British director and artist Robbert Pattinson began his professional career in the mid-1980s, making a name for himself with short films such as Festival (1985) and Trick or Treat (1987). His feature-length directorial debut was the critically acclaimed indie romance Romantic (1992), followed by Out of Sight (1996), which was later considered as one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time. In between those two films, he worked as a cinematographer on various commercials, music videos and documentaries. In 2011 he had his first art exhibition in almost 20 years. Sadly, while making documentaries about famous people and their pets, he contracted a deadly virus that nearly took his life.
Here is a breakdown of Pattinson’s entire professional filmography, organized by year:
Pattinson’s debut feature and first short film were both named after the legendary British arts festival, which was founded in 1947 and named after a wryly tongue-in-cheek remark by producer Michael Balcon about the lack of originality in postwar British culture. Balcon said that he and his colleagues were determined to put on a new kind of arts festival, one that would be different from the rest and that wouldn’t fall into the trap of merely imitating what had gone before. Hence, the Festival was born. Although the festival took place every year after World War II, it wasn’t until the 1970s that it truly became an independent entity and didn’t have to rely on the help of the British government to function.
The festival’s original idea was to show different aspects of British culture, including literature, the arts, and sport, and to promote those cultures abroad. As well as hosting famous artists and guests, the Festival presents a full program of theatrical and musical performances, which are open to the public. These performances vary from classics to modern-day classics and include plays, chamber music, jazz, rock, opera, and ballet. The entire musical program is curated by the BBC, which presents the greatest hits of the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. During the festival’s early years, attendance was low, but as it grew in popularity, it became one of the largest arts festivals in Europe. Today, the Festival is a true institution and a testament to Michael Balcon’s vision.
Trick or Treat
Pattinson’s follow-up to Festival was a sequel/prequel of sorts, in which he paid homage to the original by naming his film after it. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Halloween became a common theme in Hollywood films, with iconic directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder turning out countless classics in the genre. In the midst of this craze, it was inevitable that a spinoff of this literary classic would be produced. And so, Trick or Treat was born. Like its literary source, Trick or Treat is dark in nature, but in a much lighter vein. Set in an English boarding school in the early ‘90s, in the aftermath of the brutal murder of schoolboy Lawrence Pettigrew, the film follows the efforts of headmaster Richard Hammond (Robin Williams) to solve the perplexing murder and restore order to the school. It is an upper-middle-class affair, in which the wealthy Hammond family offers a hefty sum of money to any servant who can solve their son’s murder. As well as Williams, the film also stars Paul McGann, Robert Lindsay, and Maggie Smith. While the literary source of the film was respected, it did not enjoy the same level of commercial or critical success as its predecessor. In an interview with the New York Times in 2014, director Robbert Pattinson admitted that he was nervous about following up on such a prestigious title, but he also felt that it was important to keep the spirit of the original alive, even if it meant making alterations and changes to the original story. In the end, he felt that he had created something new, while still paying homage to the fantastic work of William Shakespeare.
From humble beginnings as a short film, to an art exhibition in almost two decades, it wasn’t until Pattinson’s third feature that he truly established himself as a major talent. Starring Kate Winslet and James Buckley, the film is based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, but expands on the story by introducing Sophia, a feisty and independent-minded waitress played by Winslet. When Sophia accidentally spills coffee on William Conrad, an out-of-work novelist (Buckley) who frequents her café, she is forced to make amends not only with Conrad, but also with her best friend, Gail, a wannabe writer who has long been obsessed with Conrad. The trio’s stories about love, loss, and heartbreak bring fresh and moving perspectives to a Shakespearean classic. While Winslet garnered critical praise for her performance and made the film arguably one of her most memorable roles to date, it was Buckley’s portrayal of cynical writer William Conrad, which won him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, that brought the character to life. It was an impressive performance that established him as a leading man in Hollywood and made him a household name in Britain. From that point on, he would go on to appear in nearly every major British-made film throughout the ‘90s and into the next century. Aside from Shakespeare, Buckley’s films usually revolved around male-female relationships, with characters that often felt like caricatures of the ‘establishment’. While his films often tackled serious issues, Buckley was also a comedy writer and director who made numerous films about male-female relationships, finding humour in the awkward interactions and contradictions that these relationships inevitably produced. He is most famous for writing and directing the 1995 comedy classic, The Man Who Loved Seagulls, which won Rickman an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and established him as one of Britain’s greatest living actors. Buckley also wrote and directed the acclaimed 2006 film, Boom!, a dark comedy about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated parts of Southeast Asia. It is considered to be one of the greatest films of the 21st century and won numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Although he rarely spoke about his personal life, it was reported in 2012 that Buckley had quietly ended his 59-year marriage that same year. He died in 2013 at the age of 92.
Out of Sight
Pattinson followed up Romantic with Out of Sight, another romantic comedy about love and loss, starring Kate Winslet and Jim Belushi. Much like his previous film, Out of Sight is based on a Shakespeare play, this time around it is Hamlet. In the film, a reclusive and melancholic writer (Belushi) hides out in an apartment above a Brooklyn coffee shop that he secretly runs. The film also stars Diane Lane, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Marisa Tomei. Winslet starred in both of Pattinson’s previous films, but she is not involved in this latest project, instead lending her talent as an actor for the film. The film received mixed reviews and underperformed at the box office, grossing just £6.8 million (US$9.1 million) on its opening weekend in the United Kingdom. While it did enjoy an international release, it did not perform well in Japan, where it was not released until after its North American premiere. It was the final film that Belushi would make before his death in 2010. After his passing, Winslet said that she would not work with Pattinson again, insisting that she would rather “break a leg” than collaborate with him, and that his humor did not translate well to the big screen.