Tony Zhou's video essay explores David Fincher's directing style across his films.

Want to Know What Makes David Fincher Great? Focus on What He Doesn’t Do.

Want to Know What Makes David Fincher Great? Focus on What He Doesn’t Do.

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Oct. 2 2014 1:29 PM

Want to Know What Makes David Fincher Great? Focus on What He Doesn’t Do.

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With David Fincher’s Gone Girl out tomorrow, there is no better time to acquaint yourself with the director’s exacting style. Though Fincher’s technical prowess is often taken as a given, Tony Zhou busts out his editing chops to investigate what really makes these films striking in a landscape littered with Bayhem.

His answers are illuminating: Fincher, Zhou argues, is defined almost as much by the techniques he rarely if ever uses—handheld camera shots, for example—as those he frequently adopts. Like a poet writing a sestina, the director works within self-imposed limitations, telling forceful stories of power and perversion.

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Zhou also shows how a well-directed scene of three people talking can be as dramatic as any action sequence. True Fincher fans should watch until the end, as the director has some choice words for his most dedicated viewers.