In your paper,Explain auteur theory.Describe, using Chapter 8 of the text as a reference, the criteria for what makes a director an auteur.Identify a director who meets the criteria posed by auteur theorySummarize briefly the ways in which this director meets those criteria using examples from at least two of the director’s films.Apply the lens of auteur theory in breaking down the director’s technical competence, distinguishable personality, and interior meaning using specific examples of his/her work (e.g., particular scenes or plot components).Analyze the specific ways in which filmmaking techniques, consistent themes, and storytelling distinguish your chosen director as an auteur among his/her peers.The Directors and Auteur Theory paperMust be 900 to 1200 words in length and formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center’s APA Style (Links to an external site.) resource.Must include a separate title page with the following:Title of paperStudent’s nameCourse name and numberInstructor’s nameDate submittedFor further assistance with the formatting and the title page, refer to APA Formatting for Word 2013 (Links to an external site.).Must utilize academic voice. See the Academic Voice (Links to an external site.) resource for additional guidance.Must include an introduction and conclusion paragraph. Your introduction paragraph needs to end with a clear thesis statement that indicates the purpose of your paper.For assistance on writing Introductions & Conclusions (Links to an external site.) as well as Writing a Thesis Statement (Links to an external site.), refer to the Ashford Writing Center resources.Must use at least two scholarly sources in addition to the course text.The Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed, and Other Credible Sources (Links to an external site.) table offers additional guidance on appropriate source types. If you have questions about whether a specific source is appropriate for this assignment, please contact your instructor. Your instructor has the final say about the appropriateness of a specific source for a particular assignment.To assist you in completing the research required for this assignment, view this Ashford University Library Quick ‘n’ Dirty (Links to an external site.) tutorial, which introduces the Ashford University Library and the research process, and provides some library search tips.Must document any information used from sources in APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center’s Citing Within Your Paper (Links to an external site.) guide.Must include a separate references page that is formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center. See the Formatting Your References List (Links to an external site.) resource in the Ashford Writing Center for specifications.I HAVE INCLUDED THE CHAPTER FROM THE TEXT ON AUTEUR THEORY. NEED ONE MORE SOURCE!!!!!!!!!
In your paper, Explain auteur theory.Describe, using Chapter 8 of the text as a reference, the criteria for what makes a director an auteur.Identify a director who meets the criteria posed by auteur t
8.3 Auteur Theory Mary Evans/Les Film Du Carrosse/PECF/PIC/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection French New Wave directors such as François Truffaut,whose set for the film Day for Night is pictured here,began as critics who championed the director as theauthor (auteur) of the film. Given the importance of the director’s role in the making of a movie andhow easily identifiable certain cinematic styles can be throughout the workof some directors, it is often convenient to discuss a film as though thedirector were the sole creator, like the author of a book. Auteur is theFrench word for author, and therein lies the meaning of auteur theory.When applied to film directing, auteur theory posits that the director isindeed the author of the film, imprinting it with her or his personal vision.This can be an excellent starting point for analyzing certain films, boththematically and stylistically, and is in fact exactly how the auteur theorygot started. Film critic and future director François Truffaut put forth thetheory in the French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma (Notebooks onCinema) in 1954. The theory gives enormous, almost total responsibility fora film’s success or failure (artistically, not at the box office) to the director. The theory was not, and is not, universally accepted. Film critics PaulineKael and Andrew Sarris kept a running feud going in various magazinesabout the validity of the theory well into the 1960s. Sarris championed it,while Kael, always opposed to the over-intellectualization of movies,attacked it, writing in Film Quarterly in 1963, “‘Interior meaning’ seems tobe what those in the know know. It’s a mystique—and a mistake” (p. 20).Film studies professor Raymond Haberski (2001) summarized Kael’sargument: “How was one to guess what art was and was not based on alogic that seemed hidden to all other critics?” (p. 129). (It is quaint, and somewhat romantic, to think back to a time when film critics weresuch an important part of the conversation regarding movies and their cultural impact.) When we apply auteur theory as the lens throughwhich we analyze films, we must always keep in mind that film is a visual art form, and it is therefore artistic. See Table 8.1 for examples ofsome directors who can be considered auteurs. Table 8.1: Notable auteur directors and key films D. W. Griffith The Birth of a Nation, Intolerance, Trueheart Susie, Broken Blossoms, Way Down East, Orphans of the Storm, America, Isn’t Life Wonderful?, The Battle of the Sexes, The Struggle Frank Capra American Madness, It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Lost Horizon, You Can’t Take It With You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Meet John Doe, It’s a Wonderful Life Alfred Hitchcock The Lodger, The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, Suspicion, Shadow of a Doubt, Spellbound, Notorious, Rope, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Family Plot John Ford The Iron Horse, Hangman’s House, Pilgrimage, The Informer, Stagecoach, The Grapes of Wrath, How Green WasMy Valley, They Were Expendable, My Darling Clementine, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Quiet Man, TheSearchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Akira Kurosawa No Regrets for Our Youth, Drunken Angel, Stray Dog, Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, The HiddenFortress, Yojimbo, High and Low, Sanjuro, Red Beard, Dersu Uzala, Kagemusha, Ran, Dreams Ingmar Bergman Sawdust and Tinsel, Smiles of a Summer Night, The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, The Magician, The VirginSpring, Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence, Persona, Hour of the Wolf, Shame, Cries and Whispers, Scenes From a Marriage, The Magic Flute, Fanny and Alexander Jean-Luc Godard Breathless, A Woman Is a Woman, Contempt, Les Carabiniers, My Life to Live, Band of Outsiders, A MarriedWoman, Le Petit Soldat, Pierrot le Fou, Masculine-Feminine, La Chinoise, Weekend, Tout va bien, Film Socialisme Michelangelo Antonioni Story of a Love Affair, Il Grido, L’Avventura, La Notte, Eclipse, Red Desert, Blowup, Zabriskie Point, The Passenger, Identification of a Woman David Lynch Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Dune, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, The StraightStory, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire Martin Scorsese Mean Streets, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Taxi Driver, New York, New York, The Last Waltz, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, After Hours, The Color of Money, The Last Temptation of Christ, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, TheAge of Innocence, Casino, Gangs of New York, The Departed, Shutter Island, Hugo, The Wolf of Wall Street Steven Spielberg Duel, The Sugarland Express, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1941, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. theExtra-Terrestrial, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, Indiana Jones andthe Last Crusade, Hook, Schindler’s List, Munich, A.I, War Horse Julie Taymor Titus, Across the Universe, The Tempest Spike Lee She’s Gotta Have It, School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, Crooklyn, Clockers, Girl 6, Bamboozled, Miracle at St. Anna, Oldboy Kathryn Bigelow Near Dark, Point Break, Strange Days, The Weight of Water, The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, Detroit Sofia Coppola The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, Somewhere, The Bling Ring, The Beguiled Sarris’s Definitions Despite the misgivings of Kael, one of the most influential American critics of the 20th century, the auteur theory is still a generally acceptedway of critiquing films. Sarris, who is credited with popularizing auteur theory in the United States, defined auteur theory in specific waysthat we will use here (see Figure 8.1), which others may or may not apply to their own understanding of what makes an auteur. Figure 8.1: Sarris’s guidelines for director asauteur Andrew Sarris outlined three specific ways to distinguish anauteur. Do you find that these guidelines can be applied to yourfavorite directors? Would you add any other guidelines? Technical Competence Sarris (1962) breaks the auteur theory into three concentric circles, the first of which is the outer circle, technical competence. It may seemobvious, but, at least according to Sarris, technical competence is one requirement of the auteur; he famously wrote, “A great director has tobe at least a good director” (as cited in Bordwell, 2001, p. 170). This is somewhat misleading, as the definition of “competent” is somethingthat is difficult to quantify. A director such as Michael Bay, who has directed Bad Boys, Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and The Rock, is technically proficient, even gifted, in that he blows things up in noisy and entertaining ways. This delights audiences; his filmshave made nearly $1.5 billion at the box office. Yet most serious critics would not consider him an auteur in the classic sense. If one holdsthem up to most standards of critical evaluation (for example, the truth test we discussed in Chapter 1), his movies simply aren’t that “good,”at least not good at rewarding in-depth analysis searching for deeper layers of meaning. Among films that he has directed or produced, criticshave given him a 6% positive rating on RottenTomatoes.com, a website that aggregates reviews from major critics around the country. On the other hand, there’s a director like Quentin Tarantino. His movies are just as technically good—and as distinctive—as Bay’s. But he isalso very much an idiosyncratic “author” of his films (he writes the scripts), marrying technical competence with a personal passion,providing a much more satisfying experience. Exceptions to this technical competence criterion are directors like Ed Wood (Glen or Glenda, Bride of the Monster, Plan 9 from Outer Space) and Dwain Esper (Narcotic, Maniac, Sex Madness), whose films have achieved cult status fortheir sheer incompetence as much as their peculiar twisted bizarreness. Yet many consider Wood and Esper to be auteurs, as they fit squarelyinto the nexus of Sarris’s criteria. Implicit in the analysis of technical competence, the overarching yet subjective rubric for distinguishing the work of an auteur from that of theaverage director, is artfulness—artistry, craft, aesthetic mastery. It is, of course, subjective—we each have different appreciations of andcriteria for artfulness—and there’s no universal right or wrong when judging a film’s artfulness. However, one thing that the films of auteurdirectors have in common is a cohesive aesthetic and thematic beauty (even if the subject is inherently ugly or violent, as is the case withTarantino’s films). This quality might be viewed as synonymous with style, but it is ultimately the glue that connects technical competence todistinguishable personality and interior meaning. At this point, we might revisit the truth test from Chapter 1 (see Table 8.2) and apply it to the work of directors in considering how they fit themodel of auteur theory. Table 8.2: Quick criteria for evaluating a film (or any work of art) Truth test Is the film true to itself? Does the film explore some deep truth about human nature? Goethe’s questions What is the filmmaker trying to say? How well was it said? Was it worth saying? Distinguishable Personality Courtesy Everett Collection Director Frank Capra is best known for hissympathetic portraits of ordinary Americans, such ashis film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (pictured).Many of his films made during the Great Depressioncapture a sense of enduring American values. Amonghis most popular works, Mr. Smith Goes toWashington portrays an optimism and idealism aboutthe political process, which may seem unfamiliar ornaïve to 21st-century audiences. A distinguishable personality is the middle circle in Sarris’s theory. Forinstance, the films of Alfred Hitchcock—one of the auteurs Truffautidentifies in his original essay—display an easily identifiable personality, orstyle, as we discussed earlier. They may be macabre, creepy, and sometimesdownright scary: Movies such Psycho, Rear Window, and North byNorthwest share a gleefully dark look at humanity, while at the same timemanaging to be tremendously entertaining. When considering a director’sbody of work, then, a distinct personality will often come to the fore. DavidLynch’s dark take on life in Eraserhead and Blue Velvet is one clear example;though often described as weird, his films are enjoyable and sometimesmoving through his use of humor and identifiable technique. As withHitchcock, Tarantino, Spielberg, Capra, and many others, audiencesapproach some directors’ films expecting certain things, because of theirtrack history. A flaw crops up in this “personality” aspect of the theory, however. How canwe explain a director like Danny Boyle, whose eclectic body of workincludes such diverse titles as Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, and 28Days Later? He willfully chooses to bounce from one genre to another tokeep himself interested. Thus, Boyle seemingly strikes down thedistinguishable personality aspect of the auteur theory. And yet all seriouscritics would consider Boyle, winner of an Academy Award for SlumdogMillionaire, a brilliant director. But is he an auteur? He certainly has greatcommand over his films, and they have a distinctive feel, though it’ssomewhat hard to describe; offbeat comes as close as any term to doing itjustice. The auteur theory is not always a perfect form for analyzing films,as Boyle and his work illustrate. Interior Meaning The least specific of Sarris’s terms, interior meaning—his third circle—would seem to involve the distinguishable personality spread over adirector’s collected works. What is she or he trying to accomplish? What is he or she trying to say? (Think back again to our truth test.) Sarrisisn’t really clear, so it’s left to others to try to sort it out. Some find Sarris’s insistence that it can’t actually be described in words to be a bitmuch, while recognizing that a common interior meaning is something that is felt by the viewer, the way a director’s personality is expressedthrough her or his films’ techniques, attitudes, and choices of subject material. Paul Thomas Anderson’s films Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, and There Will Be Blood are all compelling portraits of loneliness and obsession.One can trace this thread, this theme, throughout most of his films. This is an example of an auteur’s interior meaning. On the other hand, adirector like Michael Bay, who is renowned (and reviled) for his Transformers franchise and Pearl Harbor, is obviously a technically masterfuldirector with a very distinguishable personality, but the criticism is that his films privilege special effects and action over interior meaning.Certainly, the case can be made for any director’s interior meaning, but some directors demonstrate as much investment in the film’s messageas they do in its look and feel. © Paramount Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection Though Michael Bay is renowned for his technicalproficiency, his recognizable voice, and grandexplosions, it can be argued that his Transformersfilms lack interior meaning, thus challenging hisstatus as an auteur. Controversy and Debate Surrounding Auteur Theory As discussed previously, the auteur theory is far from foolproof, when itcomes to both making movies and analyzing them. There are simply toomany holes in the theory. As Pauline Kael points out, some great films aremade by directors who willfully show a disdain for what is commonlythought of as technical competence. (Kael, who died in 2001, might wellhave appreciated the do-it-yourself charms of a film like ParanormalActivity, which is filmed like a glorified home movie yet is still a powerfullyfrightening experience—in part because of the pseudo-amateur nature ofthe filmmaking.) Others decry the auteur theory on the basis of the collaborative nature ofmaking films. Why should the director be placed above the screenwriter orthe actors in terms of influencing the outcome of the movie? Therefore, it’snecessary to understand the auteur theory but not become controlled by it.Although an imperfect method of thinking about the director’s role, theauteur theory is still a valid and crucial one, recognizing the personalstamp that the best filmmakers put on their films, elevating them frommere entertainment to something more substantial. It is important to note that a film’s auteur need not necessarily be the director. Sometimes producers, screenwriters, or even actors have themost obvious and identifiable control over the films they’re involved with. Writer auteurs such as Joss Whedon, Charlie Kaufman, JohnHuston, Billy Wilder, and Preston Sturges, among others, have gone the next step to become directors or producers of their own scripts,whereas other non-director auteurs with power prefer to hire the writers, producers, directors, cinematographers, or actors who can helpachieve their vision. Some actors (e.g., Johnny Depp, Sylvester Stallone, and Mel Gibson) have the power to choose their own scripts, directors,and producers and thus might be considered just as much an auteur as a powerful director, whether or not they actually produce or directthemselves on screen. The following interaction further illustrates Figure 8.1 by applying auteur theory to three differentdirectors.
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