Philip Kaufman  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Philip Kaufman (born October 23, 1936) is an American film director and screenwriter from Chicago, Illinois, known for such films as Quills and Henry & June.


Early life

He attended the University of Chicago and later Harvard Law School. After spending some time backpacking in Europe with his wife, Kaufman relocated back to the United States. His time in Europe heavily influenced Kaufman's decision to become a filmmaker, when he and his wife would wander into small movie theaters showcasing the works of John Cassavetes among others. He held some odd jobs including mailman. During his frequent travels he met Anais Nin, lover of writer Henry Miller. The relationship between Miller and Nin was the inspiration for Kaufman's film Henry and June.


Kaufman relocated back to his native Chicago, ready to make a feature film. With his wife behind him, he proceeded to go around town looking for funding for his film, which became his directorial debut, Goldstein. With that film in 1965, he was awarded the Prix de la Nouvelle Critique at the Cannes Film Festival. Acclaimed French director Jean Renoir called it the best American film in 20 years. Kaufman later went on to direct Fearless Frank which marked the debut of Jon Voight. While the movie didn't gain as much attention as Goldstein, it did help Kaufman land a contract in Universal Studios' Young Directors Program. In 1976 he adapted The Outlaw Josey Wales, and was at one point signed on to direct it, but was later replaced by Clint Eastwood.

In 1974, Kaufman directed the film The White Dawn, a drama based on the novel of the same name by James Houston. It is set in the Arctic and stars Warren Oates.

In 1978 Kaufman directed the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which would become his first hit. Soon after, in 1981, Kaufman became involved with the first Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, for which he received story credit. While the character of Indiana Jones was created by George Lucas, it was Kaufman who came up with the story and the pursuit of the Ark of the Covenant.

In 1983 Kaufman directed the critically acclaimed film, The Right Stuff, an adaptation of the book of the same name by Tom Wolfe.

In 1988 Kaufman was nominated for an Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay for The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

In 1990 he wrote and directed Henry & June, which is said to be a major factor in the development of a new MPAA rating, NC-17.

In 1993 he directed Rising Sun, an adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel which removed the anti-Japanese bias of the book. The film starred Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes and Harvey Keitel.

In 2000 Kaufman directed Quills, a satirical thriller film about the increasingly desperate efforts of the Marquis de Sade's jailers to censor his licentious works, starring Geoffrey Rush, Joaquin Phoenix, Kate Winslet and Michael Caine.

In 2003 he directed Twisted, a thriller about a young policewoman whose casual sex partners are murdered while she herself suffers alcoholic blackouts. It starred Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson and Andy Garcia. Many critics cite that Kaufman's contribution to American film is that he's a director who refuses to be chosen as a one genre director, since every film he does is never in the same genre.

Kaufman's wife Rose, who has a cameo appearance in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, co-wrote the screenplays of The Wanderers and Henry and June. Their son, Peter Kaufman, was the producer of Henry and June, Rising Sun and Quills, and co-producer of Twisted.

Kaufman is based in San Francisco alongside other such luminaries as Francis Ford Coppola, Chris Columbus and nearby neighbor George Lucas, where he runs his production company Walrus and Associates with his family. A restaurant called The Steps of Rome, located in the North Beach section of San Francisco on Columbus Street a few blocks north of Francis Coppola's mini-flatironesque Zoetrope Building, has a wall of pictures and autographs devoted to Kaufman.

He will direct a film for HBO about the life of writer Ernest Hemingway with James Gandolfini and Robin Wright Penn starring due in 2008. Kaufman's next feature film project, announced for 2009 and again to be produced by Peter, will be Interrupted, a biopic about the film director Nicholas Ray.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Philip Kaufman" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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