Re-Authouring “Auteur Theory”
What makes an “Auteur”? According to the experts of cinema in 1940’s France, unlike a play where the writer is the author of the work, in the case of a film the “Author”, or “Auteur”, is the director. Not the writer, not the producer, not the cinematographer, but the director alone.
It’s often said that a film is written three times: once with a typewriter, once with a camera, and once with an edit suite. And that case, the final draft of the film is written by the editor.
And yet, even though you’d be hard-pressed to find a picture of Hitchcock manning the typewriter or cutting a filmstrip himself after 1940, or ever moving a light on set, a director like Hitch is somehow considered by 1940’s French people to be the sole author of a film where hundreds on artists left their imprint.
These days, filmmakers like the Coen Brothers, Steven Soderburgh and Robert Rodriguez write, direct and edit their films (often under pseudonyms), in order to keep a tight grip on the artistry of each step. So who is the real Auteur? The artist barking through a bullhorn from his chair? Or the artist revising the script pages while op’ing the camera on the way into the edit suite?