Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on how Canadian director Denis Villeneuve found his directorial voice and style.
Much like the known universe or a benign tumor, Denis Villeneuve just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
In the span of eight years, Villeneuve has directed seven films. And in terms of budget and scope, each one has been greater and more terrible than the last. Both Prisoners and Enemy were released in 2013; claustrophobic and labyrinthian thrillers about men attempting to divine sense out of their spiraling circumstances. Next, Sicario hit theaters, a simultaneously infernal and troublingly arm’s length portrait of cartel violence. In 2015, Villeneuve returned to science fiction with Arrival, which ambitiously brought Ted Chiang’s ostensibly “unfilmable” 1998 short story to the big screen. The following year, Blade Runner 2049 proved that big, bold legacy sequels are (if not profitable), absolutely possible.
Looking back, the thrust of Villeneuve’s career was always heading for something like Dune, which is about as big as you can get as far as adaptations of this ilk are concerned. It is the white whale of cinematic adaptations, proceeded by unmade and unsuccessful projects and a hardened reputation of being too unwieldy for the theatrical format. And yet, looking back, if anyone was going to pull it off, it was going to be Villeneuve.
In addition to this ravenous appetite for bigger and bigger projects, other characteristic elements of Villeneuve’s filmography have become more cohesive and calcified since his 1998 debut. The following video essay offers a more thorough look at the director’s thematic, visual, and narrative trajectory. Brace for brutalism, distant cinematography, and of course, the odd spider here and there:
Watch “How Denis Villeneuve Found His Voice”:
Who made this?
This video on how director Denis Villeneuve found his voice comes courtesy of The Discarded Image, a video essay channel created by Julian Palmer. The channel began with a deconstruction of how Steven Spielberg creates suspense with the beach scene in Jaws. It has steadily grown from there. You can check out The Discarded Image’s video essays here.
More videos like this
- For another sample of The Discarded Image’s work, on the importance of Persona in the career of Ingmar Bergman.
- And here’s one more on the pivotal role of sound design in the filmography of Edgar Wright.
- Here’s a video essay from StudioBinder on how ambiguity defines Denis Villeneuve‘s filmography.
- For more of Denis Villeneuve’s directorial hallmarks, here’s The Take with a breakdown of the hallmarks that have persisted throughout Villeneuve’s career.
- With a look at Enemy, Prisoners, and Sicario, here’s Screened with a look at how Villeneuve pushes his characters to their limits.