An auteur (/oʊˈtɜːr/; French: [otœʁ], lit. 'author') is an artist, usually a film director, who applies a highly centralized and subjective control to many aspects of a collaborative creative work; in other words, a person equivalent to an 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 the French film criticism of the late 1940s as a value system[3] that derives from the film criticism approach of André Bazin and Alexandre Astruc—dubbed auteur theory by the American critic Andrew Sarris.[4][5] The concept was invented to distinguish French New Wave filmmakers from studio-system directors that were part of the Hollywood establishment,[1] and has since been applied to producers of popular music as well as to video game creators.



Film director and critic François Truffaut in 1965

Even before the auteur theory was 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.[6] [7] Likewise, James Agee, one of the most famous film critics of the 1940s, said that "the best films are personal ones, made by forceful directors".[7]

Around the same time, the French film critics André Bazin and Roger Leenhardt became advocates for the theory that it is the director who 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. They emphasised that an auteur can use lighting, camerawork, staging and editing to add to their vision.[8]

Development of theory

The French magazine Cahiers du cinéma was founded in 1951 and quickly became a focal point for discussion on the role of directors in cinema. François Truffaut criticized the prevailing "Cinema of Quality" trend in France in his 1954 essay Une certaine tendance du cinéma français ("A certain tendency in French cinema"). He characterised these films as being made by directors who were faithful to the script, which in turn was usually a faithful adaptation of a literary novel. The director was only used as a metteur en scene, a "stager" who simply adds the performers and pictures to an already completed script.[9] Truffaut argued that the directors who had authority and flexibility over how to realise the script were the ones who made better films. He coined the phrase La politique des auteurs ("The policy of the authors") to describe his view. These discussions took place at the beginning of the French New Wave in cinema.

From 1960, with his first self-directed film The Bellboy, Jerry Lewis was one of the earliest Hollywood studio-system actor-turned-directors to be critiqued as an auteur. His attention to both the business and creative sides of production: writing, directing, lighting, editing and art direction coincided with the rise of the auteur theory. He earned consistent praise by French critics in both Cahiers du Cinéma and Positif. His singular mis-en-scene, and skill behind the camera, was aligned with Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock and Satyajit Ray. Jean-Luc Godard said, “Jerry the only one in Hollywood doing something different, the only one who isn’t falling in with the established categories, the norms, the principles. ...Lewis is the only one today who’s making courageous films. He’s been able to do it because of his personal genius”.[10]

Popularization and impact

Andrew Sarris coined the phrase "auteur theory" to translate la politique des auteurs and is credited for popularizing it in the United States and English-speaking media. He first used the phrase in his 1962 essay Notes on the Auteur Theory in the journal Film Culture.[11] He began applying its methods to Hollywood films, and expanded his thoughts in his book The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929–1968 (1968). The impact of Sarris's work was that critical and public attention on each film focused less on its stars and more on the overall product.[7]

In the 1960s and the 1970s, the filmmaking industry was revitalized by a new generation of directors. Known as the New Hollywood era, these directors were given increased control over their projects.[12][13] Studios showed an increased willingness to let directors take risks.[14] The phase came to end in the 1980s, when high-profile financial failures like Heaven's Gate prompted studios to reassert control. [15]


The auteur theory had detractors from the beginning. Pauline Kael was an early opponent [16] and she debated it with Andrew Sarris in the pages of The New Yorker and various film magazines.[17][18] Kael opposed privileging the director and instead argued that a film should be seen as a collaborative process. In her 1971 essay Raising Kane (1971), on Orson Welles's 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.[19]

Richard Corliss and David Kipen have argued that writing is more important to a film's success than the directing.[20][21][22] In his 2006 book, Kipen coined the term Schreiber theory to refer to the theory that the screenwriter is the principal author of a film.

Film historian Georges Sadoul pointed out that the main author of a film is not necessarily the director, but can be the 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 a collective and not as a work of a single person.[23] 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".[24]

Some criticize the auteur theory, and the practice of praising auteurs, for being male-dominated. Writing for IndieWire in 2013, Maria Giese noted that pantheons of auteur directors rarely included a single woman.[25] Some point to the broader lack of women directors; the under-representation of women in film has been called the celluloid ceiling. In 2016, just 7% of all directors for the top 250 grossing movies were women.[26] Others pointed to the lack of women in film schools, which has since changed. In 2010, Martha Lauzen of San Diego State University said that women were represented in film schools; in the same year, 34% of British directing students were women, according to Neil Peplow.[27]


There are references in law,[28] where a directed 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.[29]

Popular music

Phil Spector
Record producer Phil Spector in 1964

The references of auteur theory are occasionally applied to musicians, musical performers and music producers. From the 1960s, Phil Spector is considered the first auteur among producers of popular music.[30][31] Author Matthew Bannister named him the first "star" producer.[31] 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."[32][32]

Another early pop music auteur was the Beach Boys' multi-tasking leader Brian Wilson,[33] who himself was mentored by Spector.[34] Before the progressive pop of the late 1960s, performers were typically unable to decide on the artistic content of their music.[35] Wilson became the first rock producer to use the studio as a discrete instrument,[34] thus making the Beach Boys one of the first rock groups to exert studio control.[36] 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.[33] 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."[37]

Video games

In broadening the use of the terms associated with auteur theory, it has also been applied to the audio-visual environment as encountered in video games. Japanese developer Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear series) is considered to be the first auteur of video games.[38] Other auteurs include Tetsuya Nomura (Final Fantasy series), Fumito Ueda (Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian), Hidetaka Miyazaki (Souls series),[39] and Ragnar Tørnquist.[40]

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. ^ Sarris, Andrew (Winter 1962–1963). "Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962" (PDF). Film Culture. 27: 1–8.
  6. ^ Bloem 1924.
  7. ^ a b c Battaglia, James (May 2010). "Everyone's a Critic: Film Criticism Through History and Into the Digital Age". Senior Honors Theses: 32 – via Digital Commons.
  8. ^ Thompson & Bordwell 2010, pp. 381–383.
  9. ^ Thompson & Bordwell 2010, p. 382.
  10. ^ Jim Hillier, ed. (1987). Cahiers du Cinema 1960–1968 New Wave, New Cinema, Re-evalutating Hollywood (Godard in interview with Jacques Bontemps, Jean-Louis Comolli, Michel Delahaye, and Jean Narboni). Harvard University Press. p. 295. ISBN 9780674090620.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Sarris, Andrew (Winter 1962–1963). "Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962". Film Culture. 27: 1–8.
  12. ^ David A Cook, "Auteur Cinema and the film generation in 70s Hollywood", in The New American Cinema by Jon Lewis (ed), Duke University Press, New York, 1998, pp. 1–4
  13. ^ Stefan Kanfer, The Shock of Freedom in Films, Time Magazine, Dec 8, 1967, Accessed 25 April 2009, [1]
  14. ^ Schatz (1993), pp. 14–16
  15. ^ Final Cut - Dreams And Disaster In The Making Of Heaven's Gate by Steven Bach (Starbrite): Starbite-Internet Archive
  16. ^ Tommy Wiseau: The Last Auteur-Brows Held High-KyleKallgrenBHH on YouTube
  17. ^ A Survivor of Film Criticism’s Heroic Age
  18. ^ Pauline and Me: Farewell, My Lovely
  19. ^ Kael, Pauline, "Raising Kane", The New Yorker, February 20, 1971.
  20. ^ Kipen, David (2006). The Schreiber Theory: A Radical Rewrite of American Film History, p.38. Melville House ISBN 0-9766583-3-X.
  21. ^ Diane Garrett. "Book Review: The Schreiber Theory". Variety. April 15, 2006.
  22. ^ Weber, Bruce (April 24, 2015). "Richard Corliss, 71, Longtime Film Critic for Time, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  23. ^ Sadoul 1972.
  24. ^ Aljean Harmetz, Round up the Usual Suspects, p. 29.
  25. ^ Giese, Maria (2013-12-09). "Auteur Directors: Any American Women?". IndieWire. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  26. ^ "Study: Female Filmmakers Lost Ground in 2016". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  27. ^ Cochrane, Kira (2010-01-31). "Why are there so few female film-makers?". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-25.
  28. ^
  29. ^ Kamina 2002, p. 153.
  30. ^ Eisenberg 2005, p. 103.
  31. ^ a b Bannister 2007, p. 38.
  32. ^ a b Williams 2003, pp. 15–16.
  33. ^ a b Edmondson 2013, p. 890.
  34. ^ a b Cogan & Clark 2003, pp. 32–33.
  35. ^ Willis 2014, p. 217.
  36. ^ Miller 1992, p. 193.
  37. ^ Guriel, Jason (May 16, 2016). "How Pet Sounds Invented the Modern Pop Album". The Atlantic.
  38. ^ "Hideo Kojima – video gaming's first auteur – Screen Robot". Screen Robot. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  39. ^ Fahey, Rob (9 December 2016). "Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian: The Last of their Kind". Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  40. ^ "How the creator of Dreamfall got back to his roots – Polygon". Retrieved 6 April 2017.


Further reading

External links

Alternative comics

Alternative comics cover a range of American comics that have appeared since the 1980s, following the underground comix movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Alternative comics present an alternative to mainstream superhero comics which in the past have dominated the American comic book industry. Alternative comic books span a wide range of genres, artistic styles, and subjects.

Alternative comics are often published in small numbers as the author(s) deem fit. They are often published with less regard for regular distribution schedules.

Many alternative comics have variously been labelled post-underground comics, independent comics, indie comics, auteur comics, small press comics, new wave comics, creator-owned comics, art comics, or literary comics. Many self-published "minicomics" also fall under the "alternative" umbrella.

Andrew Sarris

Andrew Sarris (October 31, 1928 – June 20, 2012) was an American film critic, a leading proponent of the auteur theory of film criticism.

Authors' rights

"Author's rights" is a term frequently used in connection with laws about intellectual property.The term is considered as a direct translation of the French term droit d’auteur (also German Urheberrecht). It was indeed first (1777) promoted in France by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, who had close relations with Benjamin Franklin. It is generally used in relation to the copyright laws of civil law countries and in European Union law. Authors' rights are internationally protected by the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and by other similar treaties. Concerning "work of the spirit", “Author” is used in a very wide sense, and includes composers, artists, sculptors and even architects: in general, the author is the person whose creativity led to the protected work being created, although the exact definition varies from country to country.

Authors’ rights have two distinct components: the economic rights in the work and the moral rights of the author. The economic rights are a property right which is limited in time and which may be transferred by the author to other people in the same way as any other property (although many countries require that the transfer must be in the form of a written contract). They are intended to allow the author or their holder to profit financially from his or her creation, and include the right to authorize the reproduction of the work in any form (Article 9, Berne Convention)[1]. The authors of dramatic works (plays, etc.) also have the right to authorize the public performance of their works (Article 11, Berne Convention).

The protection of the moral rights of an author is based on the view that a creative work is in some way an expression of the author’s personality: the moral rights are therefore personal to the author, and cannot be transferred to another person except by testament when the author dies.[2] The moral rights regime differs greatly between countries, but typically includes the right to be identified as the author of the work and the right to object to any distortion or mutilation of the work which would be prejudicial to his or her honor or reputation (Article 6bis, Berne Convention). In many countries, the moral rights of an author are perpetual.

CAE number

In musical rights management, the CAE number was previously used to identify rights holders. The acronym "CAE" was devised by the national society of Switzerland, SUISA, and consisted of the French words Compositeur, Auteur and Editeur, for Composer, Author and Publisher. A CAE number is 9 digits long.

It is being phased out and has been replaced by the IPI code.

Cinema of Costa Rica

Cinema of Costa Rica refers to the film industry based in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican cinema comprises the art of film and creative movies made within the nation of Costa Rica or by Costa Rican filmmakers abroad.

Though nearly all Costa Rican cinemas exclusively show Hollywood productions, the number of films produced in Costa Rica has increased in recent years. The films range from horror and comedy films focused on entertainment value to art cinema. The country's art films are often character studies, focusing on aesthetics and narrative and less on political issues. Costa Rican auteur directors successful in the international art film circuit include Paz Fábrega and Isthar Yasin Gutierrez.

Film director

A film director is a person who directs the making of a film. A film director controls a film's artistic and dramatic aspects and visualizes the screenplay (or script) while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfilment of that vision. The director has a key role in choosing the cast members, production design, and the creative aspects of filmmaking. Under European Union law, the director is viewed as the author of the film.The film director gives direction to the cast and crew and creates an overall vision through which a film eventually becomes realized, or noticed. Directors need to be able to mediate differences in creative visions and stay within the budget.

There are many pathways to becoming a film director. Some film directors started as screenwriters, cinematographers, producers, film editors or actors. Other film directors have attended a film school. Directors use different approaches. Some outline a general plotline and let the actors improvise dialogue, while others control every aspect, and demand that the actors and crew follow instructions precisely. Some directors also write their own screenplays or collaborate on screenplays with long-standing writing partners. Some directors edit or appear in their films, or compose the music score for their films.


Flirting or coquetry is a social and sexual behavior involving verbal or written communication, as well as body language, by one person to another, either to suggest interest in a deeper relationship with the other person, or if done playfully, for amusement.

In most cultures, it is socially disapproved for a person to make explicit sexual advances in public, or in private to someone not romantically acquainted, but indirect or suggestive advances may at times be considered acceptable.Flirting usually involves speaking and behaving in a way that suggests a mildly greater intimacy than the actual relationship between the parties would justify, though within the rules of social etiquette, which generally disapproves of a direct expression of sexual interest in the given setting. This may be accomplished by communicating a sense of playfulness or irony. Double entendres (where one meaning is more formally appropriate, and another more suggestive) may be used. Body language can include flicking the hair, eye contact, brief touching, open stances, proximity, and other gestures. Flirting may be done in a under-exaggerated, shy or frivolous style. Vocal communication of interest can include, for example,

alterations in vocal tone (such as pace, volume, and intonation), and

challenges (including teasing, questions, qualifying, and feigned disinterest), which reason may to serve to increase tension, and to test intention and congruity.

adoration which includes offers, approval and tact, knowledge and demonstration of poise, self-assurance, smart and stylish, a commanding attitude

Flirting behavior varies across cultures due to different modes of social etiquette, such as how closely people should stand (proxemics), how long to hold eye contact, how much touching is appropriate and so forth. Nonetheless, some behaviors may be more universal. For example, ethologist Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt found that in places as different as Africa and North America, women exhibit similar flirting behavior, such as a prolonged stare followed by a head tilt away with a little smile, as seen in the accompanying image associated with a Hollywood film.

Formalist film theory

Formalist film theory is a theory of film study that is focused on the formal, or technical, elements of a film: i.e., the lighting, scoring, sound and set design, use of color, shot composition, and editing. This approach was proposed by Hugo Münsterberg, Rudolf Arnheim, Sergei Eisenstein, and Béla Balázs. Today, it is a major theory of film study.

Grupo Cine Liberación

The Grupo Cine Liberación ("The Liberation Film Group") was an Argentine film movement that took place during the end of the 1960s. It was founded by Fernando Solanas, Octavio Getino and Gerardo Vallejo, and became closely linked to the Peronist Left. In the subsequent years other films directors (grupo Realizadores de Mayo, Enrique and Nemesio Juárez, Pablo Szir, etc.) revolved around the active core of the Cine Liberación group.Along with Raymundo Gleyzer's Cine de la Base in Argentina, the Brazilian Cinema Novo, the Cuban revolutionary cinema and the Bolivian film director Jorge Sanjinés, the Grupo Cine Liberación was part of the Tercer Cine movement. The name of Tercer Cine (or Third Film, in an obvious allusion to the Third World) was explicitly opposed to "First World" cinema, that is, Hollywood, and was also contrasted with auteur film, deciding to engage itself more explicitly in the social and political movements.From his exile in Francoist Spain, Juan Peron sent in 1971 two letters to Octavio Getino, one congratulating him for this work of Liberation Film Group, and another concerning two documentaries that were to be done with him (La Revolución Justicialista and Actualización política y doctrinaria).The graphist Raimundo Ongaro, also founder of the CGT de los Argentinos (CGTA) trade-union, was also close to this movement.

Henri Langlois

Henri Langlois (French: [lɑ̃glwa]; 13 November 1914 – 13 January 1977) was a French film archivist and cinephile. A pioneer of film preservation, Langlois was an influential figure in the history of cinema. His film screenings in Paris in the 1950s are often credited with providing the ideas that led to the development of the auteur theory.Langlois was co-founder of the Cinémathèque Française with Georges Franju and Jean Mitry and also co-founder of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) in 1938. Through close collaboration with the Cinémathèque's longtime Chief Archivist, Lotte Eisner, he worked to preserve films and film history in the post-war era. An eccentric who was often at the center of controversy for his methods, he also served as a key influence on the generation of young cinephiles and critics who would become the French New Wave.

In 1974, Langlois received an Academy Honorary Award for "his devotion to the art of film, his massive contributions in preserving its past and his unswerving faith in its future".

List of film auteurs

This is a list of filmmakers who have been described as an auteur.

Paul Cox (director)

Paulus Henrique Benedictus Cox (16 April 1940 – 18 June 2016) as Paul Cox, was a Dutch-Australian filmmaker, who has been recognized as "Australia's most prolific film auteur". "Cox's delicate films have been pockmarked with life's uncertainty. Loneliness within relationships is a staple of the Cox oeuvre, too". David Wenham states, "There is no one like Cox.... He is unique, and we need him, and people like him.... He is completely an auteur, because everything you see on the screen, and hear, has got Paul's fingerprints all over it."

Progressive music

Progressive music is music that attempts to expand existing stylistic boundaries associated with specific genres of music. The word comes from the basic concept of "progress", which refers to development and growth by accumulation, and is often deployed in the context of distinct genres such as progressive country, progressive folk, progressive jazz, and (most significantly) progressive rock. Music that is deemed "progressive" usually synthesizes influences from various cultural domains, such as European art music, Celtic folk, West Indian, or African. It is rooted in the idea of a cultural alternative and may also be associated with auteur-stars and concept albums, considered traditional structures of the music industry.As an art theory, the progressive approach falls between formalism and eclecticism. "Formalism" refers to a preoccupation with established external compositional systems, structural unity, and the autonomy of individual art works. Like formalism, "eclecticism" connotates a predilection toward style synthesis or integration. However, contrary to formalist tendencies, eclecticism foregrounds discontinuities between historical and contemporary styles and electronic media, sometimes referring simultaneously to vastly different musical genres, idioms, and cultural codes. In marketing, "progressive" is used to distinguish a product from "commercial" pop music.

Raindance Film Festival

Raindance is an independent film festival and film school that operates in major cities including London, Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Budapest, Berlin and Brussels. The festival was established in 1992 by Elliot Grove to be the voice of British filmmaking and in 2013 was listed by Variety as one of the world’s top 50 'unmissable film festivals'. Raindance showcases features and shorts by filmmakers from around the world to an audience of film executives and buyers, journalists, film fans and filmmakers. In 2009 the Raindance Film Festival had approximately 6069 attendees, followed by 4694 in 2010. Their website claims 13,500 attendees in 2012 and 80,000 online followers.

René Schützenberger

René-Paul Schützenberger (29 July 1860 – 31 December 1916) was a French Post-Impressionist painter.

Satellite Auteur Award

The Auteur Award is an honorary Satellite Award bestowed by the International Press Academy to recognize the "individual voices of filmmakers and their personal impact on the industry." It was first presented on December 17, 2005 at the 10th Annual Satellite Awards ceremony to George Clooney. American director Robert M. Young is the latest recipient.

The trophy awarded to the honorees resembles the normal Satellite Award but is designated for Special Achievement, with the recipient's name and year engraved on the base. It was designed by Dalmatian sculptor Ante Marinović.

Strand Releasing

Strand Releasing is an American theatrical distribution company founded in 1989 and is based in Culver City, California. The company has distributed over 300 auteur-driven titles from acclaimed international and American directors such as Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Gregg Araki, François Ozon, Jean-Luc Godard, Catherine Breillat, Claire Denis, Fatih Akin, Aki Kaurismäki, Claude Miller, Manoel de Oliveira, Gaspar Noé, André Téchiné and Terence Davies.

What Is an Author?

"What Is an Author?" (French: Qu'est-ce qu'un auteur?) is a lecture on literary theory given at the Collège de France on 22 February 1969 by French philosopher, sociologist and historian Michel Foucault.The work considers the relationship between author, text, and reader; concluding that:

"The Author is a certain functional principle by which, in our culture, one limits, excludes and chooses: ... The author is therefore the ideological figure by which one marks the manner in which we fear the proliferation of meaning."

For many, Foucault's lecture responds to Roland Barthes' essay "The Death of the Author".

Zeitgeist Films

Zeitgeist Films is an American independent film distributor based in New York City founded in 1988 by co-Presidents Nancy Gerstman and Emily Russo. Films distributed by Zeitgeist are strongly auteur-driven by directors such as Christopher Nolan, Guy Maddin, Atom Egoyan, Todd Haynes, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Olivier Assayas, Abbas Kiarostami, Deepa Mehta, Jan Švankmajer and the Brothers Quay. The expansive Zeitgeist film library includes Trouble the Water, The Corporation, Jellyfish, Examined Life, Into Great Silence, Ten and Irma Vep. In June 2008, the MoMA honored two decades of Zeitgeist successes with a month-long, twenty film retrospective entitled Zeitgeist: The Films of Our Time, exhibiting the distributor's twenty most critically acclaimed, intellectually stimulating titles.

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