Bob Rafelson: Genius of Hollywood new wave

He worked on the iconic films

Jul 26, 2022 - 09:10
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Bob Rafelson: Genius of Hollywood new wave

Bob Rafelson, screenwriter and director of many Oscar-nominated films, died on July 23 at the age of 89. His ex-wife confirmed this news and said that this artist had been suffering from lung cancer for years.

He was born in New York on February 1, 1933, in a working-class Jewish family. He left his parents' home as a high school student looking for challenges and excitement. He was a cowboy, a rodeo rider, a jazz musician, a DJ, a drifter, a sailor, a soldier, he studied philosophy... But he longed for the big screen.

Rafelson often collaborated with Jack Nicholson. They worked together on films such as "Five Easy Pieces", "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "Head" and "The King of Marvin Gardens". Together with Bert Schneider, he created the film “Head” about "The Monkees", from which the famous band continued its later career.

He will be best remembered for the fact that he participated in the construction of the new Hollywood from the beginning of the seventies of the last century, both as an author and a producer. He gave a chance to young authors and found funding for films without which American cinema cannot be imagined today.  

One of the most appreciated films in the history of cinema, "Five Easy Pieces" with Jack Nicholson and Karen Black was shot in 1970, and that achievement marked the beginning of the renaissance of American cinema. Then he received two Oscar nominations - for the best film and screenplay, which he co-wrote.

Thanks to Rafaelson, the previous classical studio system succumbed to the rebellious new generation of creators of a unique film language, such as Martin Scorsese, Brian de Palma, Francis Ford Coppola, and Steven Spielberg. Coppola called him one of the most important film artists of our time. His films had a great influence on Tarantino and Wes Anderson. He collaborated several times with his close friend Jack Nicholson. Nicholson himself once said that it was Bob who started his career.

An upper-class pianist longing for a blue-collar life in ‘Five Easy Pieces’, a depressed late-night talk show host in ‘The King of Marvin Gardens’, and a passionate love affair with Jessica Lange in ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice’, these are all great Nicholson roles, directed and written by his friend Rafelson.

The director will later say that he is most proud of "Mountains of the Moon" from 1990, about two explorers who were looking for the source of the Nile, and the main role was played by Richard Burton. Bob invested ten years in recording that achievement.

Bob Rafelson retired from the world of film 20 years ago to devote himself to his family, his wife Taurek, and then minor sons Ethan and Harper. From his marriage to his first wife, Toby, he had two children, Peter and Julie. However, he lost his daughter in 1973 when she was only ten years old.

Post by: Rinna James