[the following is a translation of this older article]
The more I see movies by Robert Rodriguez, the more I believe that his work is not “original”, but the constant tribute of a fan to his favorite genres and directors. Rodriguez the fan, the passionate movie maker who searches for the emotions of his dreaming young self; I may be wrong, but an example, from my point of view, is recognizable in Predators, third installment of the saga started in 1987 with that milestone of the action genre by John McTiernann, starring Schwarzenegger, and a good sequel in 1993, starring Glover. Rodriguez, who was going to be the director, is actually “just” the producer, but many elements of the movie are clearly an homage to the first movie: the jungle set, the prey building traps, even the end titles on Little Richard’s Long Tall Sally.
A more accurate example is the interesting experiment of Sin City. Rodrigue himself stated that he do not wanted to make a cinematic adaptation of the comic books by Miller, transporting instead the comic on the screen as it is. The complete title is in fact Frank Miller’s Sin City, not a “version” made by Rodriguez; the effort to translate almost every scene in the same visual aspect of the comic book, with strong black-and-white contrast and use of lights and shadows to express not only the atmosphere of noir movies of the Forties, but also the turbulent emotions of the characters, is a worth effort. Rodriguez knew it was the only way to make a movie out of a comic where the story is told by graphic even more than by text.
In the latter years, many movies are reprising the B-movie style, mostly due to the contribution of Rodriguez with his Planet Terror and Machete, combining the visual imperfections of exploitation movies from the Seventies and the Eighties with modern day special effects. Rodriguez’s cooperation with Tarantino on the “double feature” Grindhouse (filming Death Proof in the same manner) boosted the renewed interest for this genre; their collaboration, dating back to Desperado, is now a simbiosis: Machete itself came out of a series of fake trailers they made for Grindhouse.
From this point of view, maybe the most original movie filmed by Rodriguez is his first one, El Mariachi. This is not a negative point, indeed it confirms how early he setted the basis for his own cinema, a very personal interpretation of his passions. Because the first glimpse of Rodriguez’s career dates back to a 12-year-old boy who, watching John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, said to a friend “I will do that. I’m gonna make movies” (source: IMDB). By the way, did I mention the fact that Robert Rodriguez plays his own music in his movies, just like Carpenter?