Infographics: Directors and the Directors Who Influence Them

One of my favorite aspects of watching a film is tracing the directorial roots. Certain shots, scenes, or bits of dialogue hearken back to other films made by other directors, usually by design. After all, directors are probably the biggest fans of film. You’d have to be to be able to tap into the reservoir of knowledge that they employ when constructing their movies. In many cases, there are specific directors whose films inspire young filmmakers to go into the business, which renews the cycle for the next generation. Here are some infographics that illustrate just how influential a masterful director can be.

(click on any image for the full resolution version)

Here’s one from a different perspective- the various directors who influenced a specific director:

Note that the source on all of these is the individual directors’ Wikipedia pages. I’m quite certain that they’re not complete but it should give you a pretty good idea how much of an impact a great director can make on future generations.


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Filed under Ingmar Bergman, Movies, Swedish Film

37 responses to “Infographics: Directors and the Directors Who Influence Them

  1. Very informative. Unsurprisingly, my ten favourite LIVING directors are all influenced by Kubrick, apparently, although the Bergman one was the most interesting.

    • That list of directors who claim to be influenced by Kubrick is a really big badge of honor for the guy.

      I’m also not surprised that a few names- Scorsese, Spielberg, and Tarantino- kept showing up on a LOT of different directors’ lists. Those three are notorious movie lovers. And given the quality of their films, it probably says something about what it takes to be a great filmmaker.

      Bergman certainly had the most diverse list. He’s the only one who had women citing his work, even if it was only two. He also had a Korean horror/thriller director, an animé director, American icons like Altman and Kubrick and Woody Allen, some very skilled modern day directors, multiple countries, even a French New Wave stalwart (Rohmer). That’s quite a spread.

      There were two more that I wanted to do- Hitchcock and Roger Corman- but it would’ve been borderline impossible to corral all of the people they’ve influenced. It would’ve been laughably incomplete.

  2. Very Interesting, thanks for putting that together John. How are you feeling now?

    Kubrick really was a big cheese in setting up how we see films today hey? I mean in the way he has influenced many many film makers. Amazing stuff.

    I wonder if anyone from our generation will have the same effect in coming years!


    • I’m doing much better, thanks for asking.

      I could see Guillermo Del Toro him having a longer influence. Maybe not as much as Kubrick or Bergman, but he’s got enough imagination and skill using CGI (without CGI becoming the story) that I could see his having an impact.

  3. The guy who met Kevin Meany

    Good list. I do have one comment: I’m not sure Michael Moore was influenced by Kubrick as much as he is a fan of Kubrick. Of course, Michael Moore’s greatest influence was Krispy Kreme.

    • Here’s what Wikipedia’s Kubrick page has to say about Moore. It’s actually kind of laughable:

      Although Michael Moore specializes in documentary film-making, at the beginning of shooting his only non-documentary feature film Canadian Bacon, he sat his cast and crew down to watch Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. He told them “What this movie was in the ’60s, is what we should aspire to with this film.” Moore had previously written Kubrick a letter telling him how much Bacon was inspired by Strangelove.

      • The guy who met Kevin Meany

        I stand corrected. I completely forgot about Canadian Bacon. I guess I can see the similarities. Dr. Strangelove is good however not my favorite. I almost feel like saying that is blasphemy around a bunch of Kubrick-ites.

  4. My favourites are all too in the Kubrick one (no surprise there really). Great post, I love the Bergman one; just watched Fanny and Alexander again after seeing it on stage!

  5. Like the others said, very cool seeing the data graphically, even if incompletely. I found most interesting watching as more and more younger directors (be it in age or in how many years they’ve been “A-List”) started showing up (Spielberg, which is filled with ups and downs).

    Dr. Strangelove is my favorite Kubrick, but to be fair I haven’t seen Spartacus or Lolita. I put Strangelove over 2001, Clockwork, and Shining, though. The war room and commander scenes are just so absurd, it’s awesome. Great film.

    • I’m gradually filling out the Kubrick list. Lolita, Paths of Glory, and Spartacus are all holes for now. Strangelove is probably my favorite at this point.

  6. sameer

    Good work.. though I must say the most shocking for me was there was no mention of AKIRA KUROSAWA! And I am aware that even Fellini, Bergman, Truffaut, n also a lot of the directors that are mentioned above were influenced by him.

  7. SAM


    • Dave

      yea, and what about Hitchcock and Howard Hawks? My list would be far better than this one.

      • It was never intended to be a complete list. I’ve listed examples. As I mentioned just two comments after your very own, directors were excluded for tactical reasons. In the interest of accuracy, I wanted something that supplied specific source material listing the influence (i.e. the individual directors’ Wikipedia pages). Hawks’ and Hitchcock’s Wikipedia pages do not possess that.

      • martin

        Dave, can you post said list when it’s completed.. I’d love to see it… seeing how it’d be better than this one and all.

  8. Rob

    I think you’re forgetting one key director who has influenced quite a few directors… Akira Kurosawa. I mean, as I heard somebody say quite cleverly a while ago, “He’s your favourite director’s favourite director”. Enough said.

  9. I would have loved to include Kurosawa- he’s one of my absolute favorites, and there’s no denying his influence. Unfortunately, he was excluded essentially for tactical reasons. In the interest of accuracy, I wanted something that supplied specific source material listing the influence (i.e. the individual directors’ Wikipedia pages), and the Kurosawa page doesn’t include a full list. It would have felt woefully incomplete.

  10. rtm

    Wow, what a fun way to learn about directors. Love the graphics, John, it must’ve taken you a while to research and put this together, well done! I can totally see Joe Wright’s influenced by David Lean, I love that guy’s work.

  11. Brian

    Fun graphic! I agree with needing to include Kurosawa but how about also including a director who influenced him: John Ford. Or would that graphic simply be “everybody’ 🙂

    I beleive it was Orson Welles whos said something like “the three most important American directors are John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford.”

  12. valdezlopez

    There are two -very obvious- names missing from the “Directors influenced by Steven Spielberg” list: J.J. ABRAMS and M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN.
    They’re in some way Spielberg’s heirs.
    This article was a great read! Thanks!

  13. Rishi

    I consider Kubrick to be one of the two greatest directors to walk this planet. The other? Andrei Tarkovsky.
    How come no one has mentioned the influence of Stalker or Mirror or Solaris?
    I had the great opportunity to meet David Lynch in India in 2008 and he told me one of his big influences was Tarkovsky. Heck Terrence Mallick seems to base his work on Tarko’s vision.

    Anyways I will stop.

    • Please, go on if you’d like. It’s great information. I know that Bergman- who is my absolute favorite- would agree with you. Apparently they had a lot of mutual respect for each other. Here’s what Bergman said about Tarkovsky:

      My discovery of Tarkovsky’s first film was like a miracle.

      Suddenly, I found myself standing at the door of a room the keys of which had, until then, never been given to me. It was a room I had always wanted to enter and where he was moving freely and fully at ease.

      I felt encouraged and stimulated: someone was expressing what I had always wanted to say without knowing how.

      Tarkovsky is for me the greatest, the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.

      And also:

      When film is not a document, it is dream. That is why Tarkovsky is the greatest of them all. He moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams. He doesn’t explain. What should he explain anyhow? He is a spectator, capable of staging his visions in the most unwieldy but, in a way, the most willing of media. All my life I have hammered on the doors of the rooms in which he moves so naturally. Only a few times have I managed to creep inside. Most of my conscious efforts have ended in embarrassing failure – THE SERPENT’S EGG, THE TOUCH, FACE TO FACE and so on.

      Fellini, Kurosawa and Bunuel move in the same fields as Tarkovsky. Antonioni was on his way, but expired, suffocated by his own tediousness. Melies was always there without having to think about it. He was a magician by profession.

  14. MudFlapp

    Have a poster where the titles says;
    American Directors influnced By Kurosawa
    under it is says “Everyone”

  15. Jeffrey Simons

    Would love to see a list of directors influenced by Peckinpah. People seem to forget the yearly outrage over violence in films started with The Wild Bunch . . . one can clearly see his influence in Scorsese, Woo, Tarantino, even Michael Bay (not really a compliment!). What Peckinpah also pioneered was the stubborn director who refused to compromise his artistic vision in any manner to the studio . . . can’t imagine him being around today without punching some lame brained product placement/focus group driven bean counter . . . so many directors today benefited from his constant fights with the studios.

  16. Sydney Lumet also influenced PTA, or at least Network did. The narration is pretty much spot on.

  17. The guy who met Kevin Meany

    Jesus, did you ever think you would get so much crap for leaving Kurosawa off the list?

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  19. Kevincito

    I remember hearing Tarantino say that he doesn’t really like Kubrick or Orson Welles. Critics always mention how Reservoir dogs ripped off the killing, but Tarantino always said this was unintentional.

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  21. Jonathan Houting

    John Hughes was very influenced by Kubrick, and it shows in a lot of his films.

  22. Compelling stuff. I really do think there should more of “directors who influenced ______ ”

    All of my favourite directors on my list influenced each other one way or another. The influence can be either subtle or obvious. Here is a list of my favourite directors and who influenced them (either mentioned by the filmmakers themselves or possible influences that aren’t mentioned by them but are reflected in their work).

    – Paul Thomas Anderson (Jonathan Demme, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Robert Altman, Max Ophuls, Orson Welles)
    – Stanley Kubrick (Max Ophuls, Ingmar Bergman, Vittorio De Suca and Federico Fellini)
    – Denis Villeneuve (Ridley Scott, Sam Mendes and Park Chan-wook)
    – Frank Darabont (Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas)
    – Sam Mendes (Frank Darabont, Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, Christopher Nolan, and The Coens)
    – Christopher Nolan (Stanley Kubrick, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott and Terrence Malick)
    – Park Chan-wook (Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and literary influences like Kurt Vonnegut, Franz Kafka, William Shakespeare, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Honore de Balzac, and Sophocles)
    – Edgar Wright (Sam Raimi, The Coens and John Landis)
    – Alfonso Cuaron (Alain Tenner)
    – Jonathan Demme (Samuel Fuller, Alfred Hitchcock)
    – Don Hertzfeldt (David Lynch, Terry Gilliam and Steven Spielberg)

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