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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook

    What do you mean by "Auteur"?



    It's a term that was invented by some French critics in the 1950s and gained some credence for a while but has mainly been dismissed since then. It's meant to imply that the director has total control and is the sole author of a film, which is of course nonsense in a collaborative art like film-making. Either that or the director is such a martinet that he controls every little aspect of the film and nobody else is able to really contribute anything, they just do exactly what the director says. Not even Hitchcock, one of the most controlling directors ever, could manage that. There are aspects of his films that vary depending on who he was collaborating with



    Steve
    I didn't know the definition of auteur was as extreme as that. "Sole author"??? Surely even the French critics knew that film-making was a collaborative medium to some extent. But if the director is the one who stamps his creative vision and style on a film then isn't it reasonable to regard him as an auteur just as we would regard, say, an album by David Bowie as made under his control even though he uses other musicians and producers? Some directors have very distinctive styles (Fellini, Tarkovsky, David Lynch) so I presume the original question means "what is so distinctive about Joseph Losey's films which make them different from others".

  2. #22
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robin Davies

    I didn't know the definition of auteur was as extreme as that. "Sole author"??? Surely even the French critics knew that film-making was a collaborative medium to some extent. But if the director is the one who stamps his creative vision and style on a film then isn't it reasonable to regard him as an auteur just as we would regard, say, an album by David Bowie as made under his control even though he uses other musicians and producers? Some directors have very distinctive styles (Fellini, Tarkovsky, David Lynch) so I presume the original question means "what is so distinctive about Joseph Losey's films which make them different from others".
    "what is so distinctive about Joseph Losey's films which make them different from others?"

    The main thing that makes them different is that the others don't have "Directed by Joseph Losey" on the credits



    What do you think makes the films of any one director so distinctive that you can immediately recognise it as being by that director even if you didn't see the credits? Even the directors you mention work in a range of styles and other directors can also make films with that same look and style. Not just afterwards, but beforehand as well.



    As for an album by David Bowie, or any other musician. The main thing about it is that that musician is playing a major part in what you hear on that album. With a film, the hand of the director has a more subtle and more removed touch. You don't (usually) see the director in the film, the director didn't usually compose the music, design the sets, write the story or the screenplay, compose and frame each shot. These are the most noticeable and memorable things about a film.



    Steve

  3. #23
    Senior Member Country: United States will.15's Avatar
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    Here is Anrew Sarris on auteur directors. He has Losey in there sort of. But trying to make heads or tails of his distinctions can give you a headache. If I recall correctly, he says Michael Curtiz, director of Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and Mildred Pierce, is not an auteur director of any kind, but he listed Allen Dwan somewhere as one, a director of no discernible style I can detect and only a few better than average films, compared to Curtiz's more impressive credits.



    http://www.theyshootpictures.com/sarriscategories.htm

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook

    What do you think makes the films of any one director so distinctive that you can immediately recognise it as being by that director even if you didn't see the credits? Even the directors you mention work in a range of styles and other directors can also make films with that same look and style. Not just afterwards, but beforehand as well.
    If a lost Fellini film turned up from his middle to late period I'm pretty sure I (and many film fans) could identify it by his distinctive visual style. Ditto Tarkovsky, Bela Tarr, David Lynch, Alejandro Jodorowsky. Sure, some of their films are outside their usual style and other directors may have imitated them to some degree but to say these directors don't have a distinctive style that is carried through into their other films is utter nonsense.

    As for an album by David Bowie, or any other musician. The main thing about it is that that musician is playing a major part in what you hear on that album.
    And you don't think some directors play a major part in the way the film turns out? Just watch a documentary of a major director at work and see how intimately they are involved in every aspect of the production.

    With a film, the hand of the director has a more subtle and more removed touch.
    That depends entirely on the director. Some don't have a particular style and just film the screenplay in a functional, efficient way. Nothing wrong with that but other directors see a film as a personal statement or expression of a particular worldview.

    You don't (usually) see the director in the film, the director didn't usually compose the music, design the sets, write the story or the screenplay, compose and frame each shot.
    I agree that a director's style is more obvious when he writes the screenplay or does other things but even if they're not credited in that way they often have a major influence over all those aspects of the production. Nicolas Roeg is a good example.

  5. #25
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robin Davies

    If a lost Fellini film turned up from his middle to late period I'm pretty sure I (and many film fans) could identify it by his distinctive visual style. Ditto Tarkovsky, Bela Tarr, David Lynch, Alejandro Jodorowsky. Sure, some of their films are outside their usual style and other directors may have imitated them to some degree but to say these directors don't have a distinctive style that is carried through into their other films is utter nonsense.
    So you think that all films by Fellini (and the others you mention) look the same? Isn't that a bit boring?



    Steve

  6. #26
    Senior Member Country: United States will.15's Avatar
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    I don't have a problem with applying the auteur theory to a very small group of directors like Chaplin and Bergman, and some others, but that isn't what the French and the American interpreters of the theory do. They apply it to almost all directors with very arbitrary and totally incomprehensible rules to explain which directors are excluded.

  7. #27
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    So you think that all films by Fellini (and the others you mention) look the same? Isn't that a bit boring?
    It certainly can be, if they don't make a good job of it. John Carpenter is a case in point. "Assault on Precinct 13" is almost a perfect movie, within it's own conception and execution but Carpenter tried to revamp it as "Ghosts of Mars" and it was pretty appalling really. M.Night Shylaman has actually been trying the same *perfect trick* ever since his first movie, with varying levels of success. Some American directors make the same Mafia movie over and over and over......



    Auteur is just a posh French word implying authorship and there are many directors who demonstrate it in different ways. They don't always write the things initially but I daresay they are attracted to things that address some issues they are interested in, or perhaps forms that they like to work amongst. Even actors such as Schwarzenegger or Van damme could be seen as an *auteur* because they inevitably create a certain style and movie dialogue in many of their films. Any artist can be an auteur in this sense - by picking their projects.



    Another contemporary *auteur* must be David Croneberg; he has expanded his range from gory/scary films but I never imagined him making a RomCom.... until Madame Butterfly came along...



    I'm no film academic, but it is obvious that some directors head for similar material, even if they are not writer-directors. Of course some directors (and actors) make/create a very wide range of work but that doesn't make them less talented than an autuer - arguably it makes them more talented. The real problem with the term auteur is the hauteur with which the word can be used.




  8. #28
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moor Larkin

    Auteur is just a posh French word implying authorship and there are many directors who demonstrate it in different ways. They don't always write the things initially but I daresay they are attracted to things that address some issues they are interested in, or perhaps forms that they like to work amongst. Even actors such as Schwarzenegger or Van damme could be seen as an *auteur* because they inevitably create a certain style and movie dialogue in many of their films. Any artist can be an auteur in this sense - by picking their projects.



    Another contemporary *auteur* must be David Croneberg; he has expanded his range from gory/scary films but I never imagined him making a RomCom.... until Madame Butterfly came along...



    I'm no film academic, but it is obvious that some directors head for similar material, even if they are not writer-directors. Of course some directors (and actors) make/create a very wide range of work but that doesn't make them less talented than an autuer - arguably it makes them more talented. The real problem with the term auteur is the hauter with which the word can be used.




    The word "Auteur" just means "author" but "Auteur theory" takes it much further than that. It claims that the director is the only person responsible for the whole look and feel of the film, for the finest detail of every frame. It also claims that this authorship means that every film by an "Auteur" has a common look and feel which will let the critic identify the Auteur.



    If I were a film director, the last thing I would want would to be saddled with a description like that.



    As well as not allowing for the collaborative nature of film making and the style of each film varying as the director works with different people, it is also hugely restrictive on what the director is allowed or expected to do.



    The French critics who originated this theory (Truffaut and others) used it to raise the status of the director to that of the only important person in the making of the film. Whoever wrote the story, whoever wrote the screenplay, whoever filmed it, whoever designed the sets, whoever composed the soundtrack, whoever acted in the film, all of that is of no importance under Auteur Theory. The director is the only person who has any real artistic input to the film.



    I dismiss the theory with just one phrase - Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger and the other people working under the banner of The Archers



    Steve

  9. #29
    Senior Member Country: United States will.15's Avatar
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    Applying the auteur theory to just Joseph Losey, his best films all had screenplays by Harold Pinter. To downgrade Pinter's contribution to the final product as subordinate to Losey is just ridiculous.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    So you think that all films by Fellini (and the others you mention) look the same? Isn't that a bit boring?
    Obviously they don't look exactly the same, but it's crazy to deny the stylistic similarities between them. Many (in fact I would say most) novelists, artists and musicians have a distinctive style which they ring the changes on throughout part of their career. Are they all "boring"?



    Quote Originally Posted by Moor Larkin
    Auteur is just a posh French word implying authorship and there are many directors who demonstrate it in different ways. They don't always write the things initially but I daresay they are attracted to things that address some issues they are interested in, or perhaps forms that they like to work amongst.
    Good point. Though I must admit it's hard to think of auteurs who didn't write (or co-write or strongly influence) their own scripts in addition to directing.



    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    The word "Auteur" just means "author" but "Auteur theory" takes it much further than that. It claims that the director is the only person responsible for the whole look and feel of the film, for the finest detail of every frame. It also claims that this authorship means that every film by an "Auteur" has a common look and feel which will let the critic identify the Auteur.



    As well as not allowing for the collaborative nature of film making and the style of each film varying as the director works with different people, it is also hugely restrictive on what the director is allowed or expected to do.



    The French critics who originated this theory (Truffaut and others) used it to raise the status of the director to that of the only important person in the making of the film. Whoever wrote the story, whoever wrote the screenplay, whoever filmed it, whoever designed the sets, whoever composed the soundtrack, whoever acted in the film, all of that is of no importance under Auteur Theory. The director is the only person who has any real artistic input to the film.
    The dogmatism of that attitude does surprise me. Did they really put it that strongly? Can you cite any references (preferably English translations!)?

    I dismiss the theory with just one phrase - Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger and the other people working under the banner of The Archers
    If the theory is meant to apply to all film-makers then you're right. But the fact that not everybody was an auteur doesn't mean that auteurs didn't exist. When talking about the meticulous direction of Antonioni on Blow-Up, David Hemmings said that when people praised his performance it was the same as praising the colour yellow in a painting by Van Gogh.

  11. #31
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robin Davies

    Good point. Though I must admit it's hard to think of auteurs who didn't write (or co-write or strongly influence) their own scripts in addition to directing.
    Just to use Hitchcock as an example because he nearly always stayed in the same genre. He said that the process of actually making the film was almost boring for him because he had it all so carefully worked out beforehand and everyone just had to follow his instructions.



    But he didn't write many of his films. He had some input to the writing on a few of them but that was often uncredited implying that it was minimal.



    His films also vary in style quite a lot depending on who wrote them, who filmed them and who designed them. Yes, there are some similarities. But most of the points of similarity have been used by other people, both before and afterwards.





    The dogmatism of that attitude does surprise me. Did they really put it that strongly? Can you cite any references (preferably English translations!)?
    They did put it that strongly. But I only know the French versions. Truffaut's 1954 essay "Une certaine tendance du cinéma français" ("A certain tendency in French cinema") started it all off but that was then followed by lots of other examples from Truffaut and other critics in Cahiers du Cinéma. It was then picked up by critics in other countries and some lecturers on film studies courses.



    Auteur Theory was fairly much dismissed during the 1960s by Pauline Kael and others. Although it still lingers as a phrase - but people often use it without knowing what it really refers to.



    That's why my first question on this thread was:

    What do you mean by "Auteur"?



    Steve

  12. #32
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    Will has already pointed out the contradiction in saying "Joseph Losey made some 'Auteur' worthy films, especially in collaboration with Pinter,". To downgrade a future Nobel prize winner to someone just following Losey's orders is laughable especially if you've seen any of Pinter's non-Losey-related works.

  13. #33
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainWaggett
    Will has already pointed out the contradiction in saying "Joseph Losey made some 'Auteur' worthy films, especially in collaboration with Pinter,". To downgrade a future Nobel prize winner to someone just following Losey's orders is laughable especially if you've seen any of Pinter's non-Losey-related works.
    As people may have realised from my comments on this thread, I don't consider that calling someone an "Auteur" is a compliment. In fact I would say that it's quite an insult, implying that they can only do one thing (with a few minor variations)



    Steve

  14. #34
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook
    Auteur Theory was fairly much dismissed during the 1960s by Pauline Kael and others. Although it still lingers as a phrase - but people often use it without knowing what it really refers to.



    That's why my first question on this thread was:

    What do you mean by "Auteur"?
    I guess some examples of directors who take no interest in their subject matter might illustrate what an *auteur* certainly is not. I guess there is a purely technical side to the craft as well as creative. I've watched many films that seem to be *well made* but completely souless. Going back to Losey, one memoir I read about why he ended up disowning "The Gypsy & The Gentleman" was that he had spent some time liasing the score, only to be overruled by his producers, who imposed a completely different one that he found abhorrent. I think this suggests he was taking an all-encompassing interest in the structure of the film, not just in his *little bit*. With reference to Losey again - because he *auteured* some of his movies doesn't mean he therefore had to *auteur* all of his movies..... hence 'Modesty Blaise'.



    There is evidently some semanticism to be clarified about what *Auteur* is meant to mean. I know as much about architecture as making movies, but one simile might be that of the architect. S/He doesn't lay bricks, or cut stones but presumably s/he could be said to direct (at however sub-contracted a level) all the skilled technicians who do those jobs. I know that in theatre there was always said to be a tension between the director (often called a producer confusingly) and the writer. Perhaps this tension is why many (if not most) directors who desire to author a movie inevitably are credited as *writers* of that movie too, as mentioned earlier.



    However I still feel that some directors take far more interest in a movie's overall nature than just being the guy who shouts "Cut" and "Print".



    I have read that Terence Young largely sculpted the Bond that Connery became in Dr. No, but I don't suppose any of the writers would have agreed with that...




  15. #35
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    The word 'Auteur' is tricky, and usually gets people flustered, so this is probably not the best place to find an answer to your question. Joseph Losey was credited by Cahiers du Cinema, and has directed many films (usually getting others to write the screenplay - such as Harold Pinter). I believe that his films contain certain recurring themes, particularly dealing with human interaction and the complexity of interior thought and emotion. In a sense, he worked with authors, Accident was based on a book, the screenplay was written by the wonderful Harold Pinter. However, despite inconsistencies in his filmography, overall I would say he is an auteur. There are traces of his touch to many of the films that I have seen by him (even ones without Pinter), and I believe that Accident is his best. I believe there is an article or issue dedicated Losey in Cahiers if you want to research further.

    Being an auteur doesnt have to be as restricted as everyone makes out, there can be just sequences in a film in which the auteur comes through, just as there may be for example only 60% of his/her films that represent them as an auteur. Peter Wollen's Signs and meaning in the Cinema is a good read.

  16. #36
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    Here's the OED definition



    1. A film director whose personal influence and artistic control over his or her films are so great that he or she may be regarded as their author, and whose films may be regarded collectively as a body of work sharing common themes or techniques and expressing an individual style or vision.

    Recorded earliest in auteur theory n. at Compounds.



    [1959 Sight & Sound Summer-Autumn 28 115/2 Chabrol and Truffaut..began their careers as members of the rather exclusive group of young critics centred on Cahiers du Cinéma. There they defended almost as a sacred principle the ‘films d'auteurs’.] 1962 A. SARRIS in Film Culture Winter 2/2 Some critics have embraced the auteur theory as a short-cut to film scholarship. 1968 New Yorker 27 July 41 Familiar though we are with the axiom that European auteurs produce unmistakably personal visions, we have seen Hollywood movies..as committee efforts. 1974 A. TUDOR Image & Influence (1975) v. 111 Generally an auteur..develops the same ‘world-view’, the same pattern of interest, whatever the particular human content. 1989 Movie Winter 57/1 De Palma ranks more as metteur-en-scène than full-blooded auteur. 1999 8 Days 4 Dec. 47/1 Quintessentially Peter Greenaway. Newcomers to the British auteur will, in other words, be baffled and bored.

    2. A musician or other artist who retains a high degree of independent artistic control over his or her work, from conception to production or performance. Also: a creative artist whose work is perceived to reflect a highly individual vision or innovative approach, or is (self-consciously) presented as such.



    1969 N.Y. Times 29 June II. 17/1 The golden age of the composer-auteur precisely paralleled an outpouring of creativity in Western music. 1984 Dance Theatre Jrnl. Feb. 12/1 The creation of expressive gesture..based on the emotions of the dancer, involving her in the action..and giving her the role of auteur. 1989 C. S. MURRAY Crosstown Traffic vii. 159 Despite the presence of magnificent auteurs like Ray Charles and James Brown..soul is a team-player's music. 1992 Esquire July 75/1 Bad Boy Carl begins to entertain visions of himself as a great auteur, hanging around in New York with a fancy writing crowd. 1997 M. COLLIN & J. GODFREY Altered State vii. 269 Some of the music was thrilling and adventurous, and many of the premier electronic auteurs received just recognition and reward.

    B. adj. (attrib.). Of, relating to, or characteristic of an auteur; directed by an auteur; (also) adhering to auteur theory.



    1963 Film Q. Spring 17/2 The auteur critics seemed so deeply involved, even dedicated in becoming connoisseurs of trash. 1975 P. WEISS Cinematics vi. 87 Defenders of the auteur view holdcorrectly, I thinkthat without the director the film would be a mélange, a sheer aggregate of pieces, not a single film at all. 1989 Blitz Jan. 98/1 ‘How much are your films about you?’ ‘Obviously there is an idiosyncratic and perverse auteur level to everything I do.’ 2001 Toronto Star (Electronic ed.) 26 Jan., Two bold auteur movies that used the subconscious properties of the motion picture medium itself as an opportunity to ponder such conceptual heavies as time, life, consciousness and God itself.



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    COMPOUNDS



    auteur theory n. [after French la politique des auteurs (F. Truffaut Cahiers du Cinéma (1954) Jan. 26)] a critical theory or approach based on a belief that a film-maker may be considered as the creator of a body of art, with individual styles, themes, and techniques identifiable throughout their work.



    1962 [see sense A. 1]. 1976 J. D. ANDREW Major Film Theories Introd. 4 Auteur theory..relies on certain theoretical principles, but they are directed not so much at systematic understanding of a general phenomenon as at the evaluation of particular examples of that phenomenon. 1996 Independent 20 Dec. I. 16/7 For virtually four decades now, the principal methodology of film criticism has been the Auteur Theory, which postulates the director as the true and, indeed, sole author of a film.



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    DERIVATIVES



    auteurship n.



    1972 Amer. Scholar 41 630/1 For many film critics the thumbprint of style signifies *auteurship, whether left at the scene of a crime or upon a good achievement. 1997 Independent Film & Video Monthly (Electronic ed.) June, Rather than envisioning short film as a small feature, Haardt has defended it as a genre with a range of possibilities. Because it is generally noncommercial, filmmakers who employ it can be more radical in their auteurship.




    I doubt whether you many people would say Losey was the author of films which were written by Pinter though clearly there may well be recurring themes in his works.

  17. #37
    Senior Member Country: United States will.15's Avatar
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    But that isn't the way the French or the main American writer on the auteur theory, Andrew Sarris, apply it. They have all sorts of directors as auteurs who clearly weren't the sole author of their films on their lists. Raoul Walsh is on the list, a director who excelled in action films, but the sole author of his films when he only occasionally had a writing credit? It's hard to see anything uniquely individualistic in his films except Sarris and the French like him. King Vidor? He made a few innovative films early in his career, but otherwise a typical studio director, technically better than the average, but nothing uniquely distinctive. How is he the sole author of The Fountainhead, a faithful adaptation of Ayn Rand's claptrap novel, and totally contradictory to the themes of his best film, The Crowd?



    The auteur theory is rubbish the way the way the people who created it in the first place interpret it.



    And Sarris gets very silly by claiming sometimes non directors can be auteurs like writers like Paddy Chayfesky and producers like David Selznick. Isn't it just easier to say movies are mostly collaborative efforts? Certainly certain directors like Chaplin can be accurately described as close to fitting a literal definition of an auteur. But when a typical Hollywood product based on some comic book or TV show has the credits "a film by," the word auteur is pretty meaningless.

  18. #38
    Senior Member moonfleet's Avatar
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    No Auteurs Theory for me, but certainly the "good" directors are artists with their own style and mind universe, that they can "reverberate" in different genres successive films, drama, comedy, stylistic noir, .... that's for some old Hollywoodians even (or because of ??) with studios diktat



    Great comments everyone

  19. #39
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will.15
    The auteur theory is rubbish the way the way the people who created it in the first place interpret it.
    Could it not be said to certainly apply to those films made by Writer/Directors? Truffaut and his chums were presumably pretty much this in their day, in the re-fledging post-war French cinema. I think we peaux-peaux their wisdom too easily. The French Intellectual also gave us the Film Noir concept as well, which might be equally as nebulous as any Auteur debate.

    Quote Originally Posted by will.15
    And Sarris gets very silly by claiming sometimes non directors can be auteurs like writers like Paddy Chayfesky and producers like David Selznick. Isn't it just easier to say movies are mostly collaborative efforts?
    Well, this is where the term has developed a life of it's own... Surely people like Seagal and van Damme are *Auteurs* even though they do not direct. Some may claim they don't act either but in this sense they are perhaps *Auteurs* like John Wayne was an *Auteur*. Popular movies can be created just to showcase an individual actor's persona and surely in this sense they are designed to one single authored purpose.

    Quote Originally Posted by will.15
    Certainly certain directors like Chaplin can be accurately described as close to fitting a literal definition of an auteur.
    The old Woody Allen ?........


    Quote Originally Posted by will.15
    But when a typical Hollywood product based on some comic book or TV show has the credits "a film by," the word auteur is pretty meaningless.
    I don't think anyone in here has claimed that every single movie has to have an *Auteur*. On the other hand, Michael Boom Boom Bay has a certain cache and surely like Michael Mann, you can sometimes recognise his pictures simply by their style........



    There is a point where I suppose a director merely doing his job as a part of a team stamps his one little bit onto that film, but I'm not convinced by the glib collectivist notion that somehow any and every film is merely the sum of its collaborative parties.



    "The Archers" have been mentioned but these two (like Clough & Taylor or Morecambe & Wise) surely constitute an Auteur �* deux. Or does Steve Crook mean that their goal was never to make two films alike and so in this sense avoid the pigeon-holes dangerously inevitable to any aspiring *Auteur*, and for "The Archers" their very variety was their raison d'etre.



    Another Auteur �* deux presumably might be Dearden & Relph, with their sequence of "social-question" movies, which were punctuated by un-autered movies such as "The League of Gentlemen"




  20. #40
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    So nobody seems to be able to agree on what the term Auteur actually means. But people continue to use it



    I suggest that every time you hear it being used, you ask the person using it what they mean by it. How they define an Auteur. I suspect that most of them would have no idea



    Steve

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