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In 300-400 words, apply auteur theory to the films: Doodlebug (Christopher Nolan, 1997)

1Auteur TheoryAuteur

A film director whose personal influence and artistic control overhis or her films are so great that he or she may be regarded as theirauthor, and whose films may be regarded collectively as a body of worksharing common themes or techniques and expressing an individual styleor vision.Setting the sceneHistorically the notion of authorship conjured up the image of an isolated individual passionatelyworking to create bodies of art. Characters such as those in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! (2001)help perpetuate this romantic stereotype of the tortured Bohemian artist. When applying ideasof authorship to the field of Film Studies it is typically the director that is acknowledged as thecreative force. The term auteur is French for author and the word derives from the prefix ‘auto’,meaning one.The idea of a single controlling figure was acknowledged as early as the 1910s in the British fanmagazine Bioscope where certain directors were identified as special. Similarly, in Germany the termAutoren film was used, which also promoted the idea of the director as author. However, screenwriterscampaigned for their right to be recognized as the creative force and accordingly, the notionof authorship became increasingly complex. This debate from the 1910s continues to resonate acentury later and is one of the founding ideas of film theory.The idea that film is the sole work of a single contributor is problematic. Film is a collaborativeprocess and therefore to attribute control to the director above all others is contentious. The numberof people involved in producing a film is extensive: actors, writers, set designers, camera operators,musicians, financial backers, technical advisors, costume and make-up artists, editors, marketing anddistribution staff, and so on. To understand this debate fully, it is necessary to trace the emergenceand development of Auteur Theory and explore its complexity. These debates about the auteur wereinitiated by an influential text from filmmaker and novelist Alexandre Astruc.Astruc coined the term caméra-stylo, which literally translates as ‘camera pen’. He wanted to bringfilm into line with other kinds of art, namely raising its status from a working-class form of entertainmentto match that of opera, ballet, poetry, literature and fine art. His article ‘The Birth of aNew Avant-Garde: La Caméra-Stylo’ (1948) called for a new language in filmmaking. He posited thatthe camera should be used in the same way that a writer would use a pen. He rallied filmmakers tomove beyond institutionalized forms of cinema in favour of more personal ways of storytelling. Theemphasis that Astruc placed on the ‘personal’ has fuelled debate. The most vigorous participants inthis debate came from France.Chapter 1Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.2 UNDERSTANDING FILM THEORYThe Cahiers groupThe Cinémathèque Française in Paris was much more than a typical cinema, as it was home to agroup of enthusiasts who collectively sought to revolutionize cinema. Led by Henri Langlois, thegroup showed films throughout the day and night, attracting the attention of likeminded individuals.Their fascination in cinema instigated a forum for debate and experimentation. For example,they would watch films without any sound so that they could focus solely on the importance ofthe image. This fanaticism and attempt to comprehend the very essence of cinema resulted in twomajor developments in film history: the journal Cahiers du cinéma and the Nouvelle Vague/FrenchNew Wave school of filmmaking.These ‘filmoholics’ were often referred to as cinéphiles as they were obsessed with filmmaking.Among the key members of the group were:• André Bazin (theorist)• Claude Chabrol (New Wave director and writer)• Jean-Luc Godard (New Wave director, writer and theorist)• Henri Langlois (archivist)• Alain Resnais (New Wave director)• Jacques Rivette (New Wave director and writer)• Francois Truffaut (New Wave director, writer and theorist)• Roger Vadim (New Wave director and writer).From within this influential group of filmmakers and thinkers, Francois Truffaut energized thedebate with his article ‘Une Certaine Tendance du Cinéma Français’.François Truffaut‘Une Certaine Tendance du Cinéma Français’ (1954)Truffaut’s seminal text ‘Une Certaine Tendance du Cinéma Français’ signalled a radical shift in theauteur debate. He and his fellow cinéphiles found traditional French filmmaking conservative andunexciting. ‘Tradition de la qualité’ was the term used to describe films that were typically basedon adaptations of literary classics. The Cahiers group mocked this mode of production, calling it‘Cinéma du Papa’ (Dad’s cinema) as they felt it was stuffy and outdated. More importantly, this formof filmmaking privileged the role of the writer rather than acknowledging the director. In contrastto ‘tradition de la qualité’ they aspired to create films that spoke to their generation. Their intentionwas to attack the ideology of bourgeois culture.During World War II foreign imported films were limited due to the Nazi occupation of France.Post-war the influx of films, particularly from Hollywood, strongly inspired the Cahiers group. Inspite of studio stipulations, they recognized that certain directors’ films exhibited identifiable stylistictraits. As a result of these observations Truffaut developed ‘la politique des auteurs’ (auteur policy).It is important to establish that Truffaut never intended for his work to form the basis of a theory;Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.Auteur Theory 3Mise-en-scéneThe term mise-en-scéne literally translates as ‘put into the scene’. Originating from the theatre, itdescribes everything that appears in the frame. This can be divided into four specific components:1 set design (props and décor)2 lighting (and shadow)3 acting (movement and gesture, not dialogue)4 costume and make-upIn order to understand the importance of mise-en-scène in relation to Auteur Theory, it is necessaryto identify consistent stylistic traits across films to decide whether or not a director can be classedas an auteur.Tim Burton provides an interesting study, as his films have a distinctive aesthetic style. Considerthe films Sleepy Hollow (1999) and Big Fish (2003). The narratives in both films are located in thewoods, a typical trope found across Burton’s oeuvre, with the gnarled, eerie trees serving to createa foreboding atmosphere. The viewer is drawn into an uncomfortable world, as generically Burtonfalls between the two camps of Horror and Fantasy. This is enhanced by the artistic use of light andshadow to anticipate the arrival of nightfall and unspoken horrors.Burton owes a great debt to German Expressionism; this can be seen through the use of curves,the angular objects within the frame and the surreal nature of his storytelling. The lead protagonist,though central to the composition, is intimidated by the pervading forest. These elements of themise-en-scène combine to induce a sense of menace where man is pitted against nature, a recurringdynamic in Burton’s work.it represented a policy, an attitude and a critical approach to reading film. The two overriding principleshe put forward were:1 Mise-en-scéne is crucial to the reading of cinema and is essential in film analysis and criticism.2 T he director’s personal expression is key in distinguishing whether they should be afforded thetitle of auteur.Truffaut was concerned with the focus on film style (mise-en-scene and thematics) rather than filmplot (content).Reflect and respond1 How did the Cahiers group change the previous sense of the auteur?2 Why do you think Truffaut favours mise-en-scéne over other aspects of filmmaking?3 Can you identify any directors who are instantly recognizable due to the consistency inmise- en-scéne throughout their films?Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.4 UNDERSTANDING FILM THEORYIn addition to the importance of set design and lighting, the aesthetic consistency can also beapplied to Burton’s use of costume and make-up. A typical feature of an auteur is a director whouses the same actors time and time again. Throughout Burton’s career, Johnny Depp has been castin numerous leading roles. Despite the disparate characters Depp has played, Burton recycles anddevelops roles rather than abandoning characters. Sweeney Todd can be seen as an extension, andin many respects an inversion, of Edward Scissorhands. The naive, fearful and introverted characterfrom the 1990s is transformed into the cynical, murderous and predatory demon barber of FleetStreet; a ghost of his former self.To examine this in more detail it is appropriate to focus on costume and make-up. In both filmsDepp sports a dishevelled look with unkempt hair. Similarly, his black and white clothing is reminiscentof a Gothic, Romantic artist, a familiar motif woven throughout Burton’s repertoire. Thecostume is flamboyantly adorned with frills typical of swashbuckling heroes of old. Yet unlike withthe conventional heroes, the garments are crumpled and suggestive of neglect. The razor-sharpFigure 1.1 Sleepy Hollow (Tim Burton, 1999)Figure 1.2 The Nightmare Before Christmas (Tim Burton, 1993)Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.Auteur Theory 5fingers that were imposed on the earlier character of Scissorhands become a fundamental part ofTodd’s character and once more integral to the narrative. Similarly, in 2012, Dark Shadows has Deppwhite-faced, hollow-eyed, disheveled-hair and with long finger nails portraying a more comedicversion in a gothic setting of these characters.The consistency in design across Burton’s work is exemplified by the highly stylized look explicitin the mise-en-scène of his films. Figures 1.1 and 1.2 exemplify tropes discussed earlier; extreme useof light and shadow, curves and angles, influence of both German Expressionism and the Gothic.Furthermore, the compositions of the images are incredibly similar. In 2010, Alice in Wonderlandexhibited Burton’s distinctive mise-en-scène bringing a darker twist to the original book. These imagesreflect Burton’s consistent preoccupation with the macabre. His use of dark tones, spooky landscapesand scary objects provide an appropriate backdrop for his Gothic tales. These have become synonymouswith his oeuvre.Personal filmmakingAnother facet of the auteur argument is the notion of directors pursuing projects that hold personalsignificance. These personal aspects can manifest in many forms, such as political, social andcultural. For example, Spike Lee is typically drawn to narratives about race and Martin Scorsese isinterested in Catholicism.To continue with Burton as an illustration, it can be seen that the theme of childhood isolationis pertinent within his films. As a child Burton was estranged from his parents, living with hisgrandmother from the ages of 12 to 16. During this period he sought solace by escaping into hisimagination, which was fuelled by fairytales and classic monster movies. Burton identified with themonster rather than the hero as he was himself a loner. He states:Every kid responds to some image, some fairy-tale image, and I felt most monsters were basicallymisperceived, they usually had much more heartfelt souls than the human characters aroundthem. My fairy-tales were probably those monster movies, to me they’re fairly similar. (Salisbury,2006, p.3)The film Edward Scissorhands (1990) is probably his most autobiographical to date and Miss Peregrine’sHome for Peculiar Children (2016) shows Burton returning to the theme of the outsider child. WhilstDepp is no longer the young hero, the similarity with Asa Butterfield (Jake) as the lead protagonistis hard to miss. The unlikely hero of the narrative can be seen as Burton’s alter ego. The resemblanceto these main characters is also evident in Burton’s physical appearance. He is often photographedlooking awkward in crumpled suits and with long, tousled hair. The link between personal experienceand filmic storytelling in Edward Scissorhands and many of his other films exemplifies therecurring sentiment in Burton’s work.In addition to thematic consistency, directors can also include personal signatures within theiroeuvre. This can consist of a visual motif that is repeated across a body of texts. Earlier we discussedBurton’s Gothic mise-en-scène as an illustration of a personal signature. Another example can befound in the films of Spike Lee, in which he places an actor on a dolly with the camera. The effectis that the character appears to float rather than walk and this technique is instantly recognizableas Lee’s signature.The importance of mise-en-scène and a director’s personal signature are fundamental to the auteurdebate. The ideas of the Cahiers group and Truffaut in the 1950s were taken up and complicated byAndrew Sarris, an American critic writing in the 1960s.Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.6 UNDERSTANDING FILM THEORYMetteur-en-scèneThe term metteur-en-scène was first coined by André Bazin, another Cahiers writer. A metteur is differentfrom an auteur in that the former is a competent, and often very good, technician. Whereas anauteur can make a good movie out of a poor script, a metteur-en-scène would struggle; they merelyadapt material given to them rather than making it their own. In other words, they may exhibitsome of the attributes associated with an auteur but lack the extra depth involved.ProductionAnother area for consideration is the budget that a director is able to secure. It does not necessarilyfollow that a large budget is an indication of auteur status; in fact the reverse can often be true. Adirector could be successful working in a specific genre and therefore accrue monetary backing asAndrew Sarris‘Notes on the Auteur Theory’ (1962)Sarris is most famous for mistranslating Truffaut’s ‘La Politique des Auteurs’ as Auteur Theory.Although it is predominantly referred to as a theory, it should be considered as a device for readingfilm. Sarris starts his essay by pointing out the flaws in Truffaut’s thesis. He questions whether adirector can be the author of a film and therefore solely responsible for its distinctive quality. Hecontinues by stating that Auteur Theory ‘makes it difficult to think of a bad director making a goodfilm and almost impossible to think of a good director making a bad one’ (Sarris, 1962, p.561).Sarris discussed his interpretation of Auteur Theory in terms of concentric circles (see diagram):‘The outer circle as technique; the middle circle, personal style; and the inner circle, interior meaning’(p.563). He believed that for a director to reach the status of auteur, they would have to beaccomplished in all areas. Most important, for Sarris, is the inner circle. Many directors are ableto achieve the outer circles but if a filmmaker’s work consistently attains ‘interior meaning’, thiswould suggest it is the work of an auteur. Here Sarris raises the important debate concerning themetteur-en-scène.techniquepersonal styleinterior meaningDoughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.Auteur Theory 7future projects are likely to be commercially successful. In contrast, many auteurs work outside themainstream studio system and accordingly struggle to attract financial support. Often in the case ofthe latter, big-name actors appear in films at a reduced fee as they are more interested in the criticalacclaim that can be gained from working with such a director. For example, Tom Cruise worked withPaul Thomas Anderson on the film Magnolia (1999) and, more recently, Duncan Jones, son of DavidBowie, managed to acquire the vocal talent of Kevin Spacey for his film Moon (2009) as the voice ofthe robot companion, GERTY.Interestingly, this leads to another aspect of the auteur debate. Moon was Duncan Jones’s debutfilm. Although it has been critically praised, we cannot deduce whether Jones qualifies as an auteurbecause he has yet to make a large body of films. It begs the question: Does a director have toproduce a certain number of films before they can be ascribed the status of auteur? Or should artisticability be measured by quality rather than quantity? This is one of many obstacles that problematizethe issue of authorship.Problematizing the auteurPauline Kael was one of the most outspoken critics to debunk the ideas of Auteur Theory. In responseto Andrew Sarris’s idea of ‘concentric circles’, she published a vitriolic attack entitled ‘Circles andSquares’ (1963). Here she methodically critiqued the notion of the ‘Outer, Middle and Inner Circles’.Kael’s assault was loaded with saracasm and suspicion, for example, she states:It is an insult to an artist to praise his bad work along with his good; it indicates that you areincapable of judging either. […] It’s like buying clothes by the label: This is Dior, so it’s good. (Thisis not so far from the way the Auteur critics work, either). (p.16)Putting Kael’s concerns aside, one of the main criticisms of the director as author is that film is acollaborative process involving an eclectic team of artisans, whose input is ignored when applyingthe theory. Peter Wollen refers to the additional layers of film production as ‘noise’ (Caughie, 1981,p.143). He stated that viewers have to separate the ‘voice’ of the director from superfluous ‘noise’.Wollen was referring to other forms of interference such as input from actors, producers and cameraoperators. Once more this emphasizes the personal, distinctive vision of the director and asks theaudience to be active in locating and hearing a continued narrative. Conversely, what he dismissesas superfluous ‘noise’ can be privileged as an alternative to the vision of the director. Here we willconsider four possible candidates for the role of auteur in order to further the debate on authorship:1 ActorThe actor has a unique presence within a film, not only on screen but also as a marketing tool toattract an audience. Films are more frequently advertised using the name of the star rather than thatof the director. For example, the Alien franchise has seen a whole host of directors (Ridley Scott,James Cameron, David Fincher and Jean-Pierre Jeunet), yet it may be more pertinent to considerSigourney Weaver in terms of consistency regarding authorship. Furthermore, certain stars havethe respect to ensure a film is realized. For example, Alejandro Amenábar’s Abre los Ojos/Open YourEyes (1997) was remade as Vanilla Sky (Cameron Crowe, 2001) due to Tom Cruise’s enthusiasm forthe Spanish film. Similarly, Tom Hanks was highly influential in bringing the film My Big Fat GreekWedding (Joel Zwick, 2002) to the screen. Additionally, some actors have made the transition intodirecting, for example, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson and Kevin Costner.Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.8 UNDERSTANDING FILM THEORY2 CinematographerOne of the main preoccupations in discussions of the director as auteur is the focus on visual style.The responsibility for style often lies behind the camera. The selection of specific angles and depth offield influences the spectator’s understanding of an entire scene. Furthermore, they are responsiblefor whether the film has a realistic, gritty aesthetic or a more vibrant and saturated tone. Therefore,the cinematographer is key to the overall look of the film and could be considered an auteur. Forexample, Gordon Willis is often accredited for capturing the brooding atmosphere of the Godfatherfilms. Interestingly, in America they are known as the ‘director of photography’ (DP). There arecertain directors who have also undertaken this role, for example, David Lean and Lars von Trier;however, these are exceptions.3 WriterThis is possibly the most problematic category. If we consider The Lord of the Rings: J. R. R. Tolkienpenned the original books; Peter Jackson directed the franchise (2001–3); yet it was Fran Walsh andPhilippa Boyens, with Peter Jackson, who wrote the screenplay. This clearly calls the idea of authorshipinto question. The British director Richard Curtis believes that it is paramount that a writer ispart of the filmmaking process because:A film is made at least four times. Once in the writing. Then in the shooting, which is the secondfilm. Then in the editing, which is the third film. Then there might be a fourth film … losing bitsthat you love. … The screenplay is only the beginning. (Owen, 2003, p.96)However, Curtis’s belief is not necessarily the norm. Some writers have been barred from any inputonce the book has been purchased. This will be examined more closely in the Adaptations chapter.4 ComposerMany directors work repeatedly with the same composers: Steven Spielberg with John Williams,Sergio Leone with Ennio Morricone, Tim Burton with Danny Elfman. Therefore much of thedistinctive style associated with these directors is reliant on this collaborative process. The score andsoundtrack are once again integral to audience interpretation.These four ways of discussing authorship signal a move away from Truffaut’s Politique; this ideawas further complicated by the work of Roland Barthes.Roland Barthes‘Death of the Author’ (1968)Roland Barthes was a theorist, critic and writer on cultural and social meaning. His seminal text‘Death of the Author’ was written for literary criticism. However, a look at his ideas will show howthey are easily applied to questions of authorship in film. According to Barthes, Western cultureplaces too much emphasis on the creative force; assigning meaning of the text to the author. Hechallenged this tradition by giving preference to the reader. He maintained that it was the readerDoughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.Auteur Theory 9who gave a text meaning. The reader is the interpreter and there can never be one definitive readingof a text, be it film or literature. We all interpret information in different ways.In order to fully appreciate messages contained in a work, it would be necessary to have knowledgeof an author’s intended purpose. But this author-centred approach closes down the full rangeof possible meanings. The traditional notion of the author needs to be reviewed. The onus instead isplaced firmly on the reader/viewer, as they need to engage with the material and become an activereader. Whereas the passive reader allows information to be absorbed without any conscious effort,the active reader will question and challenge the text. This allows an endless play of meaning; thetext is no longer closed but instead remains open. However, interpretation may be endlessly ‘open,’but at the same time there are certain culturally normative ways of reading and interpreting texts(see Chapter 5: Structuralism and Post-Structuralism, Mythologies, p.95). Yet, in terms of the auteurdebate, the ‘death of the author’ leads to the ‘birth’ of the reader.Reflect and respond1 T o what extent do you agree or disagree with the ideas of Barthes?2 It is now common to speak of a Scorsese or a Tarantino film. What characteristics would youexpect to see in a film by either of these two directors?3 Can a film’s meanings be attributed to a single creative source?4 Why do we place so much emphasis on ‘authorship’? Why do audiences and critics continue towant a cinematic author?5 Can you name any famous cinematographers, composers, editors or other technical crewmembers? If not why is this?6 Is Auteur Theory now an outdated mode of analysis for Film Studies? If yes, what are the alternatives?Michel Foucault was an eminent French philosopher, historian and literary critic. He wrote extensivelyon post-structuralist and postmodernist theories. ‘What is an Author?’ was originally given asa lecture in 1969, and although not explicitly stated, appears as a response and criticism of RolandBarthes ‘Death of an Author’. Both agreed that the ‘author’ was a contrived historical phenomenonwhich had gained heroic status. But Foucault’s approach is very different from that of Barthes.Michel FoucaultWhat is an Author? (1977)As would be expected, the notion of an author originally started with literature and much writingon this has and continues to concentrate on literary texts. However, the idea of authorship has relevanceto Film Studies and in order to make this summarizing of Michel Foucault’s essay both clearand useful, this section focuses on the areas that can have meaning for film in order to streamlineall the many diversions and varied texts he offers from scientific treatise, law, medicine, biography.Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.10 UNDERSTANDING FILM THEORYHis essay evolves through asking a series of questions about the writers’ texts in an historical anddiscursive framework.Foucault’s essay developed from a lecture he gave in 1969 which in part appears to questionRoland Barthes’ essay, ‘Death of an Author’ (1967). Foucault looks at issues that surround thefunction of an author’s name and what that name signifies. He questions in this essay the need totrace ideas back to specific authors and why the need to insist that ideas and concepts, and literaryworks are attributed to the creation of a single individual? Rather than the ‘death of the author’,Foucault suggests that it is or should be a voluntary disappearance into the created work, therebyavoiding theories of authorship that place the author as the ‘sole creator of meaning’. Similar toSamuel Beckett he is asking, does it matter who is speaking? (Begam, 1996, p.121). However, heappears to suggest that by writing about the privileged position of the author and by challengingthis position, Barthes et al. may be preserving the authorial position.If theories on the ‘death of the author’ are used, Foucault suggests that there is a need to questionthe importance of the space that arises from not having a recognized author, and to just ’repeatempty slogans’ (p.121) is not enough. One possibility he considers is that it allows for the ‘birth’of the reader/audience and their part in finding significance in the work. In doing this, we shouldunderstand a work through analyzing its form and content. Although, before this, a decision mustbe made as to what constitutes a ‘work’, taking the context of the author into consideration. Hesites by way of example, should jottings or shopping lists, found in an author’s papers, be excludedor taken as part of the author’s work? (pp.118–19). In filmmaking we could liken this to scenes thatdo not make the final cut; is this part of the director’s oeuvre? This becomes more complex whenDVDs containing the ‘Director’s cut’ have become a main item of the DVD.Where Foucault agrees with Barthes is that the ‘Author’ is a historical creation that has gainedmythological and heroic status, but then they differ. In this point, Foucault does not think there isa need to ‘kill’ the author, as he believes that it is inevitable that the notion of author will cease.In connection with this, he explains the historical ideas of ownership of a work as these have significantlychanged over time. In this connection, Foucault discusses what he calls the ‘author-function’(p.123) that is not constant in all discourses. Ancient literary texts such as myths and folk tales forexample, did not and do not need to have an author to be thought of as worthy. Their age aloneis guarantee of authenticity. Into the Middle Ages medical and historical texts were only consideredworthy if they had an author, namely work from ancient Greek and Roman writers such asHippocrates and Pliny (p.125). Then, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, written worksbecame a property that could be appropriated when strict copyright laws were introduced andrequired an assigned author. At a similar time, ideas changed as a guide to the truthfulness of thework and authorless scientific texts were accepted on merit, whereas a literary text was acceptedonly if it had an author’s name, as readers clambered to know the author of a text (p.126), somethingthat occurs till this day.In his aims to challenge authorships’ role in literature, Foucault believes that more than theauthor’s name on multiple texts is required in order to distinguish that these may all be the work ofthe same writer. He draws on Saint Jerome’s four criteria as a possible test in order to substantiatethe authenticity of texts that bear the name of the same author (p.128).1 ‘[T]he author is defined as a standard level of quality’ requires that work that appears to beinferior is eliminated from the selection.Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.Auteur Theory 112 ‘[T]he author is defined as a certain field of conceptual or theoretical coherence’ removes ideasand theoretical positions that fails to chime with the author’s oeuvre as a whole.3 ‘[T]he author is seen as a stylistic uniformity’ this would eliminate work written in a differentmanner using words and phrases not found in other works by the author.4 ‘[T]he […] referring to events or historical figures subsequent to the death of the author’requires an awareness of anachronism where the author refers to objects or events that were notinvented or had not occurred before the death of the author (p.128).The first three of these points may usefully be applied to film directors, screenwriters, art directionand cinematography. For example, Spike Lee’s Oldboy is regarded as inferior as it doesnot address African American issues. Stylistically there is no dialogue between the film and theoriginal and there was no need for a remake. Because of these negative attributes Lee’s film isignored.Whilst Foucault has discussed reducing the privileged position of the author he still recognizedwriters might affect an influence greater than any one book they may have written. He uses theexample of Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho, that is generally acclaimed as the first GothicRomance (1794), engendering and creating a space for all that has followed since in that genre(p.132), the influence of which can be seen in films such as Interview with the Vampire (Neil Jordan,1994) and the Twilight franchise (2008–12). Similarly, Freud and Marx, ‘made possible certainnumber of analogies that could be adopted by future texts, but they also made possible … [and]cleared a space for the introduction of elements other than their own’ (p.132), thereby setting outa whole new area of psychological investigation from Freud’s writing and with Marx an ideologicalplatform.By the end of ‘What is an Author’ it is clear Foucault set out to complicate the notion of whatit means to be an author rather than provide answers. He does not offer solutions, but indicatessome of the difficulties that it presents. This produces a list of problems associated with the use ofthe author’s proper name.Today criticism of literary works has widened its focus to include many other forms of analysis nolonger dependent on authorship alone (p.126). Yet he believes that other concepts such as genre,as a means of studying a work, are less useful and finds that authorship theory allows for a moreclosely defined understanding of the work(s) when attributed to a single author.Foucault asserts that in order to understand a text, the relationship between the text and author(or lack of relationship) needs to be established. But at the same time he opposes this concept andcalls for a culture without the necessity of authorship. With this in mind he suggests that, ‘We shouldreexamine the empty space left by the author’s disappearance [… and] consider the problems thatarise in the use of the author’s name’ (p.121). Later, in a contradictory manner, he does howeveracknowledge that if we accept the author as the sole producer of meaning within a work, we maybe able to understand the text more completely (p.136). Foucault longs for the day when a work’simportance is governed by its content, not by who is speaking, and although he contemplates themoment that he believes will one day come, where the author function will disappear, his piecedoes not negate the need for one (p.138).Film as a collaborative art has less clearly delineated authorship lines and for this reason the ‘New’questions that Foucault hoped would be discussed rather than those of authorship have a strongerresonance (p.138). In a resigned manner, he reiterates ‘What matter who’s speaking?’ This is aquestion audiences and academics need to address.Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.12 UNDERSTANDING FILM THEORYTimothy CorriganThe Commerce of Auterism: A Voice Without Authority (1990)Whereas debates regarding authorship have traditionally been tied up with notions of artistry,Timothy Corrigan was one of the first academics to introduce the question of economics. Whenattributing auteur status to a director, we typically consider certain elements such as recurringformal traits, thematic consistency and ‘interior meaning’ across a body of films. Corrigan suggeststhat we need to re-think this approach in light of how the industry has changed; instead we shouldsee the auteur as a ‘commercial strategy’ (p.46).Corrigan complicates the field of auteur studies in introducing the concept of the ‘auteur as star’(p.48). Here, he posits that a director can be considered ‘as a kind of brand-name vision whosecontextual meanings are already determined’ (p.45). By this, he is suggesting that we have preconceivedideas of what a ‘Tarantino film’ looks like. Similarly, we will have an inkling about the kind ofmovie we are paying for when we go to watch a ‘David Fincher’ production. This is because thesedirectors have earned a reputation based on the consistency of their films. More importantly, thesedirectors have gained celebrity status as a result of their filmmaking oeuvre and this informs the wayin which their new outputs are consumed.The director as celebrity is not a new phenomenon. Corrigan attributes this level of prominenceto both Orson Welles and Robert Bresson. He explains that this recognition of celebrity linked toauthorship creates a ‘certain textual distinction’ to any films produced (p.48). In modern times, thisequates more specifically to the marketing and reception of such films. Accordingly, Corrigan statesthat ‘the auteur [should be considered] as a commercial strategy for organizing audience reception,as a critical concept bound to distribution and marketing aims’ (p.46). This suggests that the waya film is received both critically and by the general public, is ultimately tied to our knowledge andbranding of the ‘star as auteur’.Even when a director falls short in terms of quality or overarching vision, the ‘star auteur’can typically be forgiven due to his or her celebrity. Corrigan claims ‘the auteur-star can potentiallycarry and redeem any sort of textual material through the marvel of its agency’ (p.49).Whereas in the past the spectator and critic would consider the camera as a pen (camera stylo)in relation to aesthetic traits, nowadays, the personality of the auteur can override such fixationson artistry. Therefore, it can be argued that it is no longer artistic vision that signifies a greatfilm text; instead once a director has gained celebrity status as an auteur, film production canbecome a matter of commerce. For example, Ang Lee best known for his period dramas suchas Sense and Sensibility (1995) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), went on to makeThe Hulk (2003). The film was poorly received but Lee soon returned with the award-winningBrokeback Mountain.More recently, auteur studies has developed in response to directors that manage to gain ‘star’ status.Here, Timothy Corrigan’s article ‘The Commerce of Authorship’ helps shed light on the director ascelebrity or ‘brand’.Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.Auteur Theory 13Case study: Alfred HitchcockAlfred Hitchcock was involved with every aspect of filmmaking both before and during a shootand exercised a great deal of control over his work. On most projects he developed the screenplay;produced detailed storyboards; was active in casting; and influenced the choice of soundtrack andvisual style. In exercising such control to produce a highly personal artistic vision he was able tooverride the constraints of the studio system; this entailed him having authority over the final cut(a privilege afforded most auteurs). It was Hitchcock’s complete control over all elements that led toTruffaut citing the director as an example in early auteur debates (see Hitchcock interview, 1967, inTruffaut, 1986).The most commonly examined areas attest to his title as ‘master of suspense’. He is recognizedas revolutionizing the thriller genre, playing with an audience’s nerves and fears and often tacklingsubjects of a taboo nature. For example, Strangers on a Train (1951) touches on issues of homosexuality;Psycho (1960) deals with the Oedipus Complex; and Marnie (1964) looks at repressedmemory.Devices such as recurring themes, camera technique, editing, particular use of sound and silences,chiaroscuro lighting, the MacGuffin (an object that serves as the impetus for the plot) and cameoappearances all combine to present Hitchcock’s personal vision of the world in his thrillers. Due tothe array of innovative stylistic features that were employed by Hitchcock only a few examples canbe selected here. This study will look first at those characteristics that are concerned with filmmaking(aesthetics and production) and second at those characteristics rooted in Hitchcock and his personalvision (biographical details and themes), which together combine to suggest his auteur status.Making a case for an auteurIrrespective of the arguments against the director being considered as the sole visionary forcebehind a film, it is still a very important feature of film theory. Therefore, you need to know howbest to construct your claims in favour of a director gaining this badge of esteem. The diagram onp.14 should help you focus your thoughts when trying to make an argument for a director as auteuror not.It is important to note that there are arrows leading to and from the ‘Biographical details’ box. Thisis to indicate that a director’s life can, and typically does, influence aesthetic and thematic choices.Using this template as a starting point, the following case studies may help you ascertain whethera director deserves the title of auteur.Respond and reflect1 D o you agree that genre theory ‘is a relatively weak and secondary position in relation to thesolid and fundamental role of the author and [their] works’ (p.115)?2 Make a list of directors you would consider to be star auteurs.3 Can you think of any examples where a metteur-en-scène director has gained celebrity status?4 D o you agree that the directorial debate has seen a shift where the idea of artistry has beenreplaced with commercial concerns?Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.14 UNDERSTANDING FILM THEORYAestheticsHitchcock is considered an expert of cinematic technique. Having trained as a draftsman, he wasknown for meticulously creating extensive storyboards which mapped out intricate details of eachshot. His dialogue, sound, plot and character were always secondary to the image.However, he used all these components in imaginative ways. In Blackmail (1929), his first soundfilm, he utilized silence and dialogue to dramatic effect. Repetition of the word ‘knife’ is amplifiedwithin a conversation; this device aurally represents the violent stabbing action of the knifeand psychologically gnaws away at the guilty character. Similarly, Bernard Herrmann’s score forPsycho was composed with the distinct intention of emphasizing the violence of the famous showersequence after many images had to be cut due to censors. Here the staccato strings accentuate thephysical assault.It is probably for his innovative camera techniques and editing that Hitchcock is considered amaster. The placement and movement of the camera was carefully controlled. Dolly zooms, whichBiographical detailsConsider your director’supbringing. Are there anyevents of importance? Arethese events evident in theirwork? Do they choosesubject matter that reflectstheir life? Are their filmspersonal projects?ThemesIdentify recurring themes inyour selected director’s bodyof films. Are the themeshistorical, political, socialand/or symbolic? What dothese themes tell us? Arethey relevant to theunderstanding of the films?AestheticsConsider your chosendirector’s mise-en-scène.Is there a similarity in styleacross films? Think aboutcolours and atmosphere. Is astylistic trait evident in thecinematography? Alsoanalyse the use of music.ProductionWhat budget is your directorable to secure? Does yourchosen director use thesame actors and technicalcrew? How much of theirstyle is dependent onothers? Can you identifyanother member of the teamwho could qualify as anauteur?AuteurFigure 1.3 Making a case for an auteurDoughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.Auteur Theory 15became known as the ‘Hitchcock Zoom’, are seen in Vertigo (1958). They were combined withstrange camera angles to heighten dramatic meaning in many films, especially when psychologicalelements were involved. Returning to the shower scene, Hitchcock builds suspense by using cutsthat get progressively shorter until the victim lies dead, with her blood trickling down the plug hole.ThemesThe act of murder in his films points to another of Hitchcock’s motifs, a fascination with eyes.Hitchcock understood how the eyes reveal what a character thinks or needs. Extreme close-up shotsand point-of-view editing force spectators to experience the perspective of both the victim and thekiller. In a voyeuristic way the audience enters the violent, frightening scene. The film Frenzy (1972)engages shot/reverse-shot to mirror the eyes of both the murderer and his prey.Hitchcock’s preoccupation with eyes continues throughout his oeuvre. In Rear Window (1954),Jimmy Stewart’s character repeatedly watches his neighbours through a pair of binoculars. In PsychoNorman Bates (Anthony Perkins) spies on Janet Leigh through a peephole cleverly hidden behind apainting. The director takes his obsession with eyes to an extreme level. Consider the images below(Figures 1.4 and 1.5). Here horrific blindness is enforced on elderly victims. The vivid desecration ofthe skull shocks the audience and highlights the fragility of the human body.ProductionA typical trait of an auteur is to employ the same actors and technical crew time and time again.A look across fifty years of Hitchcock films shows that he tended to choose the same screenwriters,art directors, composers and actors, usually working with them over a short period of time. BernardHerrmann, the composer, was the exception to this, working on eight films over a period of nineyears from 1955. Herrmann was responsible for some of the most successful scores in Hitchcock’sfilms, notably Vertigo, Psycho and North by Northwest (1959). Additionally, Jimmy Stewart and CaryGrant each appeared in four Hitchcock films while Ingrid Bergman and Grace Kelly each starred inthree films.Biographical detailsCommand of the mise-en-scène and familiar cast and crew are only part of the vision of an auteur.Integral to the auteurist position are aspects of the director’s own life which are deemed to haveFigure 1.4 Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) Figure 1.5 The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963)Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.16 UNDERSTANDING FILM THEORYinfluenced his work. Critical writing on Hitchcock often focuses on his childhood, Catholic upbringingand fascination with aspects of guilt, punishment, fear and morality. Critics and journalists soonbegan to recognize these familiar tropes and discuss them at length, speculating on their origins.Hitchcock fostered this speculation by alluding to childhood experiences when interviewed.In particular he spoke of an incident when he was punished by his father (Spoto, 1983, p.4).This is often read as the motivation for Hitchcock’s fears and distrust of authority and also for hisrecurring theme of the innocent man wrongly accused. In this anecdotal tale, Hitchcock was sentto a police station by his father as punishment for a minor offence. There he was locked, terrified,in a cell for a short time. The experience engendered a fascination with the plight of the ordinaryman when the victim of mistaken identity, wrongfully accused or imprisoned. His early film TheLodger (1926) and many later films, among them, The Thirty-nine Steps (1935), The Wrong Man (1957),Vertigo and North by Northwest, all share and develop this theme and all include a character tryingto prove his innocence.The recurring themes in his films of loneliness and depressive illness can be traced back to hischildhood. He felt that he was an outsider: ‘I don’t ever recall having a playmate […] I looked andobserved a great deal’ (Spoto, 1983, p.20). Outsiders who feature in his films include an amnesiacaccused of murder in Spellbound (1945), a woman with a fear of sexual contact in Marnie and a serialkiller made psychotic due to his sexual impotence in Frenzy. However, it is not only villains who areoutsiders; alienated heroes appear in Rear Window and Vertigo.Alongside this alienation there is evidence of Hitchcock’s misogyny and episodes of sadismare to be found in biographical accounts. These similarly became dominant themes in many ofhis films. Tormented blonde heroines are foregrounded as vehicles for male voyeurism and asobjects of sadistic male fantasies. It appears that Hitchcock saw female sexual vulnerability asa powerful dramatic device to be exploited, as can be witnessed in Psycho, Marnie and Frenzy.Furthermore, these heroines suffered violent deaths, further demonstrating the director’s fascinationwith sadism. Violent death and murder, in particular strangulation, made an appearancefrom his earliest films.Hitchcock was an accomplished self-publicist and carefully manufactured his public image.Unusually for the time, Hitchcock’s name featured prominently in the marketing and promotionof his films. His cameo roles formed part of this promotion, while his narration of prologuesand epilogues in his TV shows increased his visibility to another audience. His striking way ofsigning his name was made up of a series of eight strokes of his pen to create a silhouette likenessof himself. This, alongside his highly visible, rotund figure, combined to market his image as adirector. Another aspect of this self-promotion was his decision to restrict his work to the narrowfocus of a single genre, thus establishing his brand-name as the master of suspense.ConclusionHowever, whether Hitchcock can be considered an auteur remains a contentious issue. WhileHitchcock’s worldview and stylistic tone are very apparent across some fifty years of filmmaking,of his forty-four films from Blackmail to Family Plot (1976), thirty-seven were literary adaptations.Unfortunately, in Hollywood the screenwriter is often seen as a technician rather than as a creativeperson. That is, to make a novel into a screenplay is a mechanical process that can be learnedby hacks. David O. Selznick, a ‘hands-on’ producer who worked with Hitchcock until Notorious(1946), was keen that film adaptations should be faithful to the original book. This did not suitHitchcock. Therefore to establish and maintain his status as auteur, Hitchcock needed to moveauthorship away from the original author. Rather than be recognized for literary adaptationsDoughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.Auteur Theory 17which he believed would dissipate his auteur status, Hitchcock chose to make films from relativelyunknown books and authors. This enabled him to buy, for example, Psycho (novel byRobert Bloch) and Strangers on a Train (novel by Patricia Highsmith) cheaply. After banning thenovelists from any further intervention, Hitchcock remodelled the plots to allow for his personalinterpretation. In his interview with Truffaut, Hitchcock noted that, ‘What I do is to read a storyonce, and if I like the basic idea, I just forget all about the book and start to create cinema’ (Truffaut,1986, p.71). Hitchcock’s strategies worked, as very few of the novelists are connected withtheir adapted texts even if they later gained fame. For instance, Patricia Highsmith is knownfor the Ripley character but not as the writer of Strangers on a Train. Despite the involvementof screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, composers, art directors and cinematographers, Hitchcock’spersonal worldview shines through and coheres fifty years of filmmaking.Case study: Guillermo del ToroAt what point a director can be accepted as an auteur is a question that has been asked since debatesconcerning directorial authority first began. The contemporary Mexican director Guillermo del Torois being discussed in both academic and popular publications as a potential auteur. He is an interestingcandidate as he has directed only nine films to date:• Cronos (1993)• Mimic (1997)• El Espinazo del Diablo/The Devil’s Backbone (2001)• Blade II (2002)• Hellboy (2004)• El Laberinto del Fauno/Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)• Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)• Pacific Rim (2013)• Crimson Peak (2015)Biographical detailsDel Toro is one of three Mexican directors who have received critical attention over the last tenyears. Affectionately referred to as the Three Amigos, del Toro along with Alejandro GonzálezIñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón all share the same ideology and strive to promote Mexican filmmakingon a global scale. A similar political agenda is woven throughout their films and a case couldbe made for any one of the group to be labelled as an auteur, but here we will turn our attentionspecifically to del Toro.Following the success of his debut vampire picture Cronos, del Toro was invited to direct his firstHollywood film. The experience was less than ideal, as he felt his authority was constantly beingundermined by the studio. Once Mimic was completed he fled back to his native Mexico wherehe made The Devil’s Backbone. He was motivated to return to the US in 1998 when his father waskidnapped. Although del Toro has made films in Mexico, America and Spain and is able to attractfunding for blockbusters and independent art-house productions, a stylistic and thematic consistencystill runs throughout the body of his work.Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.18 UNDERSTANDING FILM THEORYThemesDel Toro can be considered a genre filmmaker. As early as 2002, Kimberley Chun referred to del Toroas ‘one of the most original and ambitious horror auteurs since David Cronenberg’ (2002, p.28). Hisfilms are primarily a hybrid of the Horror and Fantasy genres. He is more specifically influencedby the world of fairytales and fables as his films continue to explore boundaries between reality andthe world of imagination and the supernatural. Accordingly, del Toro often manages to go againstthe grain of generic conventions, for example, the character of Hellboy is not your usual comicbookadaptation. Rather than a moral, altruistic superhero, Hellboy is a jealous, jaded and flawedcharacter.At the heart of the majority of the director’s work is the theme of childhood. Del Toro is akinto Ingmar Bergman in his innate ability to capture childhood innocence and depth on screen. Histwo art-house successes The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth both enquire into the workings ofthe child’s mind. Del Toro often relates the importance of his own childhood and convincinglydescribes encounters with monsters and ghosts, which he claims fuelled his filmmaking in later life.Yet his films do not cater for a younger audience as children in his movies often experience extremeviolence, which once more is not typical of traditional filmmaking.Another key theme inherent in his works is a political agenda. Occasionally films will take placeat a specific moment in history, making the political subtext apparent (the Spanish Civil War isintegral to both The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth); even when not explicitly expressed ananti-authoritarian message underlies most of his films.AestheticsIn numerous interviews del Toro cites the Spanish artist Francisco de Goya as an influence.Stylistic similarities can be seen between the colour palette adopted by Goya and the tones andatmosphere captured in a del Toro production. In particular he often discusses the impact thatSaturno devorando a su hijo/Saturn Devouring His Son had on him as a child. This painting is part ofa collection known as the ‘Black Paintings’; also in this group is The Great He Goat/The Witches’Sabbath. Here the silhouetted horned figure, which appears in many of Goya’s paintings, bearsa striking resemblance to the iconic Faun featured in Pan’s Labyrinth. Del Toro’s love of chiaroscurolighting can similarly be recognized in the dark shadows that are eerily cast in Goya’sbrush strokes.The imaginary, surreal worlds typically inhabited by the lead protagonists in the films of del Toroare frequently located underground. This adventure into a world of darkness and the unknown isalso evident in the literary writings of Lewis Carroll. Ofelia’s journey into the labyrinthine world ofPan draws parallels with that of Alice’s into Wonderland. In the press notes that accompany the film,del Toro talks of the symbolism apparent in the journey:I tried to reconnect with the perversity and very sexual content of his work. In fairy tales, allstories are either about the return to the womb (heaven, home) or wandering out into the worldand facing your own dragon. We are all children wandering through our own fable. (2006)The symbolism throughout del Toro’s oeuvre demands closer attention. The iconography is oftenreflective of his fascination with insects and clockwork mechanisms but many images hold greaterspiritual and religious connotations.Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.Auteur Theory 19ProductionDel Toro’s films manage to traverse big-budget commercial Hollywood filmmaking and lowbudgetart cinema. The director is fortunate to be in a position to secure large budgets. Converselyhe funds his art-house ventures from his own production company, ‘Tequila Gang’. Del Torofounded his company following his experience of being produced by El Deseo (a productioncompany established by the Spanish director Pedro Almodovar). Both the Tequila Gang and ElDeseo were set up to nurture up-and-coming filmmakers from Mexico, Spain and Latin America.Whereas many directors see working for Hollywood studios as a betrayal of artistic integrity, delToro does not distinguish between his films in this way.Del Toro typically works with the same cast and crew. After casting Ron Perlman in his 1993film Cronos and Blade II in 2002, he petitioned for Perlman to take the lead in the comic-bookadaptation Hellboy. Perlman was predominantly known for his television role in Beauty and theBeast (1987–90) but producers felt they needed a star to sell the film and had Vin Diesel in mind.Del Toro refused to compromise and as a result Perlman was hired. Since this Perlman has alsoappeared in the 2013 Pacific Rim. Another actor who has featured in a number of his films is DougJones. Jones first appeared in the director’s American debut Mimic as an extra. He was then cast asone of the lead characters in the Hellboy franchise. His role as the psychic amphibian ‘Abe Sapien’(Figure 1.6), and more importantly his physicality, must have inspired del Toro as the directorwent on to cast Jones as the two most memorable characters in Pan’s Labyrinth – that of the PaleMan (Figure 1.7) and the Faun. Jones has since collaborated with del Torro playing the ghostlycreatures in Crimson Peak (2015).Del Toro also tends to use the same Mexican cinematographer, Guillermo Navarro. Navarro hasbeen instrumental in shooting his films with the exceptions of Mimic, Blade II and Crimson Peak.More recently the director has returned to the same editor. Bernat Vilaplana first worked with himon Pan’s Labyrinth. He has since worked on Hellboy II: The Golden Army and Crimson Peak whichsuggests that the collaborative relationship may continue.ConclusionDel Toro is a director, producer and writer. There is a distinct magical darkness to his films. Thematicallyhe is concerned with childhood, memory, death and the politics of oppression. He can beclassed as a generic filmmaker as his films adhere to the Fantasy/Horror blueprint, yet they are notFigure 1.6 Hellboy (Guillermo del Toro, 2004) Figure 1.7 Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo delToro, 2006)Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.20 UNDERSTANDING FILM THEORYConclusionThe question remains, why has Auteur Theory survived as a critical approach when filmmaking isclearly collaborative? Here are some possible answers:• The director as auteur allows cinema to claim artistic and academic legitimacy; you have filmartists just as you have literary or visual artists. Film should be scrutinized in a similar mannerto traditional art forms.• Academics and critics tend to champion the director as it is easier when writing to attributeresponsibility to a sole individual. This practice of using the director as ‘shorthand’ has becomeaccepted as the norm and in turn promotes Auteur Theory.• Auteur Theory is key to the cultural capital of fan communities, cinema buffs, journalists andacademics, all of whom publish using a variety of formats. The internet has given fans a platformto voice their opinions. Similarly newspapers, magazines, journals, radio and television allproduce items promoting directors to their respective audiences.contrived. Instead they provoke the audience to question wider political and social questions. DelToro is becoming a household name and therefore attracting audiences on the strength of his previouswork. The best illustration of this can be seen in the marketing of the Spanish film El Orfanato/The Orphanage (2007). The Orphanage was directed by Juan Antonio Bayona but was sold as a delToro production. He produced the film and Bayona owes his mentor a great debt, and not just financially.The Orphanage covers the same ground as del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone, with both films setin orphanages that are haunted by the ghosts of children and featuring a historical Spanish politicalsubtext. Here del Toro proves himself an inspiration to younger directors. However, this influencegoes far beyond style and content because he is also helping to support new talent. His name isincreasingly recognized as an endorsement of quality, but whether he should be granted the statusof auteur is yet to be seen.Reflect and respond1 Can you think of any reason why Hitchcock should not be considered an auteur?2 T o what extent do you think that Hitchcock’s aesthetic is influenced by the composer BernardHerrmann?3 Make a case for whether you think del Toro is or is not an auteur.4 What are your thoughts concerning the auteur status of Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu and AlfonsoCuarón?5 Can you think of any other potential auteurs typically famous for making movies in one particulargenre?6 Comment on the tensions between art and industry in debates on auteurism.7 Identify up-and-coming directors whom you believe may be accepted into the canon of greatauteurs.Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.Auteur Theory 21• DVD, Blu-ray marketing and streamed content providers include extra features to promote therole of the director: commentaries, ‘making-of’ documentaries, interviews and ‘special edition’directors’ cuts.• Similarly a vast amount of journalism in print and on television features interviews with directors,not just stars, in order to promote the latest film offerings. Therefore Roland Barthes’s ideathat the author is theoretically dead appears, now more than ever, to be out of step with ourcontemporary media.More recently academics have introduced the term ‘post-auteur’. This can be seen as an extensionof earlier criticisms where authorial intent has been questioned due to the dedicated involvement ofactors, producers, screenwriters, etc.Despite such recent trends, the director is still very much ‘of the moment’, as directorscontinue to garner respect, which can in turn draw people back into the auditorium. This is thecase with a number of contemporary American indie auteurs such as Paul Thomas Anderson,Wes Anderson, Alenjandro González Iñárritu and Richard Linklater. Even with the emergenceof online streamed content providers, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, there are still substantialwaiting periods before films are officially available to view. Therefore, where a directorshas gained a specific following, there is a greater chance that people will physically attend thecinema to watch their lastest feature. More recently, a number of directors have started creatingseries for streamed content providers, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. These services areenabling directors to develop characters over a series of episodes rather than the traditional hourand a half limitations of the feature film. David Fincher was involved in directing and producingHouse of Cards (2013) and Baz Luhrmann took a similar role in The Get Down (2016). As thedemarcations between film and television (streamed content) become blurred, the auteur debatelooks to enter a new phase. For these reasons, academic enquiries into the role of the directorwill continue to be pertinent.BibliographyAstruc, A. (1948) ‘The Birth of a New Avant-Garde: La Caméra-Stylo’, in P. Graham (ed.) The New Wave. London:Secker & Warburg, pp.17–23.Barthes, R. (1977) ‘Death of the Author’, in Stephen Heath ((ed.) and translator), Image, Music, Text. London:Fontana (first published 1968).Begam, R. (1996) Samuel Beckett and the End of Modernity. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.Caughie, J. (ed.) (1981) Theories of Authorship: A Reader. London and New York, NY: Routledge.Chun, K. (2002) ‘What Is a Ghost?: An Interview with Guillermo del Toro’, Cineaste, vol. 27, no. 2, pp.28–31.Corrigan, T. (1990) The Commerce of Auterism: A Voice Without Authority’, New German Critique, vol. 17, no.49, pp.43–57.Del Toro, G. (2006) ‘Press Notes for Pan’s Labyrinth’, Tequila Gang.Foucault, M. (1977) What is an Author? Language, Counter-Memory, Practice Selected Essays and Interviews(trans. Donald Bouchard and Sherry Simon, ed. Donald Bouchard). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press,pp.113–38.Kael, P. (1963) ‘Circles and Squares’, Film Quarterly, vol. 16, no. 3, pp.12–26.Owen, A. (ed.) (2003) Story and Character: Interviews with British Screenwriters. London: Bloomsbury.Rohmer, E. and Chabrol, C. (1979) Hitchcock: The First Forty-four Films. Oxford: Roundhouse.Salisbury, M. (ed.) (2006) Burton on Burton: Revised Edition. London: Faber and Faber Ltd.Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.22 UNDERSTANDING FILM THEORYSarris, A. (1962) ‘Notes on the Auteur Theory’, in L. Braudy and M. Cohen (eds) (2004) Film Theory and Criticism:Introductory Readings, 6th edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Spoto, D. (1983) Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock. London: Collins.Truffaut, F. (1954) ‘Une Certaine Tendance du Cinema Frangais’, in J. Hollows, P. Hutchings and M. Jancovich(eds) (2000) The Film Studies Reader. London: Arnold.Truffaut, T. (1986) Hitchcock: The Definitive Study of Alfred Hitchcock. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Inc. (firstpublished 1967).Doughty, R., & Etherington-Wright, C. (2017). Understanding film theory. ProQuest Ebook Central http://ebookcentral.proquest.comCreated from auk-ebooks on 2020-10-25 13:06:09.Copyright © 2017. Macmillan Education UK. All rights reserved.
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Our essay writers are graduates with diplomas, bachelor’s, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college diploma. When assigning your order, we match the paper subject with the area of specialization of the writer.
Why Choose Our Academic Writing Service?

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Any deadline
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Subject-relevant academic writer
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Get superb grades consistently

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You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.
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