The great film director Jonathan Demme died about a year ago, to be precise on 26 April 2017, due to esophageal cancer and heart disease. He was born in 1944. His recent and older authorial work has the chance to particularly soar if compared with the films of the last two or three decades' mainstream directors, who are almost only opting for commercial choices and just caring to satisfy the easy pleasures of the generic audiences.

Jonathan Demme has most of the time been strictly coherent with his artistic convictions. Only two or three times he apparently gave in to the enticements of the Big Movie Market, but he did it just because he needed some easy money to work independently on projects that no mainstream producer would have ever thought to finance.

It is sometimes necessary to accept the slight kind of compromises that don't have the power to damage a reputation, even if the submitter is estimated as a great artist. In spite of it all, it shouldn't be misunderstood that Jonathan Demme was, first of all, an independent filmaker, a real author. As a cherry upon the cake, it is forbidden to forget that he was one of the last great documentaries' directors.

Jonathan Demme fought for his artistic ideals

Unfortunately, most of the moviegoers know Jonathan Demme on the only basis of the famous two blockbuster movies he directed in the first half of the 1990s, while he however was bearing totally different types of projects in mind.1991's "The Silence of the Lambs" has aged rather well, especially because the plot takes a course that can be defined unexpected and weird, if compared to the average 'thriller' productions.

The aspiring FBI agent Clarice Starling, played by Jodie Foster, is forced to ask for the notorious serial killer Hannibal Lecter's help to try to catch another homicidal maniac, whose nickname is Buffalo Bill. On the other hand, 1993's "Philadelphia" didn't get a good outcome after the unavoidable battle against the cruel and merciless Market laws.

The characters' dramatization is boringly stereotypical and the personality of Andrew Beckett, the homosexual main character, is dashed in a subtly reactionary way. His admission into the so-called normal people's society can't be obvious and automatic. He infact has to pass a sort of aptitude exam (he has a strong sensibility for opera) to show that he too has a soul and he's not an alien from another planet.

The best part of "Philadelphia" is its soundtrack. Bruce Springsteen's "Streets of Philadelphia" and Neil Young's "Philadelphia", both written on purpose for the film, are beautiful songs that perfectly fit the story and their inclusion in the project clearly testifies Jonathan Demme's huge penchant for music, that he made more explicit through other even richer soundtracks, not to mention three documentaries about Neil Young and his historical masterpiece, 1984's "Stop Making Sense", which focuses on a Talking Heads' live performance.

While he was busy shooting "Philadelphia" Jonathan Demme, probably with all his artistic skills, was obsessively dreaming about the most typical of the impossible projects, which he, sooner or later, wanted to begin to work at.

He was pondering about getting a film from "Beloved", the African-American writer Toni Morrison's abstract novel that, for its unusual writing style, is nothing but a challenge in itself. The film was distributed in 1998, it's an almost 3 hours' piece of art but the average moviegoers decided not to reward Demme's magnificent work. "Beloved" wasn't the classic box-office's triumph. It wasn't commercial as the two aforementioned films' fans would have probably hoped.

Some other Jonathan Demme's superb works

In a sense, "Something Wild" (1986) and "Married to the Mob" (1988) are Jonathan Demme's most complete works. With these two other great movies, the director was able to reconcile two essential but opposite aspects of filmaking.

He saved the purity of his independent approach and, at the same time, tentatively tried to make the mainstream audience become familiar with his fresh and innovative style that appeared to be hugely influenced by the rock video-clips' techniques. When the two "Something Wild"'s main characters, portrayed by Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels (they are so greatly close-knit as the famous couples of the 1930s classic comedies) go to an ex-college students' reunion party, the spectator has the pleasure to discover that the Feelies themselves, one of the greatest post-punk bands that ever existed, are the band in charge of the musical side of the party. Maybe this isn't nothing but a pretext invented by Demme to proudly show and underline his personal rock and roll roots, which are as important as those that helped him enter the world of cinema.

Through his work as a documentaries' director, the New York state's native heralded and championed his political acrivism. Among the others, his works about the Haitian nation that struggled to win democracy and the 2003's sort of sequel "The Agronomist" about Jean Dominique, who ran the first Haitian independent radio station, rose to excellent prominence.

Maybe the bad but profitable remake of "The Manchurian Candidate" (2004) ensured to Demme the necessary amount of extra money to plan a final journey to the world of 'indie' cinema. "Rachel Getting Married" (2008) is the umpteenth masterpiece of the artist's career, in which he, like never before, sharpened his European cinematographic influences.This is a sort of theatrical movie, a 'kammerspiel' mostly shot with a handy-cam, a collective and choral story of a group of normally extraordinary people, in which, again, rock and roll plays a very important part.

What can a human spectator do, if not seriously risking to drown in his own tears, when he hears and sees Tunde Adebimpe, who plays the part of the groom and in real life is the lead vocalist of the wonderful TV On the Radio, singing Neil Young's "Unknown Legend" to his bride, as the 'a cappella' soundtrack of their wedding ceremony? And in this interracial, music-infected, chromatically plentiful wedding party, Robyn Hitchcock, one of Demme's greatest music heroes, couldn't have been missed.