Auteur Theory and Authorship


Outside of academic and other serious film writing and teaching, auteurism in relatively uncritical form has been much more obviously triumphant. Perhaps because it was always more critical—and evaluative—than theoretical, early auteurism was very readily assimilated into film journalism, relatively untroubled by later debates about the theoretical basis of authorship. In serious and even popular film journalism it is now generally and quite routinely taken for granted that directors are primarily responsible for films, no matter what country or system they might originate from. The period since the 1960s has been, effectively, the age of the director as superstar. In part, this reflects the triumph of the concept of the "director as auteur " not only in Europe and world cinema, but in commercial cinema—and not least Hollywood—as well. And this is a concept that the film industries themselves—including post-studio Hollywood, with agents putting together star-director-writer packages—have also bought into. The earlier, relatively neutral credit, "Directed by Joe Doakes," is now routinely replaced by "A film by Joe Doakes" or "A Joe Doakes film"—even when this might be Joe Doakes's first film—with legal copyright and "authorship" implications. In some senses, director- auteurs have taken the place of—or become the equal of—stars, cultivating auteur "brands." One has only to think of the ease with which we are invited to consider not only the Pedro Almodóvar or Michael Haneke or François Ozon "brands" but also, in different registers, the Spike Lee, David Lynch, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, John Sayles, Ridley Scott, or Steven Soderbergh "brands."

SEE ALSO Criticism ; Direction ; France ; Genre ; Great Britain ; Journals and Magazines ; Mise-en-scène ; New Wave

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Jim Hillier

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