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Film Auteur Theory

Film Auteur Theory

‘The auteur theory can be summarised most easily as an acknowledgement of the director as the principal and shaping push behind a film’ (Craig Keller). How is certainly Godard’s ‘primary and shaping impact’ detectable, if indeed, it really is?


The auteur theory or la politique des auteurs was a theory developed in the 1950s by several French film critics specifically: Eric Rohmer, Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. These critics wished to see a finish to the “literary”, “lifeless” and not “truly cinematic” standard cinema best topics to write about of the 1930s and 1940s. Inspired by fellow film critic Alexandre Astruc’s camera-stylo theory which argued that “filmmakers should work with their equipment as spontaneously, flexibly and in person as a writer uses a pen” these little critics wished to break the constraints of standard cinema. Through the experimentation of different cinematic techniques they commenced to implement their own private artistic values in movies, as directors.

It was as a result their belief an auteur is “the solo individual most responsible for whatever personal expression (if any) a film yielded up under important analysis”. This classification has become the virtually all universally comprehended of the auteur theory and then the one which is referred to in this essay.

Prior to the advancement of the auteur theory, a large majority of movies were developed, shot and edited in an identical style. Large studios, with fixed cameras and the scriptwriter having general control were the buy of the day consequently creating a rigid style of film creation. The auteurs became the principal shaping power behind a video, manipulating scenes to fit their style rather than employing the traditional method of following scriptwriter’s prompts.

The auteur theory was initiated in the 1950s by several French Film Critics including the loves of Eric Rohmer, Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Rivette. These critics spoke out against la tradition de la qualité of cinema from the 1930s and 40s – a period coined le cinéma de papa – claiming it to become “literary”, “lifeless” rather than “truly cinematic”.

In conditions of the auteur theory Jean-Luc Godard was viewed as the genuinely radical auteur. By many he’s today seen as one of the most innovative and artistic directors having designed his own ‘Gordard’s style’. Whilst for others such as Susan Sontag he’s ‘the deliberate destroyer of cinema’. Either way Godard epitomizes a director out to concern traditional cinema. Through his early on films, such as Vivre sa Vie: Film en douze tableaux (1962) and Une femme est une femme he started to interrogate and illuminate typical cinema via different cinematic and artistic techniques. He has since become quite definitely the pivotal protagonist of the auteur theory.


This essay will examine the degree to which Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘major and shaping affect’ is normally detectable in his films. In the primary body of this essay I am going to consider Godard’s ability to implement his own cinematic style through more than a few inventive techniques. I will consider his ability to concern the barriers between off display screen and on screen reality through his utilization of sound and editing tactics. I will however, also argue that any type of definition of the auteur theory oversimplifies the realities of a film producing process and can therefore not be observed as a definitive theory.

Andrew Sarris explains, one of the premises for an auteur is normally that the director must ‘exhibit certain recurring characteristics of design which provide as his signature…over several his films’. Hence, it is my intention to create reference to four of Godard’s films to highlight his during the Nouvelle Vague period.

I will, therefore, reference four of Godard’s movies: A bout de Souffle (1960), Une femme est une femme (1961), Vivre sa vie: Film en douze tableaux (1962) and Le Mepris (1963) to demonstrate……

When cosidering these films one of the most common styles noticeable is his need to challenge the barriers of away screen and on display screen reality. Before the Nouvelle Vague, films were predominantly revised novels put on screen. To many directors

As Kreidel suggested in 1980 “[N]o one has yet made a far more modern cinema than Godard”. In fact, Godard through his response against classic realism typifies somebody who represents simple fact with recourse to conventional cinema. Prior to the Nouvelle Vague, directors adopted very strict rules within their film making process in which they filmed in large studios with artificial light and with scripts which avoided improvisation. Godard totally reversed these rules in his movies by directing them in a very spontaneous manner. Following a launch of A Bout de Souffle actor Jean-Pierre Melville who performed Parvulesco in the film explained Godard’s movie was “nearly anything shot anyhow”. Godard himself verified that “on A Bout de Souffle I applied to write the evening before shooting.” According to Godard, the reason behind him doing this is because “I liked to be surprised. If you know in advance all you are going to do, it isn’t worth doing. If a present is all written down, what is the idea of filming it? What employ is cinema if it trails after literature?” This idea of filmmaking was groundbreaking at the time and was a means in which Godard was applying his own directional style to his movies.

One of Godard’s earliest artistic influences came when directing his first of all motion picture A Bout how to write an expository essay de Souffle. Regardless of the film being a simple naturalistic motion picture with the camera following character types in a deliberately real life filming realistic images, several factors resulted in the film being lower, mainly as a result of amount of the film. This designed one of Godard’s most ground breaking filming techniques, the leap shot, and an editing technique which would really show Godard capability as a cinematic artist. The hop shot essentially create discontinuity in his movies since it would catapult the actions from one scene to another with no palpable transition. The most noticeable types of Godard’s jump pictures in A Bout de Souffle came up in the picture when Jean Seberg who plays Patricia is certainly a passenger in the scene when Jean-Paul Belmondo’s persona Michel drives her across the centre of Paris in a stolen convertible. During this scene there will be up to seven bounce shots in fast succession of the position of Patricia brain and the roads of Paris. In creating such a deliberately jagged shot Godard reminds the target audience they are watching a film, rather than life itself, a thought vital to Godard when directing his movies.

One of the very most innovative ways that Godard’s major and shaping power is evident in his films could be shown through his use of colour. In standard cinema, color was generally found in order to improve the commerciality of movies. When it had been occasionally used, it enhanced the mood in individual moments. Godard as a notable auteur employed an even more ambitious use of colour. In his primary two colour movies Une femme est une femme and Le Mépris he predominantly employed primary colours because of him getting influenced by “modern art: right color, ‘pop’ art”. Godard uses bold primary colours to point the characterisation and narrative advancement in his films however in such a way that it does not act after the viewer in a immediately sensual method. In Godard’s first colour film Une femme est une femme, Angela can be intent on having a child with her husband

Emile. Emile however, isn’t so keen on the idea and comes across as rather blasé about the subject; he predominantly wears blue in the film which symbolises his rather relaxed nature. After becoming repeatedly refused by Emile on this issue of experiencing a baby, Angela would go to Emile’s friend Albert with an affair in the desire to conceive. Albert despite staying happy to oblige feels no true affection for Angela which is proven as he typically wears grey to symbolise his disinterest in her.

In Godard’s second colour film Le Mépris Godard proceeds the design of using colour to represent character types personalities but tends to also use color thematically. In the opening scene, when Camille is lying during intercourse with Paul discussing just how much they love one another, Godard uses colour filter systems which are seen on your behalf of what will happen in the film. If one considers that crimson symbolises love, white incertitude and blue coldness in that case it maps out what happens in the film, love to ambivalence to contempt. Furthermore, when examining the colours that are worn by the heroes in the film, the reoccurring motif of Godard using colour to represent persona reappears. Paul the scriptwriter in the film is seen in a grey suit with blue specks highlighting his passive character through the film. Jerry the ambitious American film producer is mainly observed in a blue suit, reddish tie and driving a vehicle a red sports car which highlights his dominant greedy and selfish aspect. In addition, Camille is shown in a number of coloured dresses throughout the film in order to emphasize her continual transformation of feelings. Finally Francesca, Jerry’s secretary wears a crimson jumper in the picture when she seduces Paul which once again emphasizes Godard’s attempt to symbolise mental currents in the film.

It is vital that you note that different critics have advised that along with Godard using colour thematically the primary colours are likewise a referent to American musicals, a genre which fascinated Godard. This referent is certainly most evidently observed in the opening credits of Une femme est une femme when bold colourful phrases flash up on the screen like neon lights reflecting the lavishness of the American musical. Furthermore, other critics recommend that the principal colours are a referent to both the French flag or American flag which once again represents Godard’s main and shaping affect within this film.

A pivotal part in defining Godard as the primary and shaping push of his films is seen in his make use of sound. Before the Nouvelle Vague, audio was used in film to replicate audibly the visible emotion of a picture as a way to captivate the viewers and make a picture appear more ‘reasonable’. Martin Heidegger highlights this custom by saying that visitors have become accustomed to sound’s “elegant effects” and therefore treats them as genuine.

Godard however, firmly thought that in ‘faking’ sound to captivate the target audience, one is removing the realism which he wanted in films. A spot agreed by Richard Roud who suggested that “even in the many so-called realist film, sound has always been an exception”. It had been therefore Godard’s intention to revive sound so that it would captivate ‘real life’ by refusing to change or remix any previously documented track, which he thought as sonic realism. Among Godard’s most notable examples of this was observed in A Bout de Souffle. As a result of sound being effortlessly recorded there are several moments in the film when a number of the character’s conversations are muffled by pure or real sounds. The make use of natural sound reaches a peak during the scene in Patricia’s flat when the noises of the sirens bellowing in through the open window actually drowns out the character’s dialogue. Rather than being truly a distraction that calls for the viewer out from the moment, the utilization of natural sound in this article, and through the entire film, just heighten the realism. In the end, in life, it will be unrealistic to sit in a room with an open up window in the centre of Paris and not hear any intrusive looks. Jean Colet praises Godard’s creation of realism through sound stating “[Godard applies] to sound the same needs as for the images. [He captures] lifestyle in what it offers to be seen-and to be heard-directly.”

Godard’s artistic make use of sound can even be seen through his utilization of music in his movies. In Godard’s Une Femme est une Femme he starts to split up music in a nutshell bursts. This use of music gives the impression of the film as a sort of assemblage – different items of the material world come up with in a particular way. This even more exemplifies Godard’s utilization of experimentation as when asked about his make use of sound and music he explained ‘Things are there: but let’s see how they work.’

Second Section

It is undeniable that Godard has produced many of the most inspiring and ground breaking films through his utilization of story line and cinematic methods. His exploitation of light, colour, and audio, editing and alienating the market showed Godard acquired revolutionised classic French cinema and in doing this has inspired present day film directors such as Quentin Tarrantino. However, in using Keller’s summary that an auteur is simply the primary and shaping force of his films it is unquestionably oversimplifying the realities of the film producing method. As Godard changed so much in his films in comparison to traditional cinema it is not easy for him to get praised for every aspect of his movies creation. Godard said within an interview in 1983:

“I find it useless to keep offering the public the ‘auteur’. In Venice, when I got the prize of the Golden Lion I said that I deserve only probably the mane of this lion, and maybe the tail. Everything in the middle should go to all or any the others who work on the picture: the paws to the director of photography, theface to the editor, the body to the actors. I don’t believe in the solitude of…the auteur with a capital A”.

Furthermore, Godard admitted that him and famous brands Truffaut, Rohmer and Rivette whilst bringing the plaudits for the auteur theory, exaggerated the significance of the theory so as to establish personal expression as one of the primary ideals in Nouvelle Vague films.

Several theorists also have raised doubts regarding the need for the auteur. Foulcault and Roland Barthes recommend that all creative strategies happen to be moulded by the cultural and political forces that surround us. Each goes on to state that ideas are contrived from the knowledge that one has gained from past activities. If one places this in the context of Godard’s films it could suggest that Godard’s cinematic thoughts and methods were influenced by what he has learnt from past experiences. A good example of this can be observed in his indirect use of Brechtian distanciation. Whilst it is evident that he was encouraged by Brecht’s notion of alienating the audience to prevent them from staying passive observers is one able to really claim that Godards cinematic techniques were not the result of Brecht’s indirect impact? Furthermore, when analysing a lot of Godard’s films, Godard refers to several quotes from the likes of William Faulkner and Edgar Poe. These are quotes which could have been easily edited but rather Godard “taste for quotation” shows that he is not the primary and shaping drive in his films.

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