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How Zack Snyder is filming - director of "300" and "Batman v Superman"
How Zack Snyder is filming - director of "300" and "Batman v Superman"

Lifehacker talks about the style and creative path of an ambiguous but talented director.

How Zack Snyder is filming - director of "300" and "Batman v Superman"
How Zack Snyder is filming - director of "300" and "Batman v Superman"

Zach Snyder can literally be called one of the most controversial directors in mainstream cinema. Crowds of fans consider him a genius and take films literally frame by frame. The studios give him big projects and the leadership of the cinematic universes. At the same time, critics bring down the ratings of his works and talk about meaningless references and allusions.

But be that as it may, almost everyone knows Snyder's paintings. The director has established himself as an amazing visionary and a true fan of cinema. He always did only what he loved, regardless of criticism and failure.

The first experiments of directing

Since childhood, Zach Snyder dreamed of making films. Even after watching Star Wars, he firmly decided that he wanted to make his blockbuster. The parents did not argue either - they even gave their son a simple eight-millimeter camera.

However, at first, Snyder became famous as the creator of advertisements and video clips. At the same time, he even then managed to shoot in commercials such stars of the first plan as Harrison Ford and Robert De Niro.

Therefore, the career of a clip maker turned out to be just a preparation for a real job for Zach Snyder. In 2004, he hit the big screens, filming a remake of one of the best zombie films - "Dawn of the Dead" by George Romero.

As a fan of Romero's work, Snyder abandoned the main idea of his story and showed zombies as a reflection of a thoughtless and dangerous crowd, sweeping away everything in its path.

But he added his own nuance: in the age of modern technologies and speeds, the slowly walking and limping living dead did not frighten people so much. Therefore, in the new version, Snyder showed that zombies can run.

This added dynamics to the story and allowed viewers to be intimidated by the flesh eaters for the first time.

What to see: "Dawn of the Dead"

  • USA, Canada, Japan, France, 2004.
  • Horror.
  • Duration: 110 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 3.

America shudders at the sudden invasion of millions of rebellious dead. A group of survivors are trying to hide in a huge shopping center building. But they will not be able to hold out for long, sooner or later they will have to try to get out.

Comic book adaptations verbatim

Soon after the release of Dawn of the Dead, Snyder was invited to direct the film adaptation of Frank Miller's comic strip (the one who wrote and directed Sin City) 300. And the choice for such a project turned out to be perfect. Snyder knew and loved comics, so in a live picture he was able to very closely convey the atmosphere of the original graphic novel.

"300 Spartans" is a rare case of literally frame-by-frame film adaptation of a printed work. The director simply took the original scenes and transferred them to the screen, processing the footage with the live actors so that they began to resemble the drawn heroes.

But besides that, he was concerned about the credibility. Indeed, despite the fact that the plot is based on the events of the real battle of Thermopylae, various mythical creatures are present in it.

How Zack Snyder Shoots: Verbatim Comic Book Adaptations
How Zack Snyder Shoots: Verbatim Comic Book Adaptations

To explain this, Snyder added the narrator Delia to the film. As usual in legends and myths, he could embellish the story and add various characters to it, which in reality could not be. Otherwise, the plot follows the original in detail, adding only a couple of minor lines of the narrative.

After the release, the picture was scolded for historical inaccuracy and stereotypical display of ancient peoples. But in fact, neither Miller nor Snyder sought to provide an insight into history. This is just a dynamic and dark action movie. And the audience liked the picture, as evidenced by the excellent collection in cinemas.

What to see: "300 Spartans"

  • USA, 2007.
  • Peplum, neo-noir.
  • Duration: 117 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 7.

In 480 BC, three hundred brave Spartans, led by their king Leonidas, decided to repulse the army of many thousands of the Persian king Xerxes. They understood that they would surely lose, but they showed courage and courage, which made even the superior forces of the enemy stagger.

Visual aesthetics

After that, Snyder decided to transfer to the screen one of the main graphic novels in history - "The Guardians" by Alan Moore. Once again, he went to work with maximum efficiency.

Limitations were imposed only by the timing of the film, in which it is impossible to place all the events of the novel. Therefore, after the rental, a 3-hour director's version of The Guardians was released on media, and then the maximum, lasting 3.5 hours.

Zach Snyder again literally frame-by-frame transferred scenes from the comic. In addition, he added a stunning opening credits, with a story about the past of the superhero world and the development of an alternate reality.

Already from this film, everyone realized that Snyder can shoot amazingly beautifully: you want to disassemble his pictures into screenshots. And many consider the "Guardians" splash screen to be a separate piece of art.

In addition, Zach added to the plot the animated "The Story of a Black Schooner" - these are the events of a comic book, which is read by one of the minor characters in the film.

The director allowed himself only one liberty: the ending changed a little. This is partly due to timing again: Snyder had to cut out a few storylines. But it made the picture more modern.

In the original, humanity united against the backdrop of the tragedy in the United States. In the film adaptation, people were literally forced to come to peace. And this is more like the current reality.

And Zack's experience in directing animation came in handy when working on Legends of the Night Guards, an adaptation of a series of books by Katherine Laski. This is a very beautiful and mature story about a world ruled by owls. The animators managed to make the birds completely alive, and Snyder's directorial talent turned the plot into an exciting adventure.

What to see: "Keepers"

  • USA, 2009.
  • Fantastic.
  • Duration: 162 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 6.

In an alternate reality, the world in the mid-eighties is on the brink of a nuclear war. The superheroes who once administered justice are banned. But the implacable Rorschach is trying to find out who is behind the murders of the masked heroes themselves. And soon faces a global conspiracy.

What to see: "Legends of the Night Watch"

  • USA, Australia, 2010.
  • Fantasy, adventure.
  • Duration: 90 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 0.

In the magical forest in the kingdom of Tito, there is the Great Tree Ga`Huul, where the wisest owls gather. But dark times are coming, and cruel neighbors plan to attack the kingdom. All this can disrupt the order of life and even destroy the familiar universe.

Most personal movie

After working on remakes and film adaptations, Zach Snyder still decided to make his own film. The basis of "Sucker Punch" was formed by old sketches of a script about a girl who is forced to perform erotic dances, and at this time she imagines some other world.

The director complemented the plot, adding even more mind games to it and at the same time mixing it with a real action movie.

Snyder himself wrote the script for "Sucker Punch", produced the picture himself, and directed it himself. He even took part in the creation of the soundtrack - various famous songs were re-recorded for him with the lead role's vocals.

As a result, a film was released, in which the idea of madness and liberation is mixed with a comic book picture and the battles of the main characters with dragons, zombie fascists and robots.

How Zack Snyder Shoots: The Most Personal Film
How Zack Snyder Shoots: The Most Personal Film

But Snyder's idea was not appreciated. Shortly after the release, critics literally smashed the picture. Many viewers were also unhappy. For those who expected just action from Sucker Punch, it turned out to be too complex and gloomy. And those who wanted to see an intellectual movie complained about the abundance of fights and shootings. The film did not pay off at the box office and became one of the biggest failures of 2011.

However, over time, he developed a whole cult of fans discussing the hidden meaning of the story. Indeed, in the film, you can endlessly seek out small details: every object and inscription shown in the frame has a metaphorical meaning. And the ending of the picture makes you wonder - who was the main character in it?

What to see: "Sucker Punch"

  • USA, 2011.
  • Thriller, action, fantasy.
  • Duration: 110 minutes.
  • IMDb: 6, 1.

The evil stepfather sends a young girl, nicknamed the Doll, to a psychiatric hospital. From stress, she begins to imagine that she was not in the hospital, but in a brothel. And during the treatment sessions she is taught to dance. Chrysalis and the other girls are planning an escape. And during the dances, she imagines that she is fighting dangerous enemies.

DC MCU launch

Despite controversial directing success, it was Zach Snyder who was hired by Warner Bros. to launch the DC Cinematic Universe, which was planned to be the main competitor to Marvel on the big screens.

The candidacy was approved by Christopher Nolan, who produced the first films. Snyder, with his love and knowledge of comics, as well as his experience in filming the very complex "Guardians", was a great fit for the post of director. Therefore, he was entrusted not only with the production of the first films, but also with the leadership of the development of the MCU as a whole.

Zack Snyder first directed Man of Steel, where he introduced a new version of the superhero, significantly reworking the classic take on Superman. In the new version, the alien from Krypton, although it has unlimited power, remains a lonely rogue. And in order to become an idol for people, he has to destroy the last representative of his people.

As in his previous films, Snyder tried to put complex and ambiguous reasoning under the cover of the comic book. He does not directly speak about the divine essence of Superman, but you can find many hints of this both in the plot itself and in the visual presentation of the story.

What to see: "Man of Steel"

  • USA, UK, 2013.
  • Action, science fiction.
  • Duration: 143 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7, 1.

When the planet Krypton began to collapse, the parents sent the newborn Clark Kent to Earth. He grew up in a simple family and was always forced to hide his superpowers. But one day he has to reveal his powers to humanity and become Superman.

First crossover and removal from management

After the successful release of Man of Steel, the director immediately took up the MCU's first crossover - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. To do this, he again turned to Frank Miller and took as a basis for his comic "The Return of the Dark Knight." True, this time the plot was changed a lot, but the idea remained the same.

Snyder showed Batman in a completely different way from what the audience is used to seeing him. In the new version, Bruce Wayne is already a middle-aged and tired hero. And the first half of the film, he can even be called a villain. After all, it is Batman who wants to destroy Superman, fearing his boundless power.

Here, many fans see in the director's idea an eternal confrontation between the divine and the human. Moreover, the deconstruction of Superman's image continued: Snyder showed that no one can imagine the likelihood of everyday life for a demigod. Meanwhile, he has a mother, a job and a beloved woman.

How Zack Snyder Shoots: The Director's First Crossover
How Zack Snyder Shoots: The Director's First Crossover

As in the case of "Keepers", after the rental, an extended version of the film was released, in which the story is revealed in more detail and storylines have been added that tie everything together. Initially, they were cut out because of the timing, and also in order not to put an "adult" R rating at the box office.

Snyder generally advocated dark and harsh stories, but in the case of DC comics, the age rating for the company turned out to be more important than the director's vision and plot coherence.

As in many previous cases, the picture was scolded by critics, but ordinary viewers fell in love. The box office has been consistently good, but Warner Bros. frightened by the excessive gloom. Because of this, they even urgently began to redo the "Suicide Squad", which was also part of the cinematic universe. And the success of the more positive Wonder Woman only confirmed the fears.

And soon Snyder was removed from the further development of the universe, leaving only the director. From that moment on, DC plots and heroes began to copy Marvel more and more.

What to see: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

  • USA, 2016.
  • Action, science fiction.
  • Duration: 151 minutes.
  • IMDb: 6, 5.

Bruce Wayne, known as Batman, witnesses destruction during Superman's fight with another alien from Krypton. Then Batman decides to challenge the superman. He finds a weapon that can kill Superman. But the heroes do not realize that they are being played off by a real villain.

Personal tragedy and the collapse of the universe

But still, the global crossover, in which the audience was supposed to be introduced to Aquaman and the Flash, was filmed by Zach Snyder again. True, he still had to change the script and make it easier. As a result, Justice League began to look like a regular comic. Some scenes in the film literally resemble storyboards from graphic stories.

Unfortunately, Snyder was unable to finish the film. A tragedy struck in his family: the director's daughter committed suicide. He left the project, and Joss Whedon took over to finalize the picture.

According to rumors, the new director was instructed to add jokes and positives to the plot. And many fans believe that his interference only spoiled Snyder's ideas. Moreover, during the filming of the picture, the authors faced a serious problem in the form of Henry Cavill's mustache.

The actor was forbidden to shave them off due to filming in the sixth part of the Mission: Impossible franchise. As a result, the mustache was removed using computer graphics, and Superman's face in some frames turned into a frightening mask.

What to see: Justice League

  • USA, 2017.
  • Action, science fiction.
  • Duration: 120 minutes.
  • IMDb: 6, 5.

The Earth is facing a new global threat - the coming of Steppenwolf and his minions. Then Batman gathers a team of superheroes. He is joined by Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman. But they lack Superman to win.

Future plans

Director Zack Snyder and his future plans
Director Zack Snyder and his future plans

Of course, after the tragedy, Snyder did not shoot for some time, devoting himself to his family. But at the end of January 2019, the first information appeared about his return to the director's chair. He plans to revisit the zombie theme that started his career.

According to the latest reports, Snyder will direct the movie "Army of the Dead" for the streaming service Netflix. The plot will be dedicated to a team of daredevils who decided on the greatest robbery in history. They went to Las Vegas, filled with an army of zombies.

The director claims that he was given about $ 100 million and was given complete freedom for self-realization. The film is scheduled to be released in 2020.

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