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Auteur Theory in the USA

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Good morning, we begin to today’s class and we will talk about Auteur Theory in Hollywood.So, I am sure most of you remember we have done Auteurism in France,and who was the originator of the auteur theory in France?Student: Bazin.Bazin good, André Bazin in France, Cahier du cinema. And what was the idea all about,that the director is the captain of the ship, giving more power to the director that is the idea.So, key concepts today is in today’s class would be Auteurism and discussing it in the American context.How Auteurs make use of mise en scene? And what could be there signature style?Key people would be Andrew Sarris, who gave us the theory of Auteurism in Hollywood infor American cinema; Ranjith was telling me the other day he read up on Andrew Sarris,a few days back and he died in 2012. So, please do look up on Andrew Sarris.And Howard hawks as an auteur, but I am not going into too much depth. I am going to particularly focusan Alfred Hitchcock cinema, I had already asked you to come having watch some of hismajor movies including Rope.So, a how did the concept originate,I am giving you a brief historical overview in 1910, the British magazine ‘Bioscope’identified some directors as a special. So, we are talking about as early as in 1910,remember cinema is very was a still in its very early stages, it begin in 1885 and 1910bioscope already identified some directors as a class apart; in Germany the term Auteurenfilm was used, during the same period. Filmmakers and novelist and this we have already talked about,Alexandre Astruc who coined the term camera pen; that meansif camera is a pen, director will be author, so this is the connection. Astruc wanted to raisethe status of cinema from a working class form of entrainment to high art form.There are many people who regard cinema; what is there in cinema, it is just a time pass or fairbut people like Astruc and Bazin and later on Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris they triedto evaluate the status of cinema from just a very lower mode of entrainment to high art.Few words about Alexander Astruc; Astruc’s article La Camera Stylo, camera pen, stylo, pen1948, called for a new language in filmmaking. And the upshot of which was that camera shouldbe used, the way authors use their pens.He posited that filmmakers should make more personal kinds of cinema,and this is something that you will find in the works of auteurspersonal kinds of cinema; and when Vimal you are talking about new Hollywood cinema,they are all about personal cinema, we talked about Coppola the other day while discussingThe Godfather; personal film making, something that reflect the personality of the filmmaker.We have already talked about Truffaut, I am just doing a quick recap and then lead youtowards the major auteur that we are going to discuss that is Hitchcock.So, we have a referred to his 1954 essay, Truffaut’s, ‘Une Certaine Tendance du Cinema fracaise’a certain tendency in French cinema where overarching principles are; that Mise en sceneis curial to the reading of cinema. We discussed Mise en scene while talking about melodrama,remember? Douglas Sirk, how he would construct the scene, the Mise en scene in such a waythat it tells you; even the use of color, the use of sets, actors that he would be invariably cast,Rock Hudson was his favorite. So, that is Mise en scene, sound music, cinematographythey all express a personal style. Another feature, the director’s personalexpression is key in distinguishing whether they should be called directors.So, there has to be a signature style.So, those are the principles as posited by Francois Truffaut.Now what is Mise en scene? Most of you are already familiar with and soon I am goingto show you a clipping. And you have to identify Mise en scene. So Mise en scene, crudely putidentifies set and design, set design and props; the way certain things are used.In ‘Rope’ which is the major prop,if you have watched. Yes?Student: It start with a box, a Chest where,.Chest, yes the Chest is the major prop and Rope of course;lighting and shadow, how various directors make use of; watch Martin Scorsese, see the way he uses lights.Acting, and how certain directors make the actors act in a certain way;for Hitchcock, directors were not, sorry actors were not very important, what did he call them?Actors are all the word ‘cattle’. Hitchcock use the termvery boldly cattle for actors, he said that they are alike, it is me who controls them all.Costume and makeup.Mise-en-scene in other words is understood by the use of costume,makeup, set design, props, lighting within a single scene and explains how these elementscontribute to the narrative. So, it is very important to understand Mise-en-scene,think of some of our own Indian directors; think the cinemas of Satyajit Ray and how importantis Mise-en-scene was in his films, a lady of the from an aristocratic household wearingbangles in Pather Panchali, this denotes something whereas you are shown the wrist,the naked wrist of the lady from a poorer section of society and juxtapose together.What does it mean?It shows the class difference,that is a very good example of Mise-en-scene.So, autheurs are different from Metteurs en scene. Metteur en scene are just those people whoare hired to direct a movie, they are not auteurs. They put together as same,Vimal you know these things, Metteur en scene? So, there is no personal style of a filmmaker,he is just in other words of some person who puts together a scene.So, the distinguishing between auteur and metteur en scene was introduced by Cahiers critics.And again I am repeating myself according to these criticsan auteur should necessarily display a distinct sense of personal vision;a signature style, a subjective style.Andrew Sarris (1928- 2012), he was the leading American proponent, a critic of auteur theorywho wrote for the village voice.Village voiceis amagazine; is a kind of a very important news paper.So, director is the soul author of his work that is what he believed inand this is regardless and this is very bold now, this is very forward, this is regardless ofthe contribution the writers, producers or actors make.A new Hollywood, again we are gearing towards it;next classes onwards we are going to start with a reading of new Hollywood cinema,so I urge you to come having watched Bonnie and Clyde,Chinatown,American graffiti by who?Student: LucasGood, George Lucas.Easy rider,if possible watch Shampoo, Warren Beatty’s I do not know if it will available,shampoo; shampoo you wash your hair with shampoo.So, Andrew Sarris later ranked directors such as John Ford higher than someone like William Wyler,so that is Sarris' own opinion. For example, see all these critics had major biases;for example Pauline Kaelwas the one who made people like Warren Beatty, Robert Altman and later on Martin Scorsese,she never liked Coppola though.Sarris' the American cinema maps the history of the talking picture periodup to 1968 into 11 categories of filmmakerswith titles like, Pantheon directors, Strained seriousness and Lightly likeable;some are seriously likeable and some are lightly likeable.It is up to you, if you want to agree or disagree with his list.And each category files directors alphabetize name and filmographies with analysisof the distinct personality or lack of personality of each director’s body of work.Sarris is also known for constructing three concentric circles. This is an auteur theory model.And outside on the outer circle, you have technical competencefollowed by personal styleand at the core of each auteur is an interior meaning, a core thematic concern.So, that is what thus the model Andrew Sarris purposes and it works, you know technical competence,there has to be some kind of a style, technical style.Then personal style,it can even mean the kind of team you create for yourself, the kind of people you collaborate;because you are certain kind of filmmakers, so you want to work with only these peoplelike, Douglas Sirk and Rock Hudson combination. Why did he want an extremely good lookingactor for all his films, there must have been reasons? John Ford and John Wayne;why did John Ford want only him, Howard hawks and often Humphrey Bogart and Cary grant,so the hyper masculine actor of that particular age and what was the interior meaning, implicitly there.So, Andrew Sarris’ choice is, this is just an overview and I want you to be familiar with thesome great works in international cinema.This is the list he gives in 1962,Ugetsu, you remember when we were doing Japanese cinema we talked about Ugetsu,tales of Ugetsu.Lola Montes, you are already familiar with, who directed?Student: Max OphulsGood, Max Ophuls. Regle du jeu, you have done who directed? Jean Renoir.L’Atlante,Jean Vigo’s.The Great Dictator, Chaplin.The Magnificent Ambersons, Magnificent Ambersons, Orson Welles.Shadow of a doubt? Hitchcock. Nuit et Brouillard that is the French movie.And Tirez sur le pianiste and shoot the piano player by? Truffaut. A bout de soufflé? By Godard.So, this is Andrew Sarris’ list of definitive movies, but then its 62; andof course you would not have some of the more contemporary filmmakers, but this is I amoften asked tell us what to watch, so this is how canons are created, remember;we have already gone through the process of creation of canons, this is the canonical list ifyou want to understand cinema go through this, see if the movies that you are doing,they have echoes of these films, it is important to understand.Now problematizing the auteuragain I am quoting Sarris.Why is an auteur a problematic category,because see then what happens to someone as important as an actor?I mean, think Tamil cinema and think how our industry works; even Bollywood, may be things are changingoff late, but they have not always been like that I mean I can give you example from my personal experience.There was a time during the late 70's and 80's; anything is starring Amitabh Bachchanwould be a mega success, regardless of the product, the quality of the product.So, people would just you know line up for any movies starring Amitabh Bachchan.And similar is the case down south; you have a particular star and people would go for that.So, what happens to this category called actor? Then how come we say that auteurs are so important,when actors are definitely the ones who drawing the audience?Cinematography; you often talk about Mani Ratnam and Rajeev Menon or Santhosh Sivan collaboration,they are the ones who give vision, you know who implement the directors vision,who execute the director's vision. So, it is very important because they arethe ones who focus on visual style, length of movie, a depth of feel.So, it is important to understand that why cinematographers are so important;Gordon Willis and Coppolain spite of all their differences during the making of the first Godfather,he still went to him for the second part as well.So, cinematographers are as important if you think about it that way.Two exceptions directors who are also cinematographers; Lars von Trier and David Lean.You are familiar with works of von Trier but what did David Lean make?Classics are not you strength; Passage to India, Lawrence of Arabia remember these films, okay.And writer, I mean what does a writer do? Generally it’s acceptedthat writers are at the bottom of the food chain and they are not at all important;most controversial category because anyone has the right to interfere with a writer’s work,especially directors, especially actors. They want to change a line they can do that without a buy or leave.So, film or screenplay or a story is written, rewritten, renegotiate several times.So what happens to the screenwriter?And then of course, you have composers and there are the legendary composerswho have added inimitable touches to a film.For example, we have a Coppola and Nina Roca we were talking about them the other day Godfather.Nolan and Hans Zimmer, legendary partnership and so is Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone,Spielberg with john Williams; so all these people make a movies,there is a very significant contribution which cannot be neglected; actors, cinematographers, writer, composers.So, then what happens to the auteur?So, this is the question that I am throwing open to you,there is there are no answers as Kurosawahas already told us; that there is no fixed truth. Now a quick, I mean we are doing somuch of directors and auteurs and we did not touch up on Howard hawks at all.So, a quick look, a quick glimpse at Howard hawks one of the greatest, one of the most successfuldirectors of all times and then we will move on to Hitchcock.So, Howard hawks started his career as an aviator in the First World War.He joined the film industry and did several jobsincluding; screenwriter, editor and assistant director,made a seven salient films for 20th century fox production.Who controlled fox?Student: ZanuckGood, Zanuck.Major themes, ethics and professionalismand I will give you a list of his all-time great movies; please do watch them whenever you have time.Focus on his strong narratives; most of his films deal with the theme of good versus evil,William Friedkin, often talks about him, Exorcist and The French Connection.And he once met Howard hawks who were already in 70's, and Howard hawks gave him just one tip;that you know in most American new wave cinema, I do not find the good and evil,there should always be emphasis on the good versus evil. And one reason why all after the initialsuccesses that most American new wave directors met with, there was a time of when they startedjust flopping; most of their movies bombed and the entire cinema new wave, counterculture movementit came to an end by the late 70's early 80's. And after that you have been talkingabout the resurgence of the new Hollywood period, after the 90's or post 90's.So, that is another story altogether, but there was a time when stories focus only on good versus evil;Schwarzenegger, Stallone there is an enemy, there is some so there is a strong.Hollywood cinema, convectional cinema always goes for the good versus evil narrative andthat is what Howard hawks advised William friedkin to do. And his plots always offereda strong closure in the tradition, in the great classic tradition of classic Hollywood cinema.Major films; Scarfaceand this are another name you should be familiar with Ben Hecht.Many regard him as the greatest screenwriter of all times.If you look up (())screenwriting or four great scripts;then you have to the then you will come across Ben Hecht name figuring very prominently in his works.Scarface directed by Howard hawks and produced by the great Howard Hughes; Aviator.However the movie was so controversial that Hughes had towithdraw the movie from circulation for several years.And it was not available till Hughes death in 1979, there must havebeen some censorship issues with it and Hughes had to withdraw the movie.Some great movies by Howard hawks; The Road to glory one of his earliest ventures,Bringing up baby;Cary grant and Katharine Hepburn,His Girl Friday, again with Cary grant.The Big Sleep,based on Raymond chandler’s novelby the same title is starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.Red river, it is a western John Wayne and Monty Clift.Gentlemen prefer blondes,Marilyn Monroeand Rio Bravo;again with john Wayneand Rio Bravo happens to bea favorite film of many of the new wave Hollywood filmmakers and also of Quentin Tarantino.Any questions now here?I want you to watch a clipping from Rope;discuss the mise en scene.These are opening title sequence; observe that is based on a play by Patrick Hamiltonand then it was adopted in a screenplay by Arthur Laurent’s.Comments,Music, the opening, think of the way the movie opens and thenwhat it leads you into; it is a typical Hitchcock's style.What is he telling you? It is a, when the movie opens, what scenes do we see?Street scenes,what else?Student: The calmnessThe calmness. What else?A lady pushing a stroller down the street, it is a normal regular day just like any other day.By the time the title ends we also see a policeman helpingtwo children crossing the road; that mean it is a very normal kind of a society,very peaceful harmonious and then this is juxtapose. And why is David killed? For no reason.It is just an experiment, a social experiment, a Darwinian experiment; survival of the fittest.And they on a good day they find, on a very ordinary good day they find a friend of theirswho was the most apt-subject for this kind of experiment. They do not have any hostility,there is no reason for committing this crimeyou understand that? So that is Hitchcock.Juxtaposing something you know, two a very radically opposite scenes and bringing outthe difference; it is an ordinary day, ordinary human beings are doing their business andthen you have two people who think they are extraordinary and they have every right tokill a fellow human being, just because they want to carry out this kind of experiment.And we are also told, later on if you have watched the movie which is the philosophy implicit in the movie?Nietzsche’s idea of superman. There is a superman,not the superman, a super hero, superman; but a being which is intellectually and culturally superiorto other beings and that is Nietzsche's definition, philosophy of superman.Darwin also says the same thing that is the society is based on the principle of survival of the fittest.What else did you see, the music?It leads you to into something. So from something veryyou known, giving you an ordinariness of this day it takes you into something more sinisterthat is the kind of music. Now let us talk about the set and the prop most important.The Props?The Chest?What else?The rope and the glass,the bottlesand what else?Student: (()) which goes with the Howard ungraduated image we have.They taste for the better things of life.What about the New York skyline?What does it tell you?What time of the day it is?Student: EveningBecause they say, what a lovely evening;he does not say what a lovely morning or a day, he says what a, it is very clearly stated, lovely evening.Perhaps it’s 4 or 5 in the evening and everything happens in a real time remember that, okay.So, the passage of timeis clearly stated.And Hitchcock is telling you it is happening in real time, because that is what; see remember, Rope was a bigexperiment for him, a very successful experiment for him. He wanted to make the movie in realtime and something else he did with the editing part of it, that we will talk about later.Then the gate subtext that is important, you have to understand that the authorPatrick Hamilton was the writer on whose play, the movie is based on; he was known homosexual.Arthur Laurent is who adopted the play into a screenplay was also a homosexual, the two actors.And this is very important, John Del and GrangerPhilip and Bran Den they are also known homosexual, British actors.So, the word gay, because you know you are still talking about the code days;so it is never ever implicitly stated, explicitly stated but it is there, the subtext is there.The two man live together, they are throwing a dinner party together,they are going for a holiday together and we are also told later in the movie that BranDen is going to introduce Philip to his mother. And he is going to sponsor Philip’s music,I mean lessons and he is going to initiate his big concert; his life, his career into concert piano.Student: It is stated but I forgot, what is the name of Brand Den’s character, of the David’s fiancé?David is not homosexual. And where says that, you dated me once. Yes, but you see, but hewas never really interested in her; who is he emotionally more involve with,obviously with Philip, he is very flip of about his very passing relationship. He must have datedher for a while and that is about it; you have to give maintain of facade, of having a normal kind of life.So, he does say that I remember that before David, no before Kenneththere was me and now after Kenneth is David, yes that implication is definitely there howeverit does not mean that, he was in a very serious relationship with her.He is definitely in a very serious relationship with Philip and he is forever trying to control Philip.So, that is how you read into mise en scene. Anyway the movie is so rich in mise en scene thatit has to be watched over and again.So, canonization of Hitchcock as an auteur by French new wave critics.We all know that Hitchcock in his homeland, in his own hometown was never recognized;you know the kind of respect or reorganization he deserves was never accorded to him,we have already talked about it but the French new wave critics were instrumental in building his reputation.And we are talking about the usual French critics;Bezin, Rohmer, Chabrol, Godard and Truffaut. And Truffaut has also famously written a book,not just written a book but interviewed Hitchcock; Truffaut on Hitchcock, it is a series of interviews.I recommend that you please go through that, everything is available online.And Hitchcock was one of the first directors to whom they appliedthe theory ofauteurism.Hitchcock’s innovations and visions have influenced a number of filmmakers and directors and weare soon going to look at his legacy as well. And Hitchcock was one of the for most filmmakers,who started a trend for film directors to control artistic aspects of what of;of their movies without being answerable to the film’s producers. So, this is one of the fore mostexamples of a filmmaker trying to take control over the product rather than the producer.So, the name above the title. Francois Truffaut’s book or interview ratherand it has come out in the form of book also, a written with Helen Scott in 1966.It played a very important role in canonizing Hitchcock and promoting the director’s authorial identity.Hitchcock was almost, always involved in every aspect of filmmaking.He decided who should star in his movies,he decided who should be the screenwriter; remember there are very Hitchcock,very few Hitchcock movies which are based on original screenplay.He never wrote a screenplay,most of his films are adopted.We have already spoken abouthis adaptation of Rebecca and Birds, based on Daphne du Maurier’s works.‘Strangers on a train’, who is the author; Patricia Highsmith who later on wrote the very successful;Vimal, Patricia Highsmith,the Ripley work, The Talented Mr. Ripley.So, Patricia Highsmith is more or better known for her Ripley work rather than Strangers on a train.Birds, no one was aware of its existence till Hitchcock took the story in his hands.So, he would develop the screenplay but would,it is very doubtful whether he actually wrote an original screenplay.Also influence the sound track and the visual style.And if you look at a still, one of the posters of psycho then you see;where else would you find directors picture,so prominently displayed on the poster. And what it is telling you to do?Be on time, do not be late that is Hitchcock telling you what to do.And I mean, it was never done before Hitchcock;a director displaying his own photograph, you know flashing his photograph all over the poster,otherwise we have seen how a star dominated the entire situation as the scene pose.Again look at this is the poster from Rear Window and you have Hitchcock.So, this Hitchcock’s Rear Window.So, if you could digest psycho then this is going to be more nerve rattling.And then here you have Rope which says that; nothing ever held you like Alfred Hitchcock’s rope,so do you see? This is Hitchcock, holding you.I am the maker, I am in control; a very clear and strong message.Some of his most accepted aesthetics, features of aesthetics,invariably making a cameo appearance; he is there.Is he there in Rope? Student: He is ordinary people.He is one of the people crossing the street.Mise en scene, known for mise en scene.Vertigo today is associated with the color green and if you watch the movie, there is so much ofgreen and red in the movie. You do listen to Vertigo’s sound track.Go online today, go to you tube, listen to Vertigo's sound track; it was so innovative for those days,all those electric instruments unheard of those days.Bernard Herrmann’s North by Northwest, Vertigo also,Psycho and Marnie.And of course New Wave Hollywood directors so impressed by Hitchcock that;who famously used Bernard Herrmann,Taxi driver, Scorsese for Taxi driver literally brought Herrmann out of self-impose retirement.And Herrmann said who are you? I mean, I amused to working with the likes of Hitchcock, and what are you giving me, I have workedwith James Stewart, and on Vertigo and the classy Mister Cary Grant or North by Northwest,who would invariably you wear all these Gucci suits, and you are giving me a movie about a Taxi driver?No way I am going to do it. But then Martin Scorsese had his own, he wouldhave made an offer, he could not refuse and therefore we had Bernard Herrmann andit is a very haunting score in Taxi driver.Miklos Rozsa’s in a Spellbound,it is also a very surreal movie; starring Gregory peck and Ingrid Bergman. And some scenes,some stills from Spellbound.Ostensibly a love story, Gregory peck and Ingrid Bergman.And in this movie he collaborated with the surrealistic artist Salvador Dali.And created that famous dream sequence where hero is being psycho analyzed.And I am not going to be a spoilsport; I would not tell you why the hero being psycho analyzed andwhat is that how does the movie end. But here in this particular still you can see.Very surrealistic close ups of an eye, dream state or dream like state,Gregory peck being psycho analyzed.And this is was the scene this was created by Salvador Dali in collaboration with Hitchcock.Now coming to the movie that we have already talked about, Rope.And we have already discussed; how the opening of rope it is something depictinga very ordinary day, a very regular kind of day and then what happens subsequently.So, if you look at this particular still, what is the mise en sece like?Setting the dining table, but was the dining table? The chest, so feeding off on David’s gravethat is the that something the James Stewart character say at the endthat you made us eat of his grave, remember?And see how beautifully the scene is set up.It is an apartment, but not a very huge apartment; it has just very limited number of rooms.And you can through this point or through this perspective; you can see the rest of the apartment,till the kitchen,setting up the table.And the New York skyline.And as the day closes, you can see the skyline is also getting more and more darker and the lights coming up.And it was not; the movie might have been it gives you the impressionthat it is shot in real time, but of course Hitchcock constructed this set.So, it is not the original New York skylines remember that, it is a set and it must have taken ahuge amount of resources and effort to create, recreate the New York skyline.Metonymy as mise en scene, several times you see close up shots of hands.This is of course, James Stewart; this is the one of the climatic sequenceswhere James Stewart comes with this rope.When does he come up with this scene, with this rope?Student: where he tries to retrieve his cigarette case, he comes back again.Yes, and this rope as we are told it has already been given away to David’s father.He has brought some books from Brendan, and Brendan very sadistically ties the books with thesame rope with which he has killed mister Kentley’s son David. And James steward whenhe returns to the apartment under the pretext of retrieving his cigarette case.He brings this rope and that is the thing that gives away the entire game, because Philip who isalready at the edge; now just comes, completely crosses it andconfesses that yes we did it.That is Hitchcock in the background.He is not just the person who crosses but you can also see his face, all lit up by the neon lights.So, that is one instance of very innovative use of Mise en scene.And then this is something that I often refer to, the kiss in notorious.And we are told during the Hay’s code, the maximum length, duration of a kiss was three seconds.So, three seconds, but what they did was to splice the long kiss with snatchesof dialogue, pieces of dialogue. So, actually is a thirty seconds kiss but then is broken into several parts.So, that is kiss between in Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.I think this movie is also referred to in Rope, remember? David’s aunt who is a one of the guest andshe say I just watched the movie with Cary Grant and that Bergman women and what is it called?She say something, that something, something yes, that is notorious.The long take in Rope, and now this is something that all of you should understand very clearly,because this is the way Hitchcock played with the conventional ideas of editing.What did he do?So Rope is seen as a as a denial of the standard conventional traditional editing process,a kind of negation or repudiation of its importance and power.Generally editing means, having several shot.