When deciphering what makes a great film, it is clear that a huge part of it comes down to the director, and Alfonso Cuarón is one of the best in the business.
A director controls the artistic and dramatic feel of the movie, while bringing a script to life and guiding all of the technical staff and actors. The vision of the director is what brings a film to life, and it is such a treat to get to a world that they have created.
When looking at the body of work of a director, occasionally some themes can be seen. This may be a certain aesthetic (such as the colour palettes used by Wes Anderson), a certain motif (such as reoccurring camera angels that can be seen in Quentin Tarantino movies), or certain themes (such as Martin Scorsese and gangster films).
One director that stood out to me is Alfonso Cuarón and this is because he has done some very different films in his time. While he does have some trademark moves such as using long takes in his films, the movies themselves are distinctly different. Here is a look at a few great films directed by Alfonso Cuarón.
A Little Princess (1995)
A Little Princess is a film adaption of the novel of the same name but was greatly inspired by the 1939 movie version of this story. The plot sees a special relationship between a little girl, Sara (Liesel Matthews), and her father. Her father is then sent away to fight in WW1 and she is sent to a boarding school. Everything takes a turn for the worse when her father is believed to be killed in action and she then becomes the servant for the school.
The movie explores many themes such as self-love, friendship, kindness, and magic. This was the first movie I ever saw at the cinemas and it’s still a favourite of mine today. Cuarón did such an amazing job of bringing this magical tale to light; of capturing the essence of a child and portraying the beauty of India. This was done in such a way that the film has aged well and can still be enjoyed today. A Little Princess still has amazing reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and is an enchanting and inspiring movie to enjoy.
Fun Fact: The father in A Little Princess is played by Liam Cunningham, aka Ser Davos in Game of Thrones.
Y Tu Mamá También (2001)
This film could not be any more different from A Little Princess in regard to the story, however, is still a fantastic movie to watch. This coming of age story sees two teenage boys take a road trip with an older woman. The film does an amazing job of mixing the character’s personal storylines with a political backdrop of troubles in Mexico. The movie is about relationships, sex, love and so much more. Even though the story is so different from Alfonso’s other pieces of work, it is certainly not one to be missed.
Fun Fact: The entire film was shot with a handheld camera.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
The third instalment of the Harry Potter franchise saw a change in director as well as a change in the story. The main characters were no longer children and more perils and darkness was introduced into their lives. Cuarón does a great job of retaining the essence of the first two films while bringing a more serious tone to the franchise. The director uses a moving and handheld camera throughout the film which keeps the story moving along nicely, while never quite letting us be at ease during a scene. Because of this, we get to imagine what it must be like to be a teenager (and all the trials that entails) as well as fighting a great evil.
Fun Fact: Alfonso Cuarón came up with the great idea to have rain turn to ice when dementors would approach throughout the movie.
One of Cuarón’s most notable pieces of work is Gravity. This movie has a completely different theme to the previous works mentioned but is still glorious to watch. This science-fiction thriller sees two astronauts stranded in space who attempt to find their way back to Earth. The movie is incredible at making you feel what it must be like to be trapped in space, and even at times made me feel physically nauseous. This amazing piece of work is again due to the incredible vision that Cuarón seems to be able to bring to life so well.
Fun Fact: Everything in this film is computer generated except the actor’s faces.
Special Mention: The highly acclaimed sci-fi/drama film Children of Men (2006, pictured top of page) starring Clive Owen.