As one of the first and most influential voices to come out of America’s indie film golden age, self-taught writer-director Richard Linklater rose to fame with the cult classic Slacker, a narrative-free exploration of disaffected ’90s youth culture. Two years later he released his first major studio movie, Dazed and Confused, a critical and commercial hit that drew heavily on Linklater’s own high school experience.
Linklater would go on to create the beloved Before trilogy, three films set nine years apart that chronicle two characters’ romantic relationship at vastly different stages of their lives. In 2014 he released Boyhood, a coming-of-age drama shot over the course of 12 years, to overwhelming critical acclaim. Across his oeuvre, Linklater’s established himself as a humanist filmmaker whose meditations on life, love and the passage of time have cast an indispensable impact on modern American cinema, and pop culture at large.
At a 2016 Q&A for the Toronto International Film Festival, Linklater was asked to name his favorite books on the art of movie-making, written by directors themselves. He said:
“I think the three best books about cinema by filmmakers are Sculpting in Time by Andrei Tarkovsky, Notes on Cinematography by Robert Bresson and then, in a way, I would say Bergman wrote a couple of memoirs that are great but I read, not that long ago, Elia Kazan’s A Life… You could teach a year-long class on not only their films but everything they talk about and their ideas about cinema and what it is. Very different, all three, but very personal. Especially Tarkovsky and Bresson, very much like their films themselves.”
Explore Richard Linklater’s recommendations below, and look here for more reading lists from famous film directors.
Sculpting in Time by Andrei Tarkovsky
“Flowing, poetic, lengthy, very beautiful, just about life and art and poetry and cinema.” -RL
Notes on Cinematography by Robert Bresson
“Very elliptical, aphoristic, just observations about what cinema can do.” -RL
Elia Kazan: A Life by Elia Kazan
“I wish I would have read it 20 years before I do, I would have been a better director.” -RL
(via Far Out Magazine)