RingSide Report

World News, Social Issues, Politics, Entertainment and Sports

Ringside Report Puts The Spotlight On Robert Zemeckis


By Geoffrey Huchel

Robert Zemeckis is one of American film industries most successful filmmakers with praise for his directing talent and his innovation for the use of special effects in the majority of his films. Many of his movies are among the most successful and highest-grossing of all time. Besides directing, he is also known for producing and screenwriting. Zemeckis’ films are known for their state-of-the-art special effects, including the early use of the insertion of computer graphics into live-action footage, and performance capturing techniques.

Robert Zemeckis is responsible for some of the greatest movies to ever grace the sliver screen, some of which are tops on my list.

Before becoming one of Hollywood’s most successful and ground-breaking directors, Zemeckis attended Northern Illinois University where he gained experience as a film cutter for NBC News in Chicago. During summer break, he transferred to USC and while there he developed a friendship with writer Bob Gale, also a student. Zemeckis won a Student Academy Award at USC for his film, A FIELD OF HONOR. As a result, he won the attention of Steven Spielberg. Spielberg became Zemeckis’ mentor and executive produced his first two films, I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND (1978) starring Nancy Allen, and USED CARS (1980), starring Kurt Russell, both were co-written by Zemeckis and Gale. Both films were well received critically, however they were commercial failures.

The early years of Zemeckis’ directing career hit a snag due to the fallout of his first two films. He had trouble finding work in the early 1980s, though he and Gale kept busy writing. One of their projects about a teenager who accidentally travels back in time to the 1950s was turned down by every major studio. He continued to struggle until he was hired by Michael Douglas in 1984 to direct ROMANCING THE STONE (1984), starring Douglas and Kathleen Turner. The film became a sleeper hit and Zemeckis’s career was looking bright. After the success of ROMANCING THE STONE, the director had the power to direct his time-travelling screenplay, which we all know as BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985), starring Michael J. Fox, Lea Thompson and Christopher Lloyd. Following BACK TO THE FUTURE, he enjoyed great success with the hits WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT (1988), with Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd and Joanna Cassidy and BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II (1989) and BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III (1990, with returning stars Fox, Thompson and Lloyd. Zemeckis’s next two projects were perfect examples of his signature style of blending live action with computer graphic imaging. The first being the comedy DEATH BECOMES HER (1992), starring Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis and Goldie Hawn, and the Oscar winning drama FORREST GUMP (1994), starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson and Sally Field. Zemeckis’ next project was for television, directing 3 episodes of the series TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1989). He followed-up with the mystery/drama CONTACT (1997), starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey.

By the 2000s Zemeckis was already at the top of his game and his recent successes were just a prelude to what was to come. In 2000, he released the spooky drama/thriller (and one of my personal favorites) WHAT LIES BENEATH, starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford. The film, which featured some Hitchcock inspired elements, was a big hit for the director. His next project was another Tom Hanks vehicle, CASTAWAY (2000), costarring Helen Hunt.

Zemeckis took a break from directing for a few years, then, in 2004, one of his most successful films. THE POLAR EXPRESS (2004) was released. The film, starring Tom Hanks, has become one of the most popular holiday movies of all time. His next film was the animated BEOWULF (2007), starring Angelina Jolie, Robin Wright and Anthony Hopkins. His next film, the animated A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2009) was released, starring the voices of Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Robin Wright.

In recent years Zemeckis released FLIGHT (2012), starring Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle and John Goodman, THE WALK (2015), with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the action/drama ALLIED (2016), starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard and the most recently released WELCOME TO MARWEN (2018), starring Steve Carell, Janelle Monae, Diane Kruger and Leslie Mann. Look for Zemeckis’ upcoming projects, THE WITCHES and THE KING, among others, being released in the near future.

Zemeckis may be known mostly for his directing, but he has quite an extensive resume of films that he’s produced including (in addition to directing): DEATH BECOMES HER, CONTACT, WHAT LIES BENEATH, CAST AWAY, THE POLAR EXPRESS, BEOWULF, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, FLIGHT, THE WALK, ALLIEDWELCOME TO MARWEN, and also THE FRIGHTENERS (19960, BORDELLO OF BLOOD (1996), HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999), THIRTEEN GHOSTS (2001), GHOST SHIP (2002), MATCHSTICK MEN (2003), GOTHIKA (2003), HOUSE OF WAX (2005), MONSTER HOUSE (2006), LAST HOLIDAY (2006), THE REAPING (20070MARS NEEDS MOMS (2011) and 7 episodes of the hit TV series MANIFEST (2018), among many others.

Major Awards for Zemeckis include:

Oscar- Directing-FORREST GUMP
Golden Globe- Directing- FORREST GUMP

Essential Zemeckis:

CONTACT (1997)
CAST AWAY (2000)
FLIGHT (2012)

[si-contact-form form=’2′]

Leave a Reply