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The Most Iconoclastic Directors in Film History

Updated 6 Nov 2017 2.7k votes 173 voters 4.4k views64 items

List RulesVote up the directors whose work broke new creative ground and often went against long-held, established beliefs of how things should be done

What does it mean to be iconoclastic? In its rawest sense, it means to break the rules. To be an iconoclastic artist, one would have to recognize what is regarded as typical, and then either destroy or reestablish the norm. Iconoclastic artists are innovators and renegades. These are the most iconoclastic directors in film history.

Movies have been around for about a hundred years. Right from the start of cinema, narrative and technical codes were established to help orientate the spectator. A filmmaker would have to follow the rules of continuity editing, for example, in order to assure that the audience would not feel alienated or confused.

These codes have not really changed much in the last 100 years, as films are more or less made the exact same way today as they were in say 1940. However, that doesn’t mean that these rigid cinematic codes are never broken. It doesn’t mean that cutting edge film directors haven’t come along with new ways to shoot scenes, different methods of editing, and more complicated ways to tell story.

The edgy movie directors on this list invent their own structure. Some make films that run over three hours, others invent new technology to tell story, one director on this list even spent 12 years filming his movie in order to tell a realistic story of a young boy growing up. The result of their innovation are iconoclastic movies that stand the test of time like Citizen Kane, Goodfellas, and The Godfather.

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