In the week of his death, WriteMovies reflects on the filmmaking of Robert Downey Sr and its enduring influence on filmmakers including Thomas Anderson and Jim Jarmusch through absurdist satire…
Jake Morgan writes:
After Richard Donner and Dilip Kumar, another significant filmmaker we lost this week was Robert Downey Sr., father of Robert Downey Jr, a director best known for independent films that aligned with the absurdist movement. He gained notoriety towards the end of the 1960s with his film PUTNEY SWOPE, which satirizes the advertising world and corporate corruption.
His movies are a great time capsule and a statement of their time, as the 60s counterculture movement was at the forefront. Downey Sr was known for independent films with a shoestring budget that contained absurd satire, which helped push the counterculture agenda of the day.
Our personal favorite is POUND, which stars a few dogs, a cat, and a penguin as they are about to be euthanized. People play the animals and over the 90 minutes you experience tales of joy, sorrow and even their dreams of freedom before a tragic ending. It is a great metaphor for the counterculture movement and how it was all coming to an end as the 1960s concluded.
The absurdism and the bold filmmaking of Robert Downey Sr. have inspired the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson and Jim Jarmusch. His career is a lesson and a blueprint for screenwriters and filmmakers looking to push and challenge boundaries with no large budget or backing from a production company.