Blockbuster filmmaker Roland Emmerich has been destroying the world onscreen for decades. His seminal disaster film Independence Day left an indelible mark on popular culture and won the Academy Award for visual effects, giving way to similar cinematic calamity in movies like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012. Along the way he’s taken historical detours with productions like The Patriot, 10,000 BC, Anonymous and Stonewall, but he returns to the apocalyptic this year with Moonfall, in theaters this month.
Here he shares with A.frame his top five favorite films of all time.
This is my favorite movie. When you look at all my movies, it’s always normal, regular people in extraordinary circumstances. And they always triumph. Because these are very big stories and I think if they don’t triumph at the end, you have not made the right movie. Somebody like Richard Dreyfuss, who plays this electrician, if he doesn’t walk into the spaceship at the end, you haven’t done your job.
Star Wars is just an incredible, fun movie. And it’s not so much “my” kind of movie, but I was just blown away by the visual effects and everything. To have this onslaught of imagination—it’s really amazing from that perspective.
Cinema Paradiso is something I watch every year, because it shows you how much you have to be in love with film. Every time he opens the box and there are all the kisses put together, and that rolls and you see only people kissing … every time, I start crying. It shows you what movies have to be.
A classical movie. Not maybe a movie that I would do, but it’s a masterpiece. Everything about it. And that Mario Puzo wrote the script? I mean, come on. That’s incredible, when an author shows us all how to write a script!
I think this is the only movie where you understand Vietnam—where you viscerally understand it. They’re driving first through this open river and you see how the [soldiers] operate and the Robert Duvall character is just hysterical, and then it becomes darker and darker and darker.