An exercise in justifying a ‘Great’ Director

Life has many elements, each with their own distinct properties, purpose, and their own qualities. Yet for humans to make sense of the madness, these elements are classified in usefulness, value and greatness. In film, or more specifically, the making of film, people fill in the roles of these elements, helping to make the world of that film come to life. And just like in life, their usefulness, value and greatness count as criteria in our appreciation of these people. Usefulness, and value, can be measured by what an individual has achieved, but what is greatness really? Can a director be great, even though the films the make are considered by some to be competent, or at best, good? I believe so, and I would like to show you why I think Peter Jackson, considered by many to be merely competent, is in fact, a great director.

Peter Jackson, born in New Zealand, has been interested in the art of film since primary school. It’s well known the original King Kong is his favourite film, inspiring him since childhood, and one of the triggers for him to buy his first 16 mm camera, and start filming (Influences and inspirations 2013). After school, he would work on a short film during the weekends, a film that would eventually develop into a popular feature length splatter comedy known as Bad Taste, giving him a stepping stone he needed to start his climb to the top (Early life 2013).

After directing, and producing various films, some of which met critical acclaim, and others less well received due to his unconventional storytelling methods, he received rights to film The Lord of The Rings epic in 1997. After agreeing with New Line Cinema to produce three films, he started production of these revolutionary films in 1998 (Career 2013).

Peter Jackson is known for his attention to detail, shot coverage, and pioneering of film technology. Even though his films are normally just as ‘deep as you can see’, I believe that the reason for him to be a great director lies on a different route than many others (Style 2013).  

Instead of spending time and talent on intricate plot lines, subliminal meaning, and advanced subtext, he focuses his talent on making the cinematic experience perfect, in every facet. He goes out of his way to get every shot perfect, no matter how long it takes, or how much difficulty it implies. Known for spending days on on the same scene, and quoted as saying ‘one more for luck’ allows him to have a large amount of footage, from every angle available for editing. Even dialogue scenes are generally shot from many angles, one of the recognisable recurrences in The Lord of The Rings trilogy (Style 2013).

Beyond the set, Jackson is known to be a director on the forefront of applied film technology. Being one of the first directors to use live video stream via satellite during the production of The Lord of The Rings, and pioneering motion capture technology with his colleague and friend Andy Serkis, as well as releasing the first 48fps film for general cinema, shows that he is not afraid to experiment and pioneer technologies other film-makers are only willing to employ later (Current and future projects 2013).

Also playing a prominent role in producing various endeavours, he has a knack for seeing aspiring talent. Peter Jackson, after becoming part of a halo film campaign, is the one that noticed Neill Blomkamp’s Animation and Short film reel, and approached him to direct a Halo film. After Halo was cancelled due to financial back-out, he spearheaded production for Blomkamp’s own project, District 9, a highly successful film that won various awards, and remains highly acclaimed in science fiction cinema (Current and future projects 2013).

I believe that even though deeper, more intelligent film making, garners greatness, a film-maker like Peter Jackson, who chose to stow his talents in other categories, still deserves the title of great director. Perhaps it is wrong to set rules for what makes an element of life, and in this case, an element of film society great or not. Perhaps the only way to know if something, or someone is truly great, is to look at the smaller details that make up the whole. And perhaps in the way Peter Jackson considers all the possibilities, and details in his films, we should notice greatness.


Career. 2013. Wikipedia. Peter Jackson. (Accessed 17 March 2013).

Current and future projects. 2013. Wikipedia. Peter Jackson. (Accessed 18 March 2013).

Early life. 2013. Wikipedia. Peter Jackson. (Accessed 16 March 2013).

Influences and inspirations. 2013. Wikipedia. Peter Jackson. (Accessed 16 March 2013).

Style. 2013. Wikipedia. Peter Jackson. (Accessed 17 March 2013).

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2 thoughts on “An exercise in justifying a ‘Great’ Director

  1. Marc says:

    Great summary of Jackson’s accomplishments. I never thought about them like that before.

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