Robert Jonathan Demme (February 22, 1944 – April 26, 2017) was an American filmmaker and a documentarian.
Aside from feature films, Demme was also a music lover and his filmography also includes concert films, music videos, and documentaries. He re-defined the concert film with the innovative Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense (1984).
Demme has gained a cult following among film buffs. However, he did not achieve mainstream success until he made The Silence of the Lambs (1991), where it managed to grab both audiences and critics and became one of only three filmsnote to win the "Big Five"note Academy Awards. Today it has been cited as one of the greatest films ever made.
Paul Thomas Anderson has cited Demme as a major influence on his work.
- Black Mama, White Mama (1973) (original story only)
- Caged Heat (1974)
- Crazy Mama (1975)
- Fighting Mad (1976)
- Handle With Care (aka Citizen's Band) (1977)
- Columbo, episode "Murder Under Glass" (1978)
- Last Embrace (1979)
- Melvin and Howard (1980)
- Swing Shift (1984)
- Stop Making Sense (1984)
- Music video for New Order's "The Perfect Kiss" (1985)
- Something Wild (1986)
- Married to the Mob (1988)
- The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
- Philadelphia (1993)
- Beloved (1998)
- The Truth About Charlie (2002)
- The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
- Rachel Getting Married (2008)
- A Master Builder (2013)
- Ricki and the Flash (2015)
Demme's films include the following tropes:
- Genre Roulette: Never met a genre he didn't like.
- Signature Shot: Demme's films from 1986–2004 were defined by their use of close-ups in which a character looks directly into the lens. Unlike examples of Breaking the Fourth Wall, the character is not typically supposed to be aware of or addressing the audience. Demme used them as a way to either put the audience in the character's shoes or show the impact of how a character feels at the moment. The Silence of the Lambs is a great example of both. Demme discusses the use of the close-up in this interview (starting at 6:12). A montage of his close-ups can be seen here.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Arguably could go in either direction. He directed films that can be more on the cynical end, but he also directed more heartfelt films as well. Stop Making Sense, for instance, is often considered one of the most earnest concert films out there, with a major emphasis on the fact that Talking Heads really did love their work.
- Tom Hanks Syndrome: With The Silence of the Lambs. Appropriately enough, he directed the film that was the Trope Codifier as well.