Alan Parker: Career Profile

Like contemporaries Ridley Scott and Adrian Lyne, Alan Parker made his name in advertising before turning his hand to the big screen. Perhaps that explains why many of his films, from eye-catching debut "Bugsy Malone" (1976) to the blockbuster musical "Evita" (1996), have been lavish spectacles whose opulent visuals conceal a hollow dramatic core.

Not that Parker is incapable of restraint. "Shoot the Moon" (1982) was a painfully raw study of a disintegrating marriage, while he let the music do the talking in Dublin-based crowd-pleaser "The Commitments" (1991).

It's just that this London-born film maker tends to let scale and bombast take precedence over human drama - nowhere more so than in "Angela's Ashes" (1999), which took Frank McCourt's gentle memoir of growing up in 1930s Limerick and transformed it into an overblown tableau of sentimentalised Irish hardship.

Parker's refusal to limit himself to one genre makes him a difficult director to pigeon-hole. His oeuvre encompasses hard-hitting real-life dramas ("Midnight Express", "Mississippi Burning"), supernatural thrillers ("Angel Heart") and modern musicals ("Pink Floyd The Wall", "Fame"), while even his failures (period epic "Come See the Paradise", black comedy "The Road to Wellville)" have ambition on their side.

Parker has also been an outspoken chairman of the BFI, and is now head of the Film Council. It is these last roles that have taken up much of his energies of late, to the inevitable detriment of his directing career.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.