views of De Palma compare him less and less with modernist filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock and more with transgressionists such as Luis Bunuel and Jean-Luc Godard and to traditions ranging from Surrealism, Postmodernism to the theater of the Absurd.


His father, Anthony DePalma, was an orthopedic surgeon and teacher who made a lifelong contribution to the practice of medicine. His oldest brother Bruce De Palma, who passed away in 1997, was a well known figure in the alternative energy community, while Bart De Palma is an artist who contributed photographic mosaics (and a cameo appearance) to Femme Fatale.

DePalma was interested in physics in his youth and won the top prize in his high school's regional science fair. The project was entitled "An Analog Computer to Solve Differential Equations."

An incident involving a stolen motorcycle left De Palma in a New York City jail overnight after a bullet was removed from his leg, courtesy of the NYPD.

He directed Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing In The Dark" music video, and is widely believed to have written the crawl that begins Star Wars.


External links

fr:Brian De Palma pt:Brian de Palma fi:Brian De Palma sv:Brian De Palma


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