What's an Auteur? Here's a Complete Breakdown of the Provocative Rebel Theory
Our most popular and treasured directors tend to have a signature style, that special touch that is all their own, that lets the audience know, right away, whose hands sculpted the films they're watching.
Scorsese, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Lynch -- these kinds of directors are known as auteurs, because their artistic sensibilities are so apparent on the screen. It's a word that most filmmakers know, but the history and theory behind it, probably not, which is why Filmmaker IQ has released a new video hosted by John P. Hess to explain the auteur theory, where it came from, how it affected the cinematic culture, and why it's still important today.
It might seem like a silly thing to talk about -- "Just go out and make movies and stop arguing about who's responsible for what," but this topic can still ruffle plenty of feathers. In fact, one of the most explosive arguments I ever witnessed in college was over whether the director really is the "author" of a film, or if the other artists (DPs, writers, editors, etc.) are equally responsible for its success.
Without wanting to start WWIII right here in an article on an indie filmmaking website, I'll just say that of course directors have an incredible influence in their films, and of course they couldn't do it all on their own. Of course a director is an artist, and of course the writers, cinematographers, and editors are too. Perhaps at the end of the day, it's not directors, necessarily, that make great movies, but artists. That's the spirit of the auteur theory -- it's not to put a crown on a hierarchical figure, but to celebrate and honor those who love, respect, and create art.