I’ve been watching a lot of Miyazaki films lately (latest one is Laputa: Castle in the Sky), and it seems quite evident that the man is absolutely obsessed with flying. He not only includes flight sequences in almost every movie he makes (Mononoke being the one exception I can think of), but manages to so lovingly capture the details of how things blow in the wind, and how it must feel to soar through the air. There’s always an element of wildness to it, and every film seems to have take-off sequences where characters thrusts themselves into the air as if making a leap of faith, which inevitably becomes the magic of flight.
Miyazaki also has other themes running throughout his movies, such as female coming-of-age, the environmental vs. industrial clash, and the complexity of multi-sided conflicts, but flight seems to be his greatest love.
I’d be interested in hearing about other little obsessions that creators have…
Disney seems to have a thing about orphans. Lucas’s obsession with handectomies is well known and at such a level that it makes me wonder if he wasn’t caught at an awkward moment as a kid, if you know what I mean.
If there aren’t orphans in a Disney film, then the main character either has one parent or one of the parents dies. Walt Disney’s mother was killed in 1938 due to a faulty furnace in a house that Walt bought for her, something he always regretted. This probably isn’t why this traditon came to be, but it’s interesting to note.
Hitchcock is pretty famous for his movie obsessions with mistaken identity and the falsely accused man. In fact, it’s interesting to note that the accused men in his movies are almost never really guilty. These obsessions are said to have stemmed from real life phobias.
Prominent examples of these movies are “Saboteur”, “The 39 Steps”, “Strangers on a Train”, “North by Northwest”, “Frenzy” and many others.
Kevin Smith: Star Wars, comic books, “dick and fart jokes,” and drugs.
Quentin Tarantino: shocking violence and women’s feet.
Joss Whedon: ass-kicking young heroines.
Warren Ellis: the latest in high technology, cell phones, body modification, heroes with substance abuse problems.
Michel Gondry explores human perceptions of reality pretty heavily among his various music videos and films, especially perceptions concerning memory and dreams. Half the time, I think he’s exploring the boundary between reality and perception, the other half of the time, I think he just likes to recreate favorite dreams and images (like his recurring growing hand image), but either way, it’s fun stuff.
Tom Tykwer seems to like stories that show how insignificant incidents can dramatically alter the course of one’s life-- the three variants of Lola’s story in Run Lola Run change direction based on slight changes in timing, and the characters in the Princess and the Warrior seem to live lives that change direction only based on otherwise coincidental intersections.
Speaking of Crash, I would say that from watching that movie (and reading the novel,) and watching Empire of the Sun, J.G. Ballard definitely has a fixation on aircraft, cars being damaged, and the idea of nonchalantly witnessing atrocities and disturbing events and not being surprised or scared, and he seems to have had this since early childhood, if Empire of the Sun is actually autobiographical.
David Lynch usually has characters with amnesia or some other kind of brain damage or memory loss.