The concept of film authorship

Commercial filmmaking, which accounts for most of the films—European and world as well as American—shown in cinemas and reviewed in print, as well as most of the material made for television, is justifiably seen as a collaborative activity, involving the skills and talents of many different film workers.

auteur theory pdf

Does a film need to have an author? The international success of these nouvelle vague films drew attention to their directors' critical pasts, helping ideas about authorship, and new ways of thinking about popular cinema, become matters of debate in Britain and the United States at more or less the same moment.

Much more clearly, here was the director—though in this case also the performer—as artist. As in Cahiers, both the Movie critics and Sarris aimed to be provocative, to stir things up—though more in the arena of critical attitudes than in filmmaking itself.

In the early s Hawks was taken up by auteurist critics in the United States like Andrew Sarris and in the United Kingdom by Movie magazine and Robin Wood, who took Hawks as a supreme example of the understated artistry possible within the Hollywood system.

why is the auteur theory frowned upon

But other arts can pose considerable problems for straightforward identification of authorship. If US cinema was produced in factorylike conditions for mass consumption and entertainment, European cinema was seen much more in relation to, and as the equal of, the other arts.

What is auteur theory and why is it important

Hawks accommodated the demands and constraints—as well as exploiting the possibilities—of the studio system, covering a wide range of genres as well as making classic examples in several of them: Ceiling Zero and Only Angels Have Wings in the action-adventure genre; Red River and Rio Bravo in the western; Scarface in the gangster film; The Big Sleep in the noir thriller; and Bringing Up Baby , His Girl Friday , and Monkey Business in the screwball comedy genre. Griffith — were "authored" by him, or that it was justified to use the possessive form "D. However, this did not mean that every film director should be considered an auteur , or author, or the author of a particular film. Of course, many of the directors that the Cahiers critics championed as auteurs—Hitchcock and Hawks, certainly—were often their own producers and chose their projects and worked on their scripts, officially or not, and so had more control than the general model implied. In Wood's celebrated introduction, he argued that the horror film was driven by the Freudian concept of repression and offered a psychoanalytic and Marxist reading of the genre that remains influential. At the same time, that mode of film production is hierarchical as well as collaborative: not all the collaborators count in the same way. A playwright may be the undisputed author of a play text, but who authors a play text in performance? The filmmaker-author writes with his camera as a writer writes with his pen" Astruc in Graham, , p. New ed. Yet at the same time, auteurism offered a critical method to replace the then-dominant largely thematic or sociological critical approaches with more specifically cinematic concerns, as well as opening up for serious consideration many filmmakers and categories of film barely taken seriously before. He introduced a new emphasis, so-called "auteur structuralism" or "cine-structuralism.

New ed. These objections were recognized, if not paid much attention to, by early Movie writers and Sarris's writing. In a further shift, Wollen put the auteur directors' names in inverted commas—"Hitchcock," "Ford," "Hawks"—to distinguish the real people and creative personalities Hitchcock, Ford, and Hawks from the structures or retrospective critical constructs—the auteur codes—named after them.

The radical changes in film studies brought about by auteurism's insistence on exact attention to just what was occurring in the film brought in its train a number of very important later developments in film criticism and film theory.

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Auteur Theory and Authorship