Clint Eastwood

David Fincher Made ‘Zodiac’ Because He Was ‘Appalled’ by This Clint Eastwood Film

David Fincher’s Zodiac has inspirations that root deeper than the film’s subject itself. The 2007 crime drama continues to impress audiences looking for an engaging mystery. However, Fincher actually worked on Zodiac because he was “appalled” by one of Clint Eastwood’s movies.

‘Zodiac’ tells the story of the Zodiac Killer

'Zodiac' filmmaker David Fincher wearing a collared shirt
David Fincher | Michael N. Todaro/FilmMagic

Zodiac tells a story that takes place between the years 1968 and 1983 in San Francisco. A serial killer called the Zodiac killer is haunting the city’s streets. As a result, the killings created panic throughout the community. Investigators (Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards) and reporters (Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr.) become obsessed to solve the case, but it certainly won’t happen overnight.

The Zodiac serial killer is perhaps the most famous unsolved case in America’s history. The story expands past reality into many stories of fiction around the world. Law enforcement knows about five victims, but the killer claims to have many more victims. There are some suspected individuals, but the mystery remains unsolved.

David Fincher made ‘Zodiac’ in his ‘appalled’ response to Clint Eastwood’s ‘Dirty Harry’

IndieWire explored some behind-the-scenes facts about Fincher’s Zodiac. The filmmaker grew up in the Bay Area and knew about the killer as a child. As a result, he always had a certain connection to the material before joining the project.

Zodiac isn’t the only feature film to dig into the serial killer’s story, but it’s certainly one of the most accurate. Eastwood’s Dirty Harry is one of the most famous takes on it, as Harry Callahan was based on the killer. However, Fincher was “appalled” by the way that the film handled the serial killer’s saga. As a result, the filmmaker desperately wanted to make Zodiac into a film that felt historically accurate, but he would need to dive into an exhausting research process to get there.

Fincher worked alongside screenwriter James Vanderbilt. They took a journalistic lens to the subject matter via an 18-month process. They explored over 10,000 documents and interviewed witnesses, law enforcement, and politicians. Fincher and Vanderbilt wanted Zodiac to read as authentic as possible.

David Fincher made one of the biggest critical wins of the year

Zodiac remains a huge critical success. The film is enjoying an 89% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes with over 250 reviews. The film didn’t earn any nominations at the Oscars, but many critics enthusiastically put the movie on their “Best Of the Year” lists. No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood were the only two movies that year to land more list placements.

Serial killers often inspire many forms of entertainment, including film and television. However, filmmakers don’t tend to approach the subject with the journalistic approach that Fincher used on Zodiac. As a result, he created a film that impacted audiences around the world. It certainly approaches the subject matter with more accuracy than Eastwood’s Dirty Harry.

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