Auteur Theory

I thought I understood the readings… then I come to this weeks… auteur theory? Circles and squares? I pick up different meanings from each meaning as to what ‘auteur theory.’ So a bit confused I looked it up and got a definition on wikipedia, “In film criticism, the 1950s-era auteur theory holds that a director’s films reflect that director’s personal creative vision, as if he were the primary “auteur” (the French word for “author”). In spite of – and sometimes even because of – the films in question being made as part of an industrial process, the author’s creative voice is distinctive enough to shine through all kinds of studio interference. In some cases, film producers are considered to have a similar “auteur” role for films that they have produced.”

In Sarris’ ‘Auteur Theory,’ he states how he will begin writing for the Film Quarterly BUT refuses to follow their ‘rules’ in writing like and agreeing with everyone else. He feels strongly about limiting what the ’best’ films are as he continues to criticize the Film Quarterly.’ He even expresses disappointment in these texts that fail to include filmographies or even research articles. Sarris strongly feels that there is much more to these films than is what merely put in these ‘top best.’ There is more to look at. He even goes as far as calling it an ‘occult ritual’ because all these critics conform to agree on the same thing and he refuses to be a part of the large group that thinks one way.

The ‘Circles and Squares’ reading by Pauline Kael is where I really got lost. I understood that she feels that a critic should reflect on their own opinions and thoughts without the influence on others. She states ,”Criticism is an art, not a science, and a critic who follows rules will fail in one of his most important functions: perceiving what is original and important in new work and helping others to see.” how would you be able to call yourself a ‘critic’ if you don’t criticize a piece of work but just agree with the rest? She continues with the ‘outer,’ ‘middle,’ and ‘inner’ circles. I wasn’t too sure what she was trying to get at with the shape titles

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3 Responses to “Auteur Theory”

  1. Amy Herzog Says:

    I can solve at least one of these questions– Kael is using the title to diss Sarris’s theory. She refers to Sarris’s theory that auteurism is a series of concentric circles (technical, personal style, interior meaning). Then she adds on the “squares” to imply that Sarris is a square (basically, an unsophisticated dork). Agree with her theories or not, she’s pretty sharp with the quips!

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