Today: July 23, 2024

Great Modern Directors: David Fincher

With Fincher’s The Social Network, an interesting take on the origins of Facebook out this week, we chart the rise of the former music video maestro to Hollywood’s top director.

Fincher’s The Social Network out on DVD and Blu-ray, this week, we chart the rise of the former music video maestro to
Hollywood’s top director.

Alien 3Alien
3 (1992)

in at the deep end after a series of successful music videos for the likes of
Madonna, George Michael and Michael Jackson, Fincher’s directorial debut
took on the difficult third installment in the “Alien” saga
after two classic offerings. As the
moody trailer suggests
Fincher toned down the action of the second film to focus more on the suspense
of the first with only one beastie on the screen and an atmospheric prison
planet setting. A solid effort which improves with repeated viewings.

Infamous for its
troubled production, Alien 3’s unused Vincent Ward script set on a wooden
planet is probably one of the most interesting rejected film ideas ever.


from his experience with 20th Century Fox, Fincher developed Andrew
Walker’s script with New Line based on a serial killer’s obsession with the 7
deadly sins. Drawing stand out performances from Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, Se7en
began to showcase Fincher’s now trademark dark landscapes
only matched by Christopher Nolan;
moody, wet and imposing.

Both Fincher
and Pitt fought with the studio which wanted to rewrite the bleak ending. Pitt
refused to promote the film unless Fincher’s planned finale was used – no
prizes for guessing who won.

The GameThe
Game (1997)

the critical and financial success of Se7en, Fincher focused his talents on this psychological thriller
which saw banker Nicholas Van Orton’s (Michael Douglas) life disrupted by a
strange real-life game given as a birthday gift from his brother. Playing
with themes of paranoia and mystery Fincher directed his most intriguing film
to date
and one
that deserves a wider audience than it received.

Femme Fatale
Christine (Deborah Kara Unger) nabbed her role thanks to a test reel
of sex scenes from David Cronenberg’s Crash.

Fight ClubFight
Club (1999)

Fincher and Pitt’s second
is now widely regarded as one of the best films of all time. Adapted
from Chuck Palahniuk’s novel both Pitt and Ed Norton star as discontented
mid-life men seeking thrills
with a twist yet to be bettered by M. Night Shyamalan.
Fusing comedy, unique narrative and Fincher’s bleak tone the film only took off
on DVD after a mixed critical reception and yet now has a cult status few would
argue with.

Empire readers
ranked Pitt’s Tyler Durden as the top movie character of all time in a recent

Panic RoomPanic
Room (2002)

critically-lauded film
is probably his most straightforward too. An
almost twoheader between Jodie Foster and a young Kristen Stewart,
the film narrates a tense battle
between robbers wanting to break in to the panic room they’re hiding in. Unable
to make a conventional thriller, Fincher brought his dark palette to the
proceedings although opting again (unwisely at the end of The Game too) for a happier ending.

Next time you
watch, notice the voice of the girlfriend on the phone – it’s Nicole Kidman’s
who was originally offered Foster’s role.


refreshed after a 5 year break, Fincher brought the true-life tale of
Zodiac’s 1970’s killings in San Francisco to the screen. Adapted from Robert
Graysmith’s book written during his time researching the case, Fincher and
his producers chose to use their own exhaustive research as well in a bid to
separate fact from fiction.
The result was Fincher’s most compelling film, traditionally bleak,
with standout moments of
and a satisfyingly inconclusive ending.

In a Sight
& Sound
Fincher puts the film’s relatively poor US box office ($33m) down to some
similarly indecisive marketing.

The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonThe
Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

to lighten up for this modern
, Fincher ditched the bleak but kept the dark hues of his previous
films. The bizarre tale of a man (Brad Pitt) who ages in reverse, Fincher’s
highest grossing film also earned him his first Oscar nomination.
Uncharacteristically light in tone
and feel the film was a big hit with audiences who bought into the central love
story but felt a bit too breezy for Fincher’s more expectant followers.

Some of the
film’s props were donated to Hurricane Katrina victims after the film’s New
Orleans shoot.

Social Network (2010)

a screenplay by The West Wing’s Alan Sorkin, teaser
suggest Fincher’s latest film will focus more on dialogue than his
previous ones. With a cast including Jesse Eisenberg, Fincher’s take on the
founders of Facebook certainly sounds like dark material.
Will it be his though?

With over
500million Facebook users, Columbia will certainly be expecting big box office receipts and a
marketing campaign that should take care of itself.


up Fincher directs the remake of Scandinavian hit The Girl With The Dragon
and is
looking at several other projects including a biopic of Elliot Ness with Matt
Damon and a possible fourth collaboration with Pitt as an assassin. Expect both
to be dark, very dark.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website:

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