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Auteur theory.

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Presentation on theme: "Auteur theory."— Presentation transcript:

1 Auteur theory

2 Auteur analysis Auteur analysis seeks to identify the unique artistic contribution of a particular individual (usually the director) to a televisual text Comes from film studies but has been applied to television, music creators

3 In his 1954 essay "Une certaine tendance du cinéma français" ("a certain tendency in French cinema"), François Truffaut coined the phrase "la politique des Auteurs", and asserted that the worst of Jean Renoir's movies would always be more interesting than the best of Jean Delannoy's. His essay encouraged critics to look at films and to value them in a certain way. Truffaut provocatively said that "(t)here are no good and bad movies, only good and bad directors".

4 “A true film auteur is someone who brings something genuinely personal to his subject instead of just producing a tasteful, accurate but lifeless rendering of the original material.” (emphasis added) Francois Truffaut The critic who champions the auteur prefers the ‘magnificent failure’ of an artist to the brilliant success of a technician.

5 A number of other film critics in the Cahiers took up Truffaut’s cause and a number of auteur analyses of directors (especially French new-wave directors) were produced Over time, the approach was applied to analysis of Hollywood directors (Hitchcock) Opposition argued that directors from studio-driven Hollywood did not qualify as ‘authors’ of the movies

6 Truffaut and the critics writing in the Cahiers (notably Andre Bazin, the editor) recognized that moviemaking was an industrial process. However, they proposed an ideal to strive for: the director should use the commercial apparatus the way a writer uses a pen and, through the mise en scène, imprint their vision on the work (conversely, the role of the screenwriter was minimized in their eyes).

7 Auteur theory was imported to the United States in the 1960s, with Andrew Sarris its strongest proponent "Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962", "Towards a Theory of Film History", from Film Culture Anthology (Secker and Warburg 1971) by P. Adams Sitney (ed.)

8 Who is the author? The first requirement of auteur analysis is that the critic provide adequate justification for the identification of an ‘auteur.’ No auteur, no auteur analysis. What are the standards?

9 Personality and personal style
Must identify the personality, approach to filmmaking, special talents, etc. of the auteur

10 Influences Analyses often review the life of the auteur, focusing on any personality-building experiences, influential teachers and creative influences such as novels or films that were especially powerful. Attempts to find the influences and experiences that shaped the auteur’s approach to filmmaking

11 Indicators of independence
The auteur cannot simply be a functionary of the industrial system Constraints from the studio, networks, etc. Fights with executives, other creatives Contracts providing creative control

12 Indicators of artistry [Nick Burnett]
“A close visual and textual examination of two aspects of the work 1) the mis en scene (all the means available to a director to express her attitude toward the character—pacing, camera movement, cuts, angle and distance of the camera, content of the shot, etc.) and [Note: this combines mis-en-scene with editing as we have used the terms] 2) the pattern of thematic motifs across the author’s entire work”

13 Style If a director’s visual approach (‘style’) is consistently applied to a range of material that you would expect to vary had they been directed by a number of different individuals, then that consistent visual approach can be seen as a signature of the auteur.

14 Examples of ‘auteurs’ Howard Hawkes in Hollywood studio film
Steven Bochco in network TV Bruce Springsteen in contemporary commercial music Lady Gaga? Michel Condry in music videos

15 Auteur analysis Subjective in nature.
The questions addressed and the types of evidence invoked are often ‘beneath the surface’ of the texts and therefore require training and expertise to identify and evaluate. Allows the critic to be inventive, to evaluate a wide variety of evidence and to combine that evidence in ways that are difficult in more ‘scientific’ approaches to criticism.

16 An auteur analysis is judged by how convincing and compelling the scholarly community finds it.
There are no objective measures of the quality of such an analysis Open to criticism because there are no clear objective standards

17 Scholars have questioned whether a film (or, in the case of Butler, a TV show) has any single auteur that can be identified. They say collaborative nature of TV or film production and the many influences over the final product mean that no individual can be said to provide the predominant creative influence.

18 Sources of critique Screenwriters, especially, have argued that their contribution is equal to or greater than that of the director

19 Butler argues that these conditions hold true especially for television, where the time demands of production require multiple directors, screenwriters, cinematographers, etc. for a given series. Despite the different personnel series do provide very similar content from episode to episode. Some argue for the producer or the ‘showrunner’ as the appropriate focus of auteur analysis in television (Bruckheimer TV)

20 Additionally, auteur analysis can be open to the ‘So what?’ critique.
What is the social impact of the auteur? Can understanding the role of the auteur help us to better understand the role of art in culture? Can it provide a means to advance the artistry of film/TV/video games?

21 The ‘auteur’ designation can be too easily conferred
“Commercialization of authorship” Use of the famous name for marketing of properties Assign authorship to those who are most marketable Note: your reading on Bruckheimer TV addresses this issue Overly lenient view of necessary artistic input by fans of particular personalities?

22 New directions Move to include a wider range of personnel—actors, producers, screenwriters More attention to editing (with newer technologies directors have greater control) Interest in sound as part of creative production rather than focusing entirely on visual Analyses of more types of televisual media—television series, music, video games Cross-media auteurs

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