Term of Art: Auteur Theory

auteur theory: A theory of film criticism and analysis that derived from the writings of Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer, and others, which appeared in the influential magazine Cahiers du cinema in the early 1950s. In an article printed in Cahiers in 1954, Truffaut proposed “la politique des auteurs” in an effort to free directors from traditional script-dominated films. Truffaut and his colleagues, who were to become the vanguard of the New Wave, held that, although films are collaborative efforts, they should ultimately bear the artistic stamp of the director, whose personal vision creates the film as an author (auteur) would create a book. The theory was first championed in the U.S, by the critic Andrew Sarris.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

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