Auteur Powerpoint

Auteur Theory
Daniel Taylor
Began in France in the 1950’s.
Concept originated from the magazine Cahiers du Cinéma.
Francois Truffaut, Andre Bazin, and Alexandre Astruc introduced
it to praise directors like Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, and
Jean Renoir.
Truffaut was a film critic and well-known director.
The idea was that an auteur would wield the camera and the other
filmmaking tools like an author wields a pens: with complete
creative control.
These critics championed directors that worked outside the
confines of studio interference and were complete artists.
The basis of auteur theory is
that one person is the
principal creative visionary
behind the work that is
The theory was initially
applied to film, but recently
is also applied to television.
In television the auteur is
not necessarily a director.
Could be producer or writer
or show runner.
Auteur Style
An auteur’s work will show similarities throughout their career.
Different projects will have a similar style, perhaps: use of lighting,
cinematography, editing techniques, and stylistic choices like slow
motion or musical motifs.
They may use similar actors or other collaborators.
They may work in similar genres, in film: John Ford made
westerns, Hitchcock made thrillers, and Preston Sturges made
The pieces may also have a similar tone that reflects the
personality of the auteur.
Example: David Fincher
Seven (1996)
Zodiac (2007)
Fincher cont…
The Curious Case of
Benjamin Button (2008)
The Social Network (2010)
Finding Meaning
The work of an auteur relates how they see the world.
Thematically and aesthetically.
Pessimism or optimism.
Religious, political, or cultural ideologies.
Relates something about the artists history: childhood/ upbringing,
influences, and interests.
The study of auteur theory is essentially the study of a person.
How their work connects to them personally and the world that they live in.
One can trace these nuances throughout an auteur’s career.
Makes room for something: different, innovative, subversive,
revolutionary, or satirical.
Auteurs don’t necessarily just give the people what they
want but challenge an audience with something perplexing.
In media, true creativity comes out of doing something
against the norm and against expectations.
Since auteurs are given liberty to create free of criteria or
stipulations there creative output is far more original.
Example: Jerry Seinfeld and Larry
Seinfeld and Curb Your
Biting Subversion.
Contrasts normal halfhour sitcoms.
Off-color with crueler
characters and humor.
Seinfeld: revolutionary.
Example: J.J. Abrams
Mostly action/adventure
Alias, Lost, Fringe.
Films: Cloverfield, Star Trek
Writer, Director, Producer,
and Composer.
Lost was revolutionary as far
as production scope and
complexity of story is
Example: Terence Winter
The Soprano’s, Deadwood,
and Boardwalk Empire.
Similar mature themes.
The business and personal
lives of criminals.
How the two interact.
Soprano’s changed television
and sky rocketed HBO.
Head writer, producer of
Boardwalk Empire.
Example: Aaron Sorkin
Head writer: Sports Night,
Studio 60 on the Sunset
Strip, and The West Wing.
“Walk and Talk.”
Large ensemble casts.
Hierarchy of power and
power struggles.
Personal issues such as drug
use show up in his work.
Example: Rob McElhenney
It’s Always Sunny In
Creator, Developer,
Writer, and Star.
His wife plays Dee.
Best friends play Charlie
and Dennis.
Use of improvisation and
location shooting.
Slightly crude and risque.
Abstract Concept
What is a true auteur?
Does an auteur have to write, direct, produce, star, and compose like:
Chaplin, Keaton, or Renoir.
When the creators of the idea came up with it they weren’t even sure.
There are differing thoughts on who is/was a pure auteur.
Do they even exist anymore or has studio control gotten too powerful
for anyone to create completely independent of it?
In television, is the battle for ratings too intense for auteurs to make
art purely for art’s sake, like they once could?
What do you think?
Works Cited
Stam, Robert. Film Theory: An Introduction. Wiley-Blackwell, New
York. 2000. Pg. 6 and 7.
Wexman, Virginia Right. Film and Authorship. Rutgers University
Press, New Jersey. 2003. Pg. 21
Kinn, Gail, and Jim Piazza. Four Stars Movies: the 101 Greatest Films of
All Time. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2004. Print.
O'Donnell, Victoria. Television Criticism. Los Angeles: Sage
Publications, 2007. Print.
Thompson, Kristin, and David Bordwell. Film History: an Introduction.
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2010. Print.

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