Director’s Spotlight: Todd Haynes

Haynes’s style and camerawork create visual poetry

Photo courtesy of Steve Granitz

By: Hannah Davis

Todd Haynes’s films can be described as anything from eccentric and fascinating to raw and heartwarming. He is an American director and screenwriter whose films include Velvet Goldmine (1998), I’m Not There (2007), and Carol (2015). I’m dazzled by Todd Haynes, his movies, his creativity, and the captivating way in which he tells stories on screen.

     Velvet Goldmine was the first Haynes film I ever saw. This movie features lively and sometimes chaotic camerawork, great performances, and a wonderful soundtrack reminiscent of music from the Glam Rock movement of the 1970s. Throughout the film, Haynes heavily references scenes from Citizen Kane and cuts the drama with some glittery music video interludes. Haynes attempted to make this film a David Bowie biopic, but failed to get Bowie’s permission. He proceeded to make the film anyways, changing enough about the movie that there was no fear of legal ramifications.

      I’m Not There is Haynes’ Bob Dylan biopic. The first time I watched this film, I felt like I had witnessed visual poetry. Six different actors assume the role of Bob Dylan, a decision meant to represent the multiple stages in the artist’s life. These six characters seem to exist simultaneously in the world of I’m Not There, as the audience is seamlessly whisked from one narrative to the next. This movie is also full of Dylan’s music, and I recommend it to all those who love Dylan or folk music.

      Overall, I see Todd Haynes as a director who values creativity, song, and the complexities of the human spirit. I recommend his films to anyone who is a fan of art, music, or imagination.