The Films of Paul Schrder

n native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, writer-director Paul Schrader grew up in a strict Calvinistic environment, which restricted his access to motion pictures and other forms of entertainment. As a child, working in the film industry was the furthest thing from his mind. Eventually, of course, that all changed.

Schrader attended UCLA's film school and became a film critic for the L.A. Free Press and an editor for Cinema magazine. Schrader's first success as a screenwriter came with his screenplay for The Yakuza, directed by Sydney Pollack in 1974.

By the late 1970s, he had produced classic screenplays for director Martin Scorsese, including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Last Temptation of Christ. In 1977, Schrader made his directorial debut in the searing drama and social commentary, Blue Collar. Affliction, produced in 1999, proved to be his biggest commercial success, garnering various award nominations, including an Oscar for Best Director. Although not all his films have been favorably received, they continue to reflect his fascination with the human condition.

In talking with Schrader, you find out quickly that he is a very talented but complicated man, oftentimes seeing life from its darkest side. He seems to enjoy going there, exploring themes that no one else will. As a result, none of Schrader's films are simplistic, and they never fail to challenge the viewer on some level.

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