From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Auteur theory)

An auteur (French: [o.tœʁ], author) is a singular artist who controls all aspects of a collaborative creative work, a person equivalent to the author of a novel or a play.[1] The term is commonly referenced to filmmakers or directors with a recognizable style or thematic preoccupation.[2]

Auteurism originated in French film criticism of the late 1940s as a value system[3] that derives from the cinematic theories of André Bazin and Alexandre Astruc—dubbed auteur theory by American film critic Andrew Sarris.[4] Such critics invented the concept as a way of distinguishing French New Wave filmmakers from studio system directors that were part of the Hollywood establishment.[1] Auteur theory has since been applied to producers of popular music, as well as directors of video games.



Film director and critic François Truffaut in 1965

The definition of an auteur has been debated since the 1940s. André Bazin and Roger Leenhardt presented the theory that it is the director that brings the film to life and uses the film to express their thoughts and feelings about the subject matter as well as a worldview as an auteur. An auteur can use lighting, camerawork, staging and editing to add to their vision.[5]

Truffaut's development

In François Truffaut's 1954 essay "Une certaine tendance du cinéma français" ("A certain tendency in French cinema"), he coined the phrase "la politique des Auteurs", asserting that the worst of Jean Renoir's movies would always be more interesting than the best of the movies of Jean Delannoy. "Politique" might very well be translated as "policy" or "program"; it involves a conscious decision to value and look at films in a certain way. One might see it as the policy of treating any director that uses a personal style or a unique worldview as an Auteur. Truffaut criticized the Cinema of Quality as "Scenarists' films", which are works that lack originality and rely on literary classics. According to Truffaut, this means that the director is only a metteur en scene, a "stager". This tradition suggests that the screenwriter hands the script to the director and the director simply adds the performers and pictures.[6] Truffaut said: "[t]here are no good and bad movies, only good and bad directors".[citation needed]


Even before auteur theory became clearly defined, the director was considered to be the most important among the people working on a film. Early German film theorist Walter Julius Bloem credited this to film being an art for the masses, and the masses being accustomed to regard someone who gives the final product (in this case, the director) as an artist, and those who contribute before (i.e. screenwriters) as apprentices.[7]

Starting in the 1960s, some film critics began criticising auteur theory's focus on the authorial role of the director. Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris feuded in the pages of The New Yorker and various film magazines.[8][9] One reason for the backlash is the collaborative aspect of shooting a film, and in the theory's privileging of the role of the director (whose name, at times, has become more important than the movie itself). In Kael's "Raising Kane" (1971), an essay written on Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, she points out how the film made extensive use of the distinctive talents of co-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz and cinematographer Gregg Toland.[10]

Some screenwriters have publicly balked at the idea that directors are more authorial than screenwriters, while film historian Aljean Harmetz, referring to the creative input of producers and studio executives in classical Hollywood, argues that the auteur theory "collapses against the reality of the studio system".[11] In 2006, David Kipen coined the term Schreiber theory to refer to the theory of the screenwriter as the principal author of a film.[12][better source needed]

Film historian Georges Sadoul pointed out that the main author of a film is not necessarily the director, but can be main actor, screenwriter, producer, or even the author of the original story (in case of literary adaptations). Also, he argued that the film can only be seen as a work of collective and not as a work of a single person.[13]


In law,[vague] the film is treated as a work of art and the auteur, as the creator of the film, is the original copyright holder. Under European Union law, the film director is considered the author or one of the authors of a film, largely as a result of the influence of auteur theory.[14]

Popular music

Record producer Phil Spector in 1964

From the 1960s, Phil Spector is considered the first auteur among producers of popular music.[15][16] Author Matthew Bannister named him the first "star" producer.[16] Journalist Richard Williams wrote: "Spector created a new concept: the producer as overall director of the creative process, from beginning to end. He took control of everything, he picked the artists, wrote or chose the material, supervised the arrangements, told the singers how to phrase, masterminded all phases of the recording process with the most painful attention to detail, and released the result on his own label.".[17][18]

Another early pop music auteur was the Beach Boys' multi-tasking leader Brian Wilson,[19] who himself was mentored by Spector.[20] Before the progressive pop of the late 1960s, performers were typically unable to decide on the artistic content of their music.[21] Wilson became the first rock producer to use the studio as a discrete instrument,[20] thus making the Beach Boys one of the first rock groups to exert studio control.[22] Music producers after the mid 1960s would draw on his influence, setting a precedent that allowed bands and artists to enter a recording studio and act as producers, either autonomously, or in conjunction with other like minds.[19] The Atlantic's Jason Guriel wrote that Wilson "paved the way for auteurs like Kanye West ... anticipat[ing] the rise of the producer ... [and] the modern pop-centric era, which privileges producer over artist and blurs the line between entertainment and art. ... Anytime a band or musician disappears into a studio to contrive an album-length mystery, the ghost of Wilson is hovering near."[23]

Video games

Japanese developer Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear series) is considered to be the first auteur of video games.[24] Other auters include Tetsuya Nomura (Final Fantasy series), Fumito Ueda (Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian), Tetsuya Takahashi (Xeno series), Hidetaka Miyazaki (Souls series),[25] and Ragnar Tornquist.[26]

See also


  1. ^ a b Santas 2002, p. 18.
  2. ^ Min, Joo & Kwak 2003, p. 85.
  3. ^ Caughie 2013, pp. 22–34, 62–66.
  4. ^ The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (n.d.). "Auteur theory". Encyclopædia Britannica. 
  5. ^ Thompson & Bordwell 2010, pp. 381–383.
  6. ^ Thompson & Bordwell 2010, p. 382.
  7. ^ Bloem 1924.
  8. ^ A Survivor of Film Criticism’s Heroic Age
  9. ^ Pauline and Me: Farewell, My Lovely
  10. ^ Kael, Pauline, "Raising Kane", The New Yorker, February 20, 1971.
  11. ^ Aljean Harmetz, Round up the Usual Suspects, p. 29.
  12. ^ Kipen 2006.
  13. ^ Sadoul 1972.
  14. ^ Kamina 2002, p. 153.
  15. ^ Eisenberg 2005, p. 103.
  16. ^ a b Bannister 2007, p. 38.
  17. ^ Williams 2003, pp. 15–16.
  18. ^ Williams 2003, pp. 15-16.
  19. ^ a b Edmondson 2013, p. 890.
  20. ^ a b Cogan & Clark 2003, pp. 32–33.
  21. ^ Willis 2014, p. 217.
  22. ^ Miller 1992, p. 193.
  23. ^ Guriel, Jason (May 16, 2016). "How Pet Sounds Invented the Modern Pop Album". The Atlantic. 
  24. ^ "Hideo Kojima - video gaming's first auteur - Screen Robot". Screen Robot. Retrieved 7 April 2016. 
  25. ^ Fahey, Rob (9 December 2016). "Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian: The Last of their Kind". Retrieved 9 December 2016. 
  26. ^ "How the creator of Dreamfall got back to his roots - Polygon". Retrieved 6 April 2017. 


  • Bannister, Matthew (2007). White Boys, White Noise: Masculinities and 1980s Indie Guitar Rock. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7546-8803-7. 
  • Bloem, Walter Julius (1924). The Soul of the Moving Picture. E.P. Dutton. 
  • Caughie, John (2013). Theories of Authorship. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-10268-4. 
  • Cogan, Jim; Clark, William (2003). Temples of Sound: Inside the Great Recording Studios. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-3394-3. 
  • Edmondson, Jacqueline, ed. (2013). "Producers". Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories that Shaped our Culture [4 volumes]: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories That Shaped Our Culture. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-39348-8. 
  • Eisenberg, Evan (2005). The Recording Angel: Music, Records and Culture from Aristotle to Zappa. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-09904-1. 
  • Kipen, David (2006). The Schreiber Theory: A Radical Rewrite of American Film History. Melville House Pub. ISBN 978-0-9766583-3-7. 
  • Miller, Jim (1992). "The Beach Boys". In DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly. The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll: The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and Their Music. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780679737285. 
  • Min, Eungjun; Joo, Jinsook; Kwak, Han Ju (2003). Korean Film: History, Resistance, and Democratic Imagination. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-275-95811-4. 
  • Sadoul, Georges; Morris, Peter (1972). Dictionary of Film Makers. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-02151-8. 
  • Thompson, Kristin; Bordwell, David (2010). Film History: An Introduction. McGraw-Hill Higher Education. ISBN 978-0-07-126794-6. 
  • Kamina, Pascal (2002). Film Copyright in the European Union. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-43338-9. 
  • Santas, Constantine (2002). Responding to Film: A Text Guide for Students of Cinema Art. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-8304-1580-9. 
  • Williams, Richard (2003). Phil Spector: Out of His Head. Music Sales Group. ISBN 978-0-7119-9864-3. 
  • Willis, Paul E. (2014). Profane Culture. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-6514-7. 

Further reading

  • Ashby, Arved, ed. (2013). Popular Music and the New Auteur: Visionary Filmmakers After MTV. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-982734-3. 
  • Diver, Mike (October 8, 2014). "The Return of the Video Game Auteur". Vice. 
  • Maule, Rosanna (2008). Beyond Auteurism: New Directions in Authorial Film Practices in France, Italy and Spain Since the 1980s. Intellect Books. ISBN 978-1-84150-204-5. 
  • Shuker, Roy (2013). "Auteurs, Stars, and Music History". Understanding Popular Music. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-56479-8. 

External links

  • BBC guide Auteur Theory in Film Criticism
  • Teachers guide to auteur theory pdf
  • 16+ source guides: Auteur Theory/Auteurs at the British Film Institute
Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Auteur"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA