The Film Artist


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Gives a useful b/ground of the auteur theory as evidenced in Leo Baudry's Film Theory & criticism.

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  • The Film Artist

    1. 1. The Film Artist The Auteur Theory & Authorship From Film Theory & Criticism, Chapter 5, 6th Edition edited by Leo Braudy & Marshall Cohen
    2. 2. The Hollywood Studio System • Golden Era 1930-52: It resembled Henry Ford’s assembly line for the Model A Ford car. • How could Hollywood films be considered as ‘art’ when produced in a mechanised manner of such disparate contributions? • Film was not the expansion of art but the debasement of it...
    3. 3. Cahiers du Cinema- ‘On a Certain Tendency of French Cinema’ • Truffaut argued that the ‘signature’ of a film director (or artist) was discernible to critics who bothered to look. • The ‘auteristes’ at Cahiers du Cinema argued that Jacques Tati, Jean Renoir and Robert Bresson were all the equal of France’s literary tradition. later they expanded their analysis to America, German and the Soviet Union.
    4. 4. Peter Wollen • Argued that the true mark of an auteur was evident via analysis of the director’s style or basic motifs that would be sustained despite changes in cinematographer, script-writer etc.
    5. 5. Andrew Sarris (U.S.) • Sees authorship as a criterion of value and that ‘meaning’ is discernible in the work, either through style or in basic motifs. • Created a pantheon of great directors with 12 highlighted, including Chaplin, D.W. Griffith and Jean Renoir. (Cahiers du Cinema agreed) as well as reclaiming the work of Ford, Hawkes and Hitchcock.
    6. 6. Sarris (Cont) • Compare Sarris with Victor Perkins (U.K.) and a very different quality criterion. • Sarris responded to the general denigration of Hollywood by suggesting that artists were at work, even within the studio system. • Emphasised the importance of artistic control over the work as opposed to studio control (a contentious point)
    7. 7. Artist v Studio • At important times in their careers, Lubitsch, Renoir, Chaplin, Welles & Keaton all exercised artistic control and at other times, little control. other critics suggested that films from both eras offered qualities. • The extent to which their is a correlation between film quality and directorial control remained unclear.
    8. 8. Metteur-en-scene • Other facets of film language and method challenge auteur theory, as well as other production roles. • The metteur-en-scene (Wollen) films merely translated the script. • Eventually, critics have highlighted the importance of cinematographers, sound designers etc. (Kael v Bogdanovich)
    9. 9. The Star... • Roland Barthes suggested that Greta Garbo’s face is both the main object of interests and the main conveyor of meaning in most of the films in which she appeared. • Note how the early Russian formalist theory had completely ignored the importance of stars in favour of editing and ideology.
    10. 10. Richard Dyer- ‘Stars’ • Discusses the importance of stars and the circulation of their image through promotion, publicity, reinvention, press releases, fan based magazines, gossip magazines etc. • John Ellis suggested how they appeared to audiences as ordinary (magazines...especially in today’s mag’s) and extraordinary.
    11. 11. Molly Haskell • Pointed to female stars of the 40s who provided a POV which was capable of challenging a director’s or script writer’s needs. • Highlighted importance of Bette Davis, Rosalind Russell & Katharine Hepburn as all challenged audience sympathies associated with previous female stars.
    12. 12. Star/Director • Mae West, Clint Eastwood, Buster Keaton & Charlie Chaplin offered a symbiotic relationship between the star’s onscreen and offscreen persona, often writing the script or directing. • Chaplin even composed his own music...
    13. 13. Thomas Schatz • Suggests that the auteur theory has distorted American film history to a dozen or so ‘heroic directors.’ • Argues that if such a claim should be made, it should be to the producers within the system (e.g. David O. Selznick) who organise the collaboration and provide opportunities for artistry to take place.