A Lesson in The Auteur Theory

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The Auteur Theory

The folks at FilmmakerIQ have put together another worthwhile lesson on film history, this time addressing the “Auteur Theory” accompanied with the following introduction:

Auteur – it’s a favorite term of cinephiles around the world. But what exactly is Auteur Theory? In this Filmmaker IQ course we peel back pages of time and explore the origins of Auteur Theory from the economically tumultuous adolescence of French Cinema to the culture war waged in the columns of competing American movie critics.

Obviously Francois Truffaut, Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael are discussed heavily in the piece and it’s a video that offers up interesting ideas on how we judge films. Do we judge a film by the filmmaker or judge a film on its own merits? How often do we give credit to a film more for its director than for the actual film itself? In terms of today’s films I know I tend to be far more lenient when it comes to the likes of David Fincher and I’m not sure I’ll ever see a movie by Xavier Dolan and not be able to find some kind of valuable takeaway.

Personally I like Truffaut’s strict opinion of film, striving to find originality and ambition, but at the same time I think that approach can be a bit blind to what else is out there and enjoyable about cinema.

That said, people toss around the word “auteur” way too often. I think many believe to simply mean “director” as opposed to someone that puts a signature stamp on their work. As FilmmakerIQ’s John Hess says in the following video, an auteur doesn’t even have to be a director. Give the video a watch below, I’m pretty sure you’ll take away at least a few nuggets of information and perhaps you’ll even look at the next movie you see a little differently.

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