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Paul Schrader

From Academic Kids

Paul Schrader (born 22 July, 1946 in Grand Rapids, Michigan) is a screenwriter and film director, renowned for his characters that fall into desperation while their world crumbles around them. His influences are Robert Bresson, Yasujiro Ozu and Carl Dreyer, which he wrote a book of essays about in Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer (ISBN 0306803356) in 1972. Despite his credentials as a director, Schrader has received more recognition for his screenplays directed by others.

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Career History

Raised as a strict Calvinist, Schrader did not see a film until he was 18. After studying at Calvin College, he went on to Columbia University and then UCLA's graduate film programme on the recommendation of Pauline Kael. Under Kael's mentoring he became a film critic, writing for LA Weekly Press and later Cinema magazine.

In 1975 Schrader co-wrote The Yakuza, a film set in the Japanese crime world directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Mitchum. Although it flopped at the box office, it brought him to the attention of the new generation of Hollywood directors. In 1976 he wrote the screenplay of Obsession for Brian De Palma

Also that year, Martin Scorcese filmed his script of Taxi Driver which was nominated for a 1976 Golden Globe Award and provided the acclaim and funding that enabled Schrader to direct Blue Collar (1978), which had been written by his brother Leonard Schrader. Starring Richard Pryor and Harvey Keitel, it was a story of car workers trying to get out of their rut through robbery and blackmail.

Martin Scorcese has also filmed Schrader's scripts for Raging Bull (1980), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Bringing out the Dead (1999). In 1986, Peter Weir filmed his script of The Mosquito Coast.

Other films Schrader has directed include Hardcore (1979), American Gigolo (1980), the remake of Cat People (1982), and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985), for which he was nominated the Palme d'Or at that year's Cannes Film Festival.

Exorcist: The Original Prequel

In 2003 he made entertainment headlines after being fired from Exorcist: Dominion, a prequel to The Exorcist. The original director chosen had been John Frankenheimer who died in 2002 from a stroke due to complications after spinal surgery.

After the film was completed under Schrader's direction, the production company, Morgan Creek/Warner Brothers did not like the result and the entire film was re-shot, with Renny Harlin directing. It was released as Exorcist: The Beginning in 2004.

Schrader's version eventually premiered at the Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film on March 18, 2005 as Exorcist: The Original Prequel, where discussions were held for a limited release in the U.K. before its release on DVD.

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