Film Theory


Auteur Theory

Information From Powerpoint

What is Authorship?

Yet despite the seismic changes in critical fashion during the past half century, auteurism-at its most basic, the idea there is an author to a film-has been central to the historical development of both popular film culture and serious film criticism in theory”

(Page 1, ‘Auteurs and Authorship-A Film Reader’, Barry Keith Grant, 1st ed. 2008)

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The Auteur Theory: Context

Context of the Auteur Theory 

-Developed by Francois Truffaut and Andrew Sarris (defined by Barry Keith Grant in the last slide), The auteur theory developed in the 1950’s/60’s  as a way of defining artistic creators who’s work is identifiable by individual characteristics.

-‘Cahiers Du Cinema’ is a French magazine, founded by Andre Bazin, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze and Joseph- Marie Lo Duca in 1951.

-In 1954, Truffaut disputed ‘La qualité française (usually translated as "The Tradition of Quality”), which triggered the discussion called ‘la politique des Auteurs’; which later became known as the Auteur Theory.•It was known that it was not until the end of the studio system era in America that there were many restrictions put on the directors, it is clear that Cahiers Du Cinema focused on more European directors ( such as Alfred Hitchcock).  It is clear that Francois Truffaut was aware of this, and that the type of films they would be creating would be within these boundaries, and that the scripts for these films would often be determined by the studious in charge.

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Genre Theory Vs Auteur Theory

Genre Theory Vs Auteur Theory


  • genreric Similarities
  • texts= determined by historical/social/political context
  • commercialized products from a specific industry


  • individual stylistic features 
  • texts=determined by the artist's creativity 
  • how the texts emerge as part of the specific artists work
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first reading: andrew sarris

Reading: Andrew Sarris. ‘Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962’ in Leo Baudy and Marshall Cohen, eds., Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 5th ed. 1999), pp. 561-4 "Francois Truffaut tried to descirbe the definition of 'auteur' to be a 'polemical weapon for a given time  or place'.." (page 561) "Claims neither the gift of prophecy nor the opinion of extracinematic perception" (p561) Sarris offers up three premises of an auteur: 1) technical competence- "as a criterion of value" (p562) 2) distinguishable personality of the director-i.e characteristics, style, etc. 3) "interior meaning..extrapolated from the tension between a directors personality and his material"

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An Example of An Auteur

Spielberg: Auteur profile 

Spielberg has become an household name due to the numerous films that he has created over the years. He can be classified as an auteur due to his distinguishable  and unique creations which make his films recognizable; due to large budgets, use of an intriguing and thrilling plot, and a large variety of storylines.

Creating Box-office hits such as E.T, Jaws, Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones, Spielberg’s films are loved by millions worldwide. 

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