Auteur Theory is a theory of filmmaking in which the director of a movie is considered the main source of creativity. The idea was born in France in the late 1940s and is termed as an enhancement of the theories given by Andre Bazin and Alexandre Astruc. This theory resulted in the founding of the cinematic movement New Wave where directors were given the same importance as authors. It was because directors decide how a movie is going to be presented in front of the audience. They decide which actors are going to act and where the shoots shall take place.
Two major theoreticians of Auteur Theory later became important directors from the New Wave Movement. The theory was derived from the notion given by Astruc regarding the concept of camera-pen. The theory says that the director is responsible for the audio and video elements of the movie which makes him or her the main author. The director chooses to control most of the elements of a film and therefore is held responsible if it fails to convey the message of the film. The message of the movie is conveyed by niche segment camera placement, lighting, scene length, etc. These all aspects are under the control of the director of a film.
People who support the Auteur Theory always give examples of certain movies which are good and have the signature of the director throughout the movie. The French New Wave movement propagated the concept of Auteur Theory and established the director as an artist. The idea was not invented by the movement but it was helpful in popularizing it. Art movements in various parts of the world gave rise to various theories related to filmmaking which changed the world of visual films. Auteur Theory is such a theory which credits and criticizes the director for a failure or success of a movie.
Auteur is a term which is loved by movie review lovers all over the world. Auteur Theory was proposed in response to the industrialization of movies in the United States of America. Auteur is the French translation of the word ‘author’. The theory is used for those directors who tend to exert a full control over the making of a film. Auteur directors are found all over the world and they are different from each other. The aspects on which these directors focus is writing, editing and acting. Director Francois Truffaut came out with the theory and spoke about it in Cinema Notebook.
Francois Truffaut spoke in Cinema Notebook about Auteur Theory and named various directors who observe the theory. He made distinctions between auteur directors and the directors of the mainstream movies by mentioning that the latter followed the script made by other authors. These directors are dependent on these scripts and do not take risks of modifying the script of the movie. Directors who are confident of their skills and consider themselves as captain of the film do not fear taking risks with the script and follow the Auteur Theory. The French New Wave gave rise to several auteur directors. The effects of the theory can be seen in the filmmaking of the 21st century as well.
Francois Truffaut said that the best movies were those which were written and directed by the directors of the movies. They have a unique and personal vision for their films. Auteur directors write and direct their own movies try to explore the subject of the movie deeply. They try to answer the questions raised by the film. On the other hand, contemporary directors reflect the scripts written by other authors. At most, they take the help of paper editors to edit some portions of the script instead of doing it themselves. This is how auteur directors can be separated from the usual directors.
There are three components of Auteur Theory. These are technical competence, distinguishable personality and interior meaning. Auteur directors must know about various technicalities that go into filmmaking. Auteur directors should have a unique personality and style. These factors should reflect in the movies they make. There are several Auteur directors whose films are masterpieces and are very different from the other films in the world. It is different from the mainstream directors who simply translate the script into movies. Movies made by Auteur directors have several meanings and presents the human conditions. They are complicated and therefore, requires patience and understanding.
The Auteur Theory shows that directors are artists and therefore, some of them tend to exert artistic control over their movies. Some auteur directors were Scorsese, Lynch, Kurosawa, etc. Their films have a signature and an identity that uniquely belong to them. These identities can be understood by studying the settings and themes of their films. Auteur filmmaking started in France in the 1940s when directors made low-budget but meaningful movies. The term ‘Auteur Theory’ was coined by a film critic from USA named Andrew Sarris who took the idea from the notions of Andre Bazin and Alexandre Astruc. These two directors said that filmmaking was an expensive affair in the aftermath of the World War II.
Till Auteur Theory was proposed, studios used to hire directors for their work. The head of the studio instructed the directors to make films according to his vision. That is why the signatures of directors cannot be seen in very old movies. However, Charlie Chaplin is an exception who used to control the making of his films during that time. He used to look after the script, production designing, etc. of his movies. That helped Charlie Chaplin to show his comedic skills to the audience and make him a popular figure in the Western cinema. Charlie Chaplin is a good example of an auteur artist.
Hence, it can be seen that Auteur Theory comes into existence during the New Wave Movement in France. The term was coined by a US film critic, Andrew Sarris who was inspired by the ideas of Andre Bazin and Alexandre Astruc. Auteur means author in English. Auteur directors are known to be the creative heads of their movies.
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