Director, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, composer and musician – a 360 degrees artist made in Texas, USA. This week ÉCU is focusing on a big master of pulp filmmaking tradition, a b-movie lover, a creative man that still inspires the whole indie film world: Robert Rodríguez.
He was rejected by film schools but his passion for cinema was too big to stop doing what he liked so much: so he went ahead and taught himself how to direct and edit films. He developed a personal ideal of filmmaking and gained a complete knowledge of the whole film productive process that eventually brought him great success.
In 1993 Rodríguez won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival with his first feature film “El Mariachi”, a low budget film that cost only $7,000; he managed to overcome all the difficulties that a no–budget film can reveal with his creative ability, as he didn’t even hire any film crew. His total competence in filmmaking allowed him to shoot with only one camera, without a dolly track, without costumes and almost without real actors.
Distributed by Columbia Pictures, “El Mariachi” was the first film of the Mexico Trilogy, followed by “Desperado” (1995) and ”Once upon a Time in Mexico”(2003), a sort of tribute to Sergio Leone’s western films.
Spaghetti western references are a permanent feature in all his works, even if they are always mixed with trash elements, that recall the Italian b-movie generation, emerged in the early 70s.
“From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996) is maybe the perfect example of his film ideal. Written by his partner in crime Quentin Tarantino, this film astonished the audience because of its incredible non homogeneous narrative. In the beginning the spectator is delved into a sophisticated western thriller, while in the end, he can’t escape from splatter Mexican sacrifices and a nonsense finale.
In 2004 he composed Tarantino’s “Kill Bill vol.2” soundtrack, and in 2007 he wrote and directed “Planet Terror” the second chapter of the double feature “Grindhouse”, an homage to all those movie theatres that screened b-movies in the 70s, co-written, directed and produced by both these artists.
Rodríguez shows us an analogic consumed colour film, with grotesque characters and a bloody horror apocalypse that cannot be forgotten; and in the first seconds of “Planet Terror” he introduces his most famous anti-hero, the trash character of Machete Cortez, played by Denny Trejo in “Machete” (2010) and “Machete Kills” (2013).
On August 22nd, his latest crime thriller was released in the USA and collected more than $11 millions in just four days: “Sin City, a Dame to Kill for”. This is the sequel to Frank Miller’s “Sin City” (2005), based on the graphic novel series of the same name; black and white anti-heroes fight against corrupted politicians, policemen and cannibal priests, creating a sophisticated pulp conflict between indistinguishable good and evil.
The audience loved the first “Sin City” chapter, collecting almost $160 millions in the box offices. Co-produced by Troublemaker Studios (founded in 1991 by Rodríguez and his ex-wife) and Miramax Films, “Sin City: a Dame to Kill for” ultimates what Rodríguez didn’t tell ten years ago with his first work, and it seems that it won’t disappoint the loyal fans.The film will be released in France on September 17th.
You can love him or you can hate him; but you cannot deny his talent and his unique devotion to the film world. We admire filmmakers that love their ideas insomuch, care about every single step of the creative process and won’t stop until their ideas are made into reality and that’s why here at ÉCU we like Rodríguez so much.