Nine Single-Director, Multi-Story Films

The Double Life of Veronique

It's been both blessing and curse that my first feature Foreign Correspondents consists of two separate stories. Many people got involved in the film because of its unusual structure; others shied away, fearing that it wasn't "commercially viable" enough. Actually, it's no better or worse than a single-story movie. It's just different. Still, it isn't the first of its kind. Here are nine films that have been split into separate stories. I am not including "anthology films" with several directors (e.g., Twilight Zone: The Movie, New York Stories), nor do I count Love Boat-style pictures with numerous intertwining storylines (e.g., Dazed and Confused, Short Cuts).

  1. Intolerance (1916, D.W. Griffith). In response to public outrage over his pro-KKK film Birth of a Nation, Griffith concocted this four-story examination of extreme prejudice.
  2. Chungking Express (1994, Wong Kar Wai). Twin tales about obsessive love tied together only by a fast food restaurant in central Hong Kong. This is the film that convinced me that it's perfectly okay to have two stories in one movie.
  3. Full Metal Jacket (1987, Stanley Kubrick). Though nominally about a single soldier and his experiences during the Vietnam war, Kubrick's film is neatly cut into two parts (pretty much with two separate casts): the first a nightmarish look at boot camp, the second a more satirical take on the war itself.
  4. Two Daughters (1961, Satyajit Ray). Two completely separate stories about, yes, two daughters - who aren't even related. Melded together from two short films, Ray actually released the film as Three Daughters in India, but apparently two was enough for the US.
  5. Night on Earth (1991, Jim Jarmusch). In this typically deadpan Jarmusch production, the writer/director sets five stories in five cities with five casts inside five taxi cabs, all taking place during the same night.
  6. Flirt (1995, Hal Hartley). Hartley one-ups Jarmusch by not only filming several casts in several cities (in this case, three), but by actually telling the exact same story, three times, with wild variations.
  7. Rendezvous in Paris (1995, Eric Rohmer). Beloved French director Rohmer sandwiches three separate stories together in this film, each one a different take on the trials and tribulations of modern dating.
  8. The Double Life of Veronique (1991, Krzysztof Kieslowski). The one film on this list that somewhat inspired Foreign Correspondents. Irène Jacob stars as two women - one in France, one in Poland - whose entirely separate lives somehow touch each other spiritually.
  9. Pulp Fiction (1994, Quentin Tarantino). Though the film ricochets back and forth chronologically and the same general cast remains throughout, it is very definitely split into three distinct stories, which Tarantino originally intended to be directed by three different people.