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An Argument Against Auteur Theory. Essay

2746 words - 11 pages

Auteurism: A Disease of Greatness.The term Auteur seems to bless a privileged group of filmmakers with an almost messiah-like legacy. Men such as Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford and Fritz Lange are believed to inhabit the ranks of the cinematic elite, and not surprisingly most critics are more than willing to bestow upon them the title of Auteur. By regarding filmmaking as yet another form of art, Auteur theory stipulates that a film is the direct result of its director's genius. With the emerging prominence of auteur based criticism in the 1950?s, the role of the director became increasingly integral to a film's success. However most would argue that this form of criticism didn't reach its apex until 1960s, when Andrew Sarris released his seminal works "Notes on the Auteur Theory" (1962) and "The American Cinema" (1968). With this book, Sarris further elaborated on Truffault's theory that "There are no good and bad movies, only good and bad directors"1. To abuse a cliché,Sarris assumed that films are a director's canvas, and only they have the ability to create a great work of art. As intriguing as this notion might seem, there is no doubt that auteur theory is an example of oversimplification at its finest. Unlike many other forms of art, Cinema is the direct result of the cooperative effort of hundreds of people, of which the director and cast are merely the most prominent. To subscribe to auteur theory is to ignore 95% of what makes the production of a film possible, while also adhering to a set of criteria which merely accepts a specific definition of greatness. Auteurism may quite possibly be as much a stigma as a blessing because it celebrates those who adhere to a consistent style, while ignoring those who constantly reinvent themselves.To its credit, Auteur Theory did help to spawn, what has come to be defined as "The Film Generation", an audience of mostly college age viewers who had began to view cinema as art rather than entertainment. However, in its quest to define a canon of excellence, auteur theory often helped to neglect the merits of film which functioned as popular entertainment. At what point does art end and popular entertainment begin? During the height of the auteur theory era, Roger Corman, the man responsible for directing such films as "Attack of the Crab Monsters" and "Teenage Cave Man" would no doubt be the definition of the anti-auteur. Corman worked in a number of different genres, and made films which were notoriously low-budget, and often extremely profitable. Despite the immense schlock value of Corman's work, he is perhaps one of the most important figures in late 20th century cinema, if only for his ability to nurture young talent. Many of the marquee names of auteurism, first came into prominence directing Corman's brand of low budget genre films. Future Auteurs, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdonovich and Jonathan Demme, all began their careers by working for Roger Corman, and as they went...

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