Some great men aren't celebrated and their genius, not realized, during their life span. They sow the seeds of their following, but they may not live long enough to see even the first results of it. Edward D Wood Jr. or simply Ed Wood, missed to see his first sprout of following, by only two years!
Ed Wood was a Hollywood screenwriter, director, actor, producer, author and editor and he as Wikipedia says, "performed many of these functions simultaneously!" His work was totally dismissed in his time and he had to face immense hardships. Post death though, Ed Wood gave birth to a revolution of Bad Movie lovers! Meaningless and idiosyncratic dialogs, cheap and bizarre sets, use of misfitting stock footages and pathetic special effects, casting of eccentric non-actors; these are keywords that can best describe Ed Wood's cinema! After his death, his classic Plan 9 From Outer Space paved the way for his fame and following, so much so that now a website claims to be following "Woodism" and has a whole church system in his honor!
Many documentaries, rather, mockumentaries have been made on Ed Wood's life and work, but the best is certainly the commercial movie Johnny Depp starer Ed Wood which has perfectly captured the eccentricity, passion and showmanship of the filmmaker. Wood was a heterosexual cross-dresser and was that way as he claimed his mother dressed him in girls clothes until he was 12. He captured the dynamics of this habit as the story of his life one of his initial films Glen or Glenda. He claims to have been wearing women's inner-wear under his uniform during his service in World War II!
His chance friendship with the then long out of work once star Bela Lugosi found him his lead actor for most of his films. The film Ed Wood captures this friendship amazingly, where Wood sticks by the aged Lugosi till the very end and literally, beyond, when he starts shooting Plan 9 From Outer Space based on an old footage of Lugosi walking out of his house and casually appreciating the flowers, etc. and Wood made the rest of the movie with his girlfriend's chiropractor, who he used as a double for Lugosi. Throughout the movie, the chiropractor had his face half covered with his cape. Totally hilarious!
Ed Wood may have attained a cult status out of making bad movies, but the beauty of this is, unlike Kanti Shah, he did not know that he is making bad stuff! He made it with the passion that one day they would applaud his work and remember him as much they remembered Citizen Kane. As much as we enjoy Wood's idiosyncratic film making, we cannot deny the passion that the man possessed.
Coming from a small town Poughkeepsie, he bunked school, went to see films and had a massive collection of film stills. He translated all his love for film making by coming to Hollywood and multi tasking as screenwriter, actor and director and what not! Yes he failed. He didn't get backing. He rose again. He again failed. But every time he made a film, he grew. May be he grew in the wrong direction. He believed that cinema was about the big picture and the audience did not notice small mistakes and discontinuities. Probably, he did not believe in retakes at all, but that smile (beautifully incorporated by Depp) after every time he said "Cut, that's a wrap!" speaks for the innocence and passion inside this failed film maker.
Ed Wood is certainly no where near being the best film maker of all time, but yes, we can strongly say that he is one of the very few filmmakers who loved film-making more than anything else. Being criticized and written off, he always fought back and he always did something out of the box- be it making an alien-vampire outer space classic, or the story of atomic mutation of a scientist in Bride of the Monster. Surrealism and outlandishness formed the basis of most of Ed Wood's work.
Towards his end, he was financially stretched to his limit. He shifted to making pornography like Orgy of the Dead and Necromania. He started writing novels on sexually liberated themes. He did small roles here and there as an actor to make his ends meet. He died watching a football game, at an untimely, 54. That though, was not the end of this amazing, energetic and full of life person. Two years to his death, he was "honored" with The Golden Turkey Award for the Worst Director of All Time.
For a man who took his first shot, dreaming of making a Citizen Kane down the road someday, this wasn't exactly the "honor" that he was looking for. But what happened ahead, was, well larger than life fame, following and a cult status few have got. He deserved it, he always did.
Cheers to the lover of cinema. Cheers to the man who never gave up. Cheers to Ed Wood.