The one movie that made John Carpenter want to be a director

    The one movie that made John Carpenter want to be a director

    For five decades, John Carpenter has been blowing audiences’ minds with a series of brilliant works in the horror, action and science fiction movie genres. A true genius of enticing and exciting filmmaking, the movies of Carpenter refrain from asking philosophical questions of its audience members, rather treating them to moments of striking intensity.

    Without Carpenter, science fiction would be missing some of its greatest moments in the shape of Dark Star and The Thing while horror would equal have significant gaps in its history if it weren’t for the excellence of Halloween and The Fog. In terms of action, one also can’t forget Carpenter’s eternally memorable Escape from New York and Assault on Precinct 13.

    Like any director, though, Carpenter had to begin somewhere and before he had made his first major motion picture, Carpenter had taken a film course at USC Cinema in the late 1960s, during which time he wrote and directed a short film by the name of Captain Voyeur, which featured a number of elements that would later appear in Halloween.

    Over a decade before Carpenter made his college short film, though, he had been inspired to become a director and once explained how watching Fred M. Wilcox’s 1956 science fiction film Forbidden Planet blew his socks off and showed him the kind of ability that cinema had in bringing together mind-blowing visuals and intense sounds.

    “That was the movie that made me want to be a director,” Carpenter once told Esquire. “I had never seen anything like that. The biggest part of the experience was the score – the first electronic film score. It was unbelievable. I still listen to that every once in a while. And it fit, because audiences had never seen anything quite like that in color, in widescreen. It was unbelievable. It was mind-blowing.”

    Wilcox’s film is widely considered one of the great science fiction movies of the 1950s and one that laid the groundwork for the genre’s success throughout the remainder of the 20thcentury. Loosely based on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Forbidden Planet was responsible for bringing made important facets of science fiction to the big screen for the first time.

    For instance, it was the first movie to have its characters travel through space in a human-designed spaceship that could travel faster than the speed of light, as well as being the first to set the entire narrative of a planet far away from Earth and the Solar System. In addition, the robot character Robby was one of the first characters of his kind to possess a genuine personality behind just being a metal prop.

    Forbidden Planet was not the only film that gave Carpenter directing ambitions, though, as he also admitted that Jack Arnold’s 1953 science fiction horror movie It Came From Outer Space, based on a film treatment from Rad Bradbury, was another that inspired him. “I was sitting near the front of the theater, and a meteor came out of the screen and blew up in my face,” Carpenter had explained. “I jumped up and ran to the back of the theater… I thought it was real! I was a kid and realized from there how powerful cinema could be.”

    Indeed, after seeing such films, Carpenter knew that he wanted to be involved in the world of science fiction cinema, and less than two decades later, he delivered his first entry into the genre with 1974’s Dark Star.

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