Edgar Wright’s first film was 1995’s A Fistful of Fingers. It’s an obvious nod to the work of Sergio Leone, taking its visual style, musical cues, and punning title from the 1964 classic A Fistful of Dollars. The title of his next movie, Shaun of the Dead (2004), is a play on a classic horror film Dawn of the Dead (1978). The rest of his “Cornetto Trilogy” continues to pay homage to all sorts of classic movies in action, science fiction, and thriller genres.

From the start of his career, Wright has imbued his work with the spirit of cinema history, and references to canon and non-canon material alike. However, it was between the years spanning his largely forgotten directorial debut and its successful 2004 follow-up that he developed his particular brand of homage. Between 1999 and 2001, Wright directed Spaced, a show co-written by and starring Simon Pegg alongside Nick Frost. In “Beginnings,” the first episode of the show, Wright parodies the photomontage sequence in Green Card (1990). From then on, he’s off to the races.

In Spaced, Wright swiped dialogue and visual cues from dozens of movies, from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) to The Matrix (1999). The references lean heavily to genre cinema, from science fiction to horror and action, with the occasional spoof of romantic comedies, animated television shows, and even musicals. Hardly an episode goes by without a mention of a certain space opera, be it a diss on George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels or the reenactment of a particular scene. With the show, Edgar Wright planted the roots of his style, which would later grow into the consummate geek auteur of our generation.

 

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