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It was not a _theory_ championed by the French, it was a _policy_ and then
understood/taken as a theory by the American historian Andrew Sarris
(it should be noted that the American and the French have a different
conception of "theory".)
 
On Fri, 29 Aug 1997, Jerry wrote:
 
> Peter Latham writes:
> >I hate to admit to a lack of knowledge in front of a group whose views I
> >respect as much as I do yours. But I have always had difficulty in
> >understanding the "auteur" theory, and in applying it to anyone other
> >than Hitchcock and Truffaut.
> >
> >My (limited) understanding is that the auteur theory holds that films can
> >best be understood through a knowledge of their authors' views and
> >techniques, assuming the author is an "auteur". In this view, one might
> >look at a narrative story (say Rebecca), and examine the auteur's methods
> >of realizing it, methods which often present a richer or different
> >subtextual story which represents the auteur's stamp.
>
> >Is this correct? If it is, does the theory apply to all films, or only
> >those of an "auteur?" If the latter, how does one know who is an "auteur"?
>
> Yes, this is the basic thrust of the auteur theory.  It was a theory
> championed by young French film critics (including Truffaut, Godard,
> Rohmer, etal) to justify their adoration of American cinema, which at the
> time suffered from critical charges of commercialism and hegemony.  In
> other words, much of American cinema could be regarded as "art" because
> auteurs such as Ford, Hawks, Walsh, Hitchcock, Lubitsch, Ray, through their
> own personal "genius," were able to withstand and even transcend
> constraints imposed upon them by the Hollywood studio system.  While
> theoretically suspect in may regards, auteurism did serve a much needed
> purpose in that it made it possible to regard such aforementioned directors
> as important filmmakers rather than mere "competent craftsmen."
>
> As for how they determined which filmmakers were auteurs, I'm not sure.
> Needless to say, all designated auteurs were at least "good" directors; but
> why other good directors were completely disregarded (such as John Huston
> or Billy Wilder) is more ephemeral.
>
> ******************************************************************
>
> Jerry Johnson
> Austin Film Society
> (512) 322-0145
>
> "I begin with documentary and give it the truth of fiction."
>
>                                         -Jean-Luc Godard
>
> ******************************************************************
>
> ----
> Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
> University of Alabama.
>
 
----
Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the 
University of Alabama.