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Lesson 12: Film Authorship Professor Aaron Baker.

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1 Lesson 12: Film Authorship Professor Aaron Baker

2 2 Previous Lecture What is Genre? Genre History Social Functions of Genre Films Genre and Out of Sight (1998)

3 3 Today’s Lecture Central Ideas, the History of Film Authorship Filmmaker Mira Nair The Namesake (2006)

4 Part I: Central Ideas and The History of Film Authorship 4 John Ford

5 Auteurism Auteur = Author Post WW II French Cultural Formation: -Magazines, Festivals, The Cinemateque, Cine Clubs Existentialism -Holocaust/Absurd World -Individual Recreates It 5 HENRI LANGLOIS, CO- FOUNDER OF CINEMATHEQUE FRANÇAISE in Paris in 1936, the world’s first film archive.

6 Andre Bazin Individual Must Create Own Meaning in Absurd World “The centrality of the activity of the subject” Film Director as Auteur (Creative Subject) 6

7 Film Can Be Art Alexander Astruc French Director, Critic Camera Stylo (Pen) Filmmaker Like Writer Films Like Novels, Poems, Plays 7

8 Paris Film Critics Francois Truffaut, Jean Luc Godard Reject French Cinema of Quality Too Literary, Elitist Prefer Hollywood Energy, Lack of Pretention 8

9 Truffaut Essay, “A Certain Tendency of the French Cinema” 1954 French Cinema relies too much on literature, adaptation Film Authors, “often write their dialogue and some of them themselves invent the stories they direct.” 9

10 Auteurist Critics Championed Cinema Rejected Snobbish, Elitist French Intellectuals Devaluing Movies as Just -Entertainment -For the Masses -Hollywood Mind Control 10

11 Style and Themes Reveals Auteur’s “Personality” (View of World) Stylistic and Thematic Patterns Subtext in Hollywood Films 11

12 Hitchcock Hollywood Filmmaker with Auteur Subtext French Critics Rohmer and Chabrol: -Hitchcock’s “transfer of guilt” 12

13 Stam: Auteurism Combines: Idea Romantic Artist (Individual, Outsider) Modernist Focus on Form, Style Post Modern Celebration of Popular Culture 13

14 Norman Bates in Psycho, 1960 Nice Young Man and Killer Hitchcock Asks Us To Identify with Him, His Voyeurism Transfer of Guilt... to Us. 14

15 French Auteurist Critics and Filmmakers Ambivalence Toward Hollywood: -Like Hollywood Energy, Lack Pretention -Dislike Its Obsession with Profits Over Art, Society 15 Jean Luc Godard and Brigette Bardot On the set of Le Mepris (1963)

16 Clip #1: Le Mepris (1963) Jean-Luc Godard Film About Filmmaking International Production: American Producer (Jack Palance) German Director (Fritz Lang) French Writer, Actress (Michel Piccoli, Brigette Bardot)

17 American Critic Andrew Sarris Brought French Auteurism to U.S. Notes on The Auteur Theory in 1962 U.S. Films Best in World Great Hollywood Directors Transcend Studio System Pantheon 17

18 Auteurism and Society “The individual transcends society, but society is also... within him. So there can be no criticism of genius or talent which does not take into consideration the social determinism.” --Bazin 18

19 Talent and Context Most complete analysis recognizes, a director’s individual talent, and the cultural and social environments in which s/he works. “The concept of an author as a genius outside history, who possesses profound, universal insights,...is now... outdated” (Lehman and Luhr, Thinking About Movies, p. 77). 19

20 20 Lee has made films with a distinctive formal style, yet they have been influenced by ideas of race in the movie industry and within American society. E.g. Spike Lee, Style and Race

21 Clip #2 from Do the Right Thing (1989) Story about Racial Conflict in Brooklyn Direct Address, Wide Angle Lens = Distorted Thinking About Other Racial Groups 21

22 Stagecoach 1939 Native Americans as “Savages” 1950s, 60s Civil Rights/New Ideas of Race in American Society Cheyenne Autumn 1964 Shows Abuse of Native Americans by Whites 22 John Ford and Native Americans

23 Auteurism: Main Assumptions 23 Film can be art Involves the contributions of many people, but a skilled director shapes, selects, organizes them Analysis of film authorship starts with thematic concerns and formal style of the moviemaker.

24 24 He has excelled with special effects portrayal of the fantastic... Form in Spielberg’s Films

25 Spielberg’s Thematic Concerns “with family dramas of divorce, single- parent homes, and the precarious formation of romantic couples.” (Lehman and Luhr, p. 80). 25 Catch Me If You Can (2002)

26 26 Summary: Style, Theme and Context Summary: Style, Theme and Context Authorship analysis studies filmmakers’ careers “ with definable thematic and formal concerns within historically specific cultural and social conditions.” (Lehman and Luhr, p. 97).

27 Part II: The Films of Mira Nair 27

28 28 Thematic Concerns Globalized World Indian Culture/Diaspora Equality for Women

29 Career as Filmmaker Born in India in 1957 Educated at Harvard Eight features, including-- -Salaam Bombay! 88 Nominated for Oscar -Monsoon Wedding 01 -Vanity Fair 04 -Amelia 09

30 The Namesake (2006) Based on novel by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003) Pulitizer Prize Winner Indian Diasporic Identity

31 Indian Disapora Traditional Indian Culture Arranged Marriage Immigration and Opportunity Calcutta to New York Ph. D. in Engineering

32 Two Generations Bengali Parents: Ashoke, Ashima Indian-American Children: Gogol and Sonia 2 nd Generation Rebellion American or Indian Identity? Focus on Both Generations

33 Film Form and Global Identities Clip #3 India/U.S. Contrasting: -Colors -Landscape -Language -Music

34 Successful Children Parent’s Immigration Offers Children Education and Career Ashoke to Ashima: “the options are limitless” Gogol – Yale, Architect Wealthy American Girlfriend, Maxine

35 Father, Ashoke’s Death Gogol Realizes Value of Multiple Identities Language and Pluralism Again Colors and Cultural Difference Clip #4

36 Moushumi and Music Bengali, American, French Selfish? Clip #5: Verdi, “La Donna e mobile” Music and Gogol’s Choice Pearl Jam, “Once”

37 Music Also Defines Ashima’s Choice Immigration and Sacrifice Ashima’s Love for Classical Music Represents Her Choice to Return to India Bahri: “Music is of great significance in the film... [the] sound of rival cultures... generations in collision.” 13

38 Nair’s Women About disasporic Indian women in Nair’s films: “[They are] no longer content to fulfill dutifully their roles as custodians of tradition, these women might be said to betray a fragile social structure with their diversity of experiences and choices available to them.” --Deepika Bahri

39 Mississippi Masala, 1991 Mina (Sarita Choudhury) Lives in Mississippi Where Indian Family Owns a Hotel Has Relationship with Demtrius (Denzel Washington) Family Wants Her to Marry an Indian

40 Summary Film Authorship French Ideas of Auteurism -Film as Art -Director Unifies Film/Communicates Personality (World View) -Uses Style and Theme -Film Can Be Commercial and Meaningful

41 Summary Mira Nair as Global Auteur Her Themes: -Diasporic Indian Culture -Gender Roles Represented Through Mise-en-Scene (Color), Sound (Music), and Characters Choosing Hybrid Identities, Strong Women Resisting Traditional Roles The Namesake (2006)

42 Jonathan Rosenbaum: “Foreign movies have important things to teach us.... They’re proof positive that Americans aren’t the only human beings and that the decisions we make about how to live our lives aren’t the only options available.” Movie Wars, page

43 What We Learn from Nair’s Films Hybridity of Identity in Global World ( Example of Indian Diaspora) Value of Tradition (Family, Music, Food) Value of Modernity -Wealth from Work (Immigrant Experience) -Right of Women to Have Same Choices as Men

44 44 End of Lecture 12

45 Next Lecture The Art Film


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