5 film directors and their psychological MBTI profile [Part II.]

Today we are going to explore the psychological MBTI types of 5 film directors. I have based my research on the analysis of their works and interview quotes. You can find “Part I” here.

Lars Von Trier [INTJ]

“I am a man who likes to control things, and if I can’t control them totally I will not control them at all.”

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Von Trier is a controversial Danish film director with more than 100 awards and 200 nominations at film festivals worldwide, his career spanning over 40 years. Known for his sarcastic control-freak personality he often gets into the spotlight for saying outrageous things that get interpreted in a bad way (i.e. “I am a Nazi” being a joke about his German roots).

Lars is the founder and shareholder of the international film production company Zentropa Films, famous for some non-censored porn scenes in the films (Antichrist, Nymphomaniac, Idiots). Trier somehow was able to convince regular actors in his Idiots to do such a scene for him.

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Trier’s Antichrist

Strongly influenced by Tarkovski, his graduation movie is an obvious homage to him.

Paul Betanny complains that the director uses his actors only as colors in a paint, like Pollock would. Betanny did not like that in Dogville. Others, like Willem Dafoe, enjoy being used as paint in master’s painting (Antichrist).

His introverted nature is visible in his semi-autobiographical movie “ The Early Years: Erik Nietzsche Part 1”. His repressed emotions (see quotes) are perfectly portrayed in his movie Melancholia. He is mainly a rational person (see quotes). His obsession with perfect time cuts and overall perfectionism point to J.

His Antichrist is a great representation of phases of grief, radical feminism, Witch archetype and the indifference of Nature to human (or any) death and inevitable decay. Everything in life is decay and everything is constantly changing. Dogville beautifully shows his misanthropic and stoic nature, whereas Nymphomaniac portrays the loneliness of a true individual in society.

Von Trier: “I take a lot of responsibility, practically no matter who I’m with. Even for an interview to go well. … I am very polite and well-mannered. Pretty shy of conflict, actually. … But deep down I don’t like my polite side.”

Von Trier: “[Disparaging people] has become a hero role [to me] where I think I do it on behalf of what I believe to be just.”

Von Trier: “[Hitler]’s not what you would call a good guy, but I understand much about him, and I sympathize with him a little bit.”

Trier identifies himself as an antisocial personality.

When I show a film at a festival, I am showing myself. Everything is at stake for me.

I think that limitations are the most important part of any art form

I know that I cannot be with a person for three hours without saying at least ten things that would kill me.

I grew up in a culturally radical home, where strong emotions were forbidden.

I had an almost fetishistic attraction to film technology.

A film has to be like a stone in the shoe.

Political correctness kills discussion.

I am crazy about time cuts. I have a theory that the audience tie everything together so they don’t see time cuts but the time cuts give us the possibility of jumping in time, which means a psychological evolution can be cut down.

Basically, I’m afraid of everything in life, except filmmaking.

If one devalues rationality, the world tends to fall apart.

Alfonso Cuarón [INFP]

“The only reason you make a movie is not to make or set out to do a good or a bad movie, it’s just to see what you learn for the next one.”

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Cuarón is a Mexican film director, screenwriter, producer, and editor best known for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men, Gravity and Roma.

Introverted Intuition

In ‘Gravity,’ nearly everything is a metaphor for the main character. The way I tend to approach a film is that character and background are equally important; one informs the other. Here, Sandra Bullock is caught between Earth and the void of the universe, just floating there in between. We use the debris as a metaphor for adversity.

I’m interested in new worlds, new universes, new challenges. I always said the only reason to make a film is not for the result but for what you learn for the next one.

I knew early on that I was a nerd and that films were my refuge. Those first few minutes before the lights went off, and you’re alone in the theater waiting, were really pleasurable.

Other quotes

When you’re doing a film, narrative is your most important tool, but it’s a tool to create a cinematographic experience, to create those moments that are beyond narrative, that are almost an abstraction of that moment that hits your psyche.

When you strip hope from people, it leaves a void, and that void needs to be filled. And very likely, that void is going to be filled by an ideology… Hope and faith are so connected. Now, when ideology connects with faith, the ideology becomes an item of faith, not a point of discussion.

Martin McDonagh — INTP

“People say you should only write what you know. But you only write what you know because you are too fucking stupid to make anything up.”

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McDonagh is a British/Irish playwright, producer, screenwriter and director. His best works include Six Shooter, In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Introverted

I don’t find it easy for me to talk about me.

“I can’t stand up in front of people. It just fills me with horror.” and “I seldom feel comfortable in a theatre. I always feel like I own a cinema. I feel equally happy in an empty one as a full one. Probably happier in an empty one!”

“Right at this moment, I don’t care if they kill me. I don’t care. But they’re not going to kill my stories. They’re not going to kill my stories. They’re all I’ve got.”

I’m not really into the fame side of things, so I’m very happy with making a film every four years or so.

Intuitive

I never really tell anyone what I’m writing beforehand because I usually don’t know what it will be.

“Theatre was an art form that I didn’t really respect, and because I wanted to shake it up and do different things on stage, I was able to combine all the things I’d learnt through writing on my own.”

I went to Bruges for a weekend away from London. I was supposed to be meeting a girl there the next day. It was a tentative arrangement. From the moment I saw the town, I thought, ‘This place is just so cinematic, so gorgeous.’ Every corner seemed to offer a new image.

Thinking

I’ve learned not to be such a show-off and to have a bit more empathy with humanity. Or at least to fake that.

Perceiving

I went to Bruges for a weekend away from London. I was supposed to be meeting a girl there the next day. It was a tentative arrangement. From the moment I saw the town, I thought, ‘This place is just so cinematic, so gorgeous.’ Every corner seemed to offer a new image.

Denis Villeneuve [INFP]

“If you don’t deal with your shadows, you are condemned to repeat the same mistake over and over, as a human being or as a society.”

Villeneuve is a French-Canadian film writer and director. His best works include Polytechnique, Incendies, Enemy and from his late works the thriller films Prisoners and Sicario. His sci-fi movies are massive projects, such as Arrival and Blade Runner 2049.

Introverted Intuitive Feeler

I think I’m attracted to subjects that I’m afraid of. It’s a way to approach things I am afraid of, things that bring fear in my heart, and try to understand them, try to deal with them. It’s like demons. I try to approach it and understand it… I’m just visiting fears.

Sometimes you have compulsions that you can’t control coming from the subconscious… they are the dictator inside ourselves.

I think a good director is a good listener.

My movies are very often violent and dark, but there’s a spectrum of light, and that light is coming from the women.

As a director, you’re a bit of a dictator. But I feel that you’re a better director if you’re open to other people’s ideas. It means that it’s tougher: you have to be in a choosing process; you have to put the ego aside. As long as everybody’s aiming in the same direction… I’m open to my main partners in the film crew.

I’d love to be able to do a comedy like ‘Dr. Strangelove.’ I’m not a very serious person. Really, I’m very silly.

I was ‘impressed’ by Hugh Jackman for five seconds the first time I met him, but as soon as he opened his mouth and shook my hand, I felt comfortable. He made me feel like I was one of his friends.

I never went to school for directing. I studied theater with a director. I followed plays to see how a director would talk to the actors. I tried to make my own school.

When I was a kid, I was always going to bed creating a story, and that was the birth of filmmaking for me. I would like going to the dream-state by telling the story to someone else in my mind. That was my imaginary friend; it was an imaginary audience listening to my story.

I must say, I am a 10,000-times better director because I am in therapy. I’m serious. I can understand more the actors. I can manipulate them more easily.

Nicholas Winding Refn [ISFP]

“[Being] soft and gentle … is essentially what makes you masculine.”

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Refn’s movies are real and raw, full of violence and blood, packed in a stylish composition. His first movies Bleeder and Pusher follow the lives of Danish drug dealers and are oh so very raw. Bronson and Valhalla Rising are just pure colorful violence. Drive is a love story, where the main hero shows almost no emotion at all on the surface, but cares about the heroine deeply. Only god forgives is a metaphorical story about the God of revenge, filled with brutal and graphic violence (torture, eye gouging, hot frying pan oil) and sex. I see no desire to explore metaphysical themes in Refn. All of this combined, we get a nice ISFP.

“I am in a very vulnerable position, always, because I am exposing myself.”

“When you live in a world where normality becomes more regulated … the need to express yourself … becomes stronger and stronger.”

“The biggest prize for me in making ‘Drive’ was that I was able to make a film the way I wanted to make it. … Just you, doing what you do.”

“[Being] soft and gentle … is essentially what makes you masculine.”

“The less I understand [my art] the more I feel comfortable doing it. Because in a way, art is a great way to release your love, fantasy, and desires.”

“The best thing you can do with actors is collaborate with them. My job is to inspire them to give their best.”

“I think [Ryan Gosling and I] are similar in many ways.”

“I grew up with the whole post-Bowie phenomenon. I always remember him as the greatest dressed man in the world. David Bowie for me represents fashion in all forms.”

Written by

INTP, Master’s degree in comp-sci, Creator, indie game developer, director, writer, photographer. I like BJJ, Jungian psychology, mythology and memes.

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