The Film That Changed My Life by Robert K. Elder
30 Directors on Their Epiphanies in the Dark

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The movie that inspired filmmakers to direct is like the atomic bomb that went off before their eyes. The Film That Changed My Life captures that epiphany. It explores 30 directors’ love of a film they saw at a particularly formative moment, how it influenced their own works, and how it made them think differently.


Rebel Without a Cause inspired John Woo to comb his hair and talk like James Dean. For Richard Linklater, “something was simmering in me, but Raging Bull brought it to a boil.” Apocalypse Now inspired Danny Boyle to make larger-than-life films. A single line from The Wizard of Oz--“Who could ever have thought a good little girl like you could destroy all my beautiful wickedness?”--had a direct impact on John Waters. “That line inspired my life,” Waters says. “I sometimes say it to myself before I go to sleep, like a prayer.”


In this volume, directors as diverse as John Woo, Peter Bogdanovich, Michel Gondry, and Kevin Smith examine classic movies that inspired them to tell stories. Here are 30 inspired and inspiring discussions of classic films that shaped the careers of today’s directors and, in turn, cinema history.


About Robert K. Elder

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Robert K. Elder is a film columnist and a regional editor of AOL's in Chicago. His work has appeared in the New York Times,,, Time Out Chicago, and elsewhere. For more than a decade, he served as a staff writer at the Chicago Tribune. His other books include Last Words of the Executed and John Woo: Interviews. Visit his website at
Published January 1, 2011 by Chicago Review Press. 304 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

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Elder’s interviews come to life when his subjects speak, in concrete terms, about the details they look for in films.

Jan 27 2011 | Read Full Review of The Film That Changed My Life...

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