Auteur Theory


We watched the films several times, watched the director’s commentary and discussed auteur theory. However, we seemed to have lost a bit of that knowledge … so lets recap.

Auteur theory holds that a director’s films reflect that director’s personal creative vision, as if he/she were the primary “Auteur” (the French word for “author”). The auteur theory,  holds that the director, who oversees all audio and visual elements of the motion picture, is more to be considered the “author” of the film than is the writer of the screenplay. In other words, such fundamental visual elements as camera placement, blocking, lighting, and scene length, rather than plot line, convey the message of the film. Supporters of the auteur theory further contend that the most cinematically successful films will bear the unmistakable personal stamp of the director.

To be considered an auteur, a film-maker must have a body of work which can be analysed for ongoing themes and considerations, whether they occur intentionally or unintentionally. One example would be the theme of the distant father in Steven Spielberg’s work.

The most common examples given to support auteur theory are Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Jean-Luc Godard. Each presents a strong case, though perhaps the most well known example for modern filmgoers would be that of Tim Burton.

However, others working today such as Woody Allen, Francis Coppola, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, even Baz Luhrmann and the other directors of their stature are certainly auteurs.

Marqueestars believes that the auteur concept was quickly co-opted to refer principally to storyteller directors with their own distinctive personal vision. They believe that it is a far more romantic and compelling, but simplistic idea: the film director as Horatio Hornblower, almighty captain of his ship and master of the cinematic seas. It’s also much easier to sell a single “auteur” as part of a film’s ad campaign.In their words an auteur is seen as an outstanding filmmaker who could blow away the stuffy boredom of convention with a breath of fresh cinematic imagination.


Want to read more? Try How to recognise an Auteur.

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