The Romantic Notion Of A Film Director

2523 words - 10 pages

The intention of this essay is to discuss the romantic notion of a film director who has etched their own cinematic vision into the body of their film work, and whether the theory and practice is dead and an infringement of the spectator’s imagination and is it the spectator who finds meaning in the film. I will be closely looking at critical material, primarily André Bazin and Roland Barthes and applying them to several case study films directed by Christopher Nolan including The Following (1998), The Prestige (2006) and Inception (2010), to examine whether Nolan possesses the qualities of an auteur and if so, does that imply an ideological view of what the auteur resembles or an artistic one.
The term auteur theory arose in France during the 1940’s, a foundation to the French cinematic movement known as the nouvelle vague (French New Wave), principally noting the director as the author. The dominant view of cinematic authorship has consisted of novels, paintings, poems and more recently, films. To understand the auteur we must first realise that film can be considered an art form; the creative expression of an individual artist. As Alexandre Astruc states ‘the cinema is quite simply becoming a means of expression, just as all the other arts have been before it, and in particular painting and the novel’ (Astruc, 1999: 159). This allows the director to be capable of expressing themselves through recurrent thematic elements or particular visual aesthetics. A film’s meaning can be attributed to a single creative source, the director, who stands behind it as its creator thus giving the narrative a composed personal meaning. The distinction of the auteur can be signified through many works such as the use of crew members and cast to lighting and ultimately narrative subject matter. Cinematic authorship has been debated many times over the visual aesthetics and narrative themes, precisely as a question of a director’s individual vision; through the use of semiotics, structuralism and psychoanalysis. Barthes claims that the author is dead (Barthes, 1977: 208), a theoretical construction that perceives the director as an idea, whereas, Bazin’s principle method establishes cinematic realism.
The romantic idea of the auteur is described by film theoretician, André Bazin, observing the film form as an idealistic phenomenon. Through the personal factor in artistic creation as a standard reference, Bazin primarily refers to an essential literary and romantic conception of the artist as central. He considers the relationship between film aesthetics and reality more important than the director itself and places cinema above paintings. He described paintings as a similar ethical creation to film stating a director ‘can be valued according to its measurements and the celebrity of the signature, the objective quality of the work itself was formerly held in much higher esteem.’ (Bazin, 1967: 250). Bazin contemplates the historical and social aspects that...

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