Auteur Theory Daniel Taylor Origins 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. Foundation The basis of auteur theory is that one person is the principal creative visionary behind the work that is produced. 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 comedies. 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. Significance 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 David Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Biting Subversion. Contrasts normal halfhour sitcoms. Off-color with crueler characters and humor. Seinfeld: revolutionary. Example: J.J. Abrams Mostly action/adventure genre. 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 concerned. 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 Philadelphia. 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.