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 won the "Big Five"note at the 1992 Oscars. Today is 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:
- Close Up: His defining trait from 1986-2004. Demme shoots close-ups where the character looks 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 uses it 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).
- Genre Roulette: Never met a genre he didn't like.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Arguably could go in either direction. He has directed films that can be more on the cynical end but he has 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 Silence of the Lambs. Appropriately enough, he directed the film that was the Trope Codifier as well.