Oscar winner Sir Sam Mendes revisits the films that have influenced his life and career.
In Life Cinematic, filmmakers draw on their knowledge and expertise to shine a light on the artistry of films that they love, be it the perfect protagonist, sound design, chase sequence or simply their favourite single shot.
The series begins with acclaimed British director Sir Sam Mendes, director of Oscar-nominated 1917 as well as (Oscar winning) American Beauty, Revolutionary Road and James Bond films Skyfall and Spectre. Mendes is interviewed by Edith Bowman, coming to BBC Four on Thursday 30 January and on BBC iPlayer: watch an introduction above and pull up a chair for Sam’s favourite scenes below
Perfect establishing scene
Blue Velvet (1986)
David Lynch’s Reagan-era neo-noir follows clean-cut student Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle McLachlan) as he delves into the terrifying criminal underbelly of his picture-perfect hometown.
According to Lynch, “This is the way America is to me. There’s a very innocent, naive quality to life, and there’s a horror and a sickness as well. It’s everything.”
The film’s opening sequence would be a huge influence on Mendes’ own American Beauty.
Taxi Driver (1976)
In a pivotal moment in Martin Scorsese’s gritty New York thriller, loner Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) telephones the woman he is infatuated with to apologise for taking her to a porn flick on their first date.
As the socially awkward veteran vainly attempts to explain himself, the camera slowly pans away to focus instead on an empty hallway, as if too embarrassed to keep watching. For Scorsese, it was “the most important shot in the film”.