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Video Essay: What Does It Mean to Be an Auteur?

Video Essay: What Does It Mean to Be an Auteur?

There will come a time when being an auteur filmmaker will be the norm, rather than the exception. But let’s pause for a second on that word “auteur.” Have you ever heard that word used and wondered what it meant? Or, more likely, have you ever thought about a director who had carved out his or her own particular style, which you noticed from film to film, and thought there must be a term for directors like that? This roughly-fifteen-minute video essay from Filmmaker IQ gives a resoundingly clear answer to the question “what is an auteur,” which should clear up any confusion on the matter. It also offers up a concise history of the term, which is rooted in French film history. The piece looks at the more conservative films being made in France before World War II, the transformations effected by Francois Truffaut and such critic-director colleagues as Jean-Luc Godard, who embraced and examined director Jean Renoir’s term auteur to support an elevation of the filmmaker-as-artist, and the fierce debate between American critics Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael over the significance and relevance of the term itself. This piece is a great watch for anyone hoping to bolster their knowledge of film history or, as the case may be, resolve once and for all what the heck an “auteur” is.

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