Proyas, Alex

Tagged: Film | People

(1963-    ) Egyptian-born Australian filmmaker who directed music video and advertisements before writing and directing his first feature Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds (1989), a Post-Holocaust film with a strong sense of landscape in the distinctive Australian branch of that tradition. His Hollywood debut was the moody, stylish Comics adaptation The Crow (1994), which achieved a tragic notoriety in the death of its star, Brandon Lee, from a misfiring prop gun during filming. Proyas was badly affected by the experience and pulled out of his next assignment, the comics-based children's fantasy Casper (1995), but returned with one of the decade's key sf films in Dark City (1998), a stunningly realized tale of Memory Editing and Conceptual Breakthrough set in what turns out to be a Pocket Universe. After the modestly budgeted Australian rock comedy Garage Days (2002), he returned to Hollywood for the glossily vacuous I, Robot (2004), a formulaic action thriller on to which the title, some character names, and Three Laws of Robotics from Isaac Asimov's I, Robot (coll 1950) were grafted late in development. Proyas' experience on the project was unhappy: "the bigger the budget," he commented afterwards, "the smaller the ideas." He then spent four years on Knowing (2009), a wildly overblown genre mashup in which the Precognition of a series of Disasters culminates in the End of the World; its conceptual surfeit and cognitive arc recall Dark City, but with much more compromised material. Next is Gods of Egypt (2016), a Fantasy adventure based in Egyptian Mythology; unrealized projects include a new adaptation of John Christopher's The Tripods trilogy and a big-budget film of Paradise Lost. Based in Sydney, where he still prefers to film (only The Crow and I, Robot were not made there), he retains and subtly draws on a distinctively Australian encounter with the arriving future, and has been an important figure in the internationalization of Australian sf cinema. A powerful visual stylist with a conceptual and narrative ambition, and a feeling for darkness and paranoia, that survive even in his Hollywood work for hire, he has yet to top Dark City; but so has anyone else. [NL]

Alexander Proyas

born Cairo, Egypt: 23 September 1963

died

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