Auteur Theory And Alfred Hitchcock Analysis

Table of Content

The central propositions of Auteur theory rest on the aspect of film criticism maintaining that a director’s personal vision of creativity is reflected in the films he or she creates. This can also be extended to all others in the production process who contribute to the creation of the film. In essence, the key to understanding the auteur theory is to consider the director as the primary Auteur, or author, of the film regardless of the external and internal elements that may also have a certain degree of influence on the outcome of the film.

Consequently, the concept of Auteurism refers to “the analysis of films based on the precepts of the Auteur theory or on the defining characteristics of the work of the director which basically makes him or her an auteur”(Ray, 38-39). As with the case of renowned director Alfred Hitchcock, a convergence of elements eventually prompted film theorists to brand him with auteur status in the strictest sense. Although the film production process is a collective effort, Hitchcock, by use of the unmistakable personal touches that make him an auteur, was able to equal and even surpass the efforts of all others involved in the production process.

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The Auteur theory has managed to gain a reputation in the field of film criticism and has held wide advocacy after film director and critic Francois Truffaut vocalized his support in 1954 (Buscombe, 30-31). The historical background of the theory can be drawn from the argument proposed by Andre Bazin.

One can observe that films, to a certain extent, relay the internal visions of the director. Part of the reason to this is that the director has a great role in guiding the overall feel of the movie. Thus, it can be seen that among all the movies there can be the slightest touch of the director’s inner thoughts and that these are manifested in several, if not all scenes in every movie.

While Truffaut and his colleagues accepted the fact that filmmaking was a part of the larger scheme of the industrial process, they nevertheless held an ideal they looked upon as a direction to strive for. It can be summarized in the sense that the instruments of commerce ought to be manipulated by the director at the least (Ray, 38-39). A unique pattern in style can be unveiled from among the good directors.

In general, the theory suggests that the best films will hold their creator’s signature which will eventually become his or her identifying stamp in terms of his or her individual personality that recurs throughout the themes in the bodies of the director’s work. The positive sides of the theory include the fact that it acknowledges the art of filmmaking and that it recognizes talents within the scopes of studio settings. It also draws attention to artists who were previously unheralded as well as that it identifies recurring and consistent themes and styles across a set of films which lead to their increasing appreciation (Narboni, 106).

However, the negative aspects of the theory are seen in the observation that it treats film as single-man’s creation. That is, it overlooks the fact that filmmaking is a collaborative venture where the relegation of teamwork is one of the main concerns in the entire duration of the filming of the movie. The theory also detaches the films away from their audiences and from their social contexts in connection to the theory’s treatment of the great artists as transcending time (Narboni, 110). Lastly, it also appears to “overrate the poor works created by major artists”(Stam, 2).

Overall, the theory nevertheless puts strong emphasis on the personal touch of the director in giving life to the many different aspects of the film itself. By constantly wielding and utilizing the director’s personal touch on the film, a “recurring theme can be observed and that this consistent style creates the impression that the reputation of the director as a crucial part in the creation of the films goes beyond his or her role in the single movie itself”, that it actually relegates the role of the director in installing his worldview and thus making the film as if it was truly his or her own (Sarris, 27-28)
Alfred Hitchcock as an auteur
Hitchcock generally worked and directed movies that fall under the thriller genre by imprinting upon formulaic movies his famed idiosyncratic touches. The manner in which Hitchcock worked as a crucial part of the filmmaking process largely contributed in “propelling him to the status of an auteur”. Hitchcock even “ordered and manipulated the shade of blonde he was looking for in Grace Kelly’s hair” in one of the films (Martin & Wikstrom, 20)

What enabled Hitchcock to “cut in the camera” is his attitude of working out the details of the film in advance, which eventually corresponds to the unswervingly stumpy ratio of film really utilized in the finishing cut to the film shot during the entire shoot. Having worked out everything in advance, he worked quickly and economically. A minimal set of editing was the result of his working attitude, hence the term “cutting in the camera.” The fact that Hitchcock planned every detail in advance oftentimes led to bore him during the actual shooting of the film. To fend off languor in the course of the actual filming progression, he would customarily commence labor on the storyboards for his coming film project (Martin & Wikstrom, 21).

“When all the interesting film-makers-those who were referred to as “auteurs” by the Cahiers du Cinema in 1955, before the term was distorted- concealed themselves behind various characters in their movies. Alfred Hitchcock achieved a real tour de force” that established his status further as an auteur (Ray, 38).

Hitchcock’s most popular films include Vertigo, Psycho, Rear Window, and The Birds which reflected his story telling methods and skills which were renowned for their witty plots, intelligent dialogues and the fusion of mystery and murder. With this respect, Hitchcock’s name became commonly attributed to the thriller genre as he created revolutions in that aspect of filmmaking. Part of the reason to this, apart from the fact that it was the genre he centrally focused on, is his skill which he exhibits during the course of the film which can be observed in his treatment of the subject in line with the shots he utilizes and on how he is able to fuse them altogether (Truffaut & Scott, 346).

One illustration to this is shown in one of his famed screen moments. The terrifying shower scene in the film Psycho featured 70 unique shots in just a matter of 1 minute. The number of shots were combined altogether in such a manner that one will find a difficult time seeking the distinction between the montage and the mise-en-scene (Nickens, 110).
Further analysis
A considerable number of movies made by Hitchcock contained fleeting cameo appearances by the director himself such as a Hitchcock being seen for a brief period boarding a bus, standing in an apartment across the length of a courtyard, appearing in photographs in the scenes, or by simply crossing in front of an edifice. This seemingly playful act eventually became labeled as one of the Hitchcock signatures in films. Further, Hitchcock himself would carry a musical instrument in one of the scenes in the film as a recurring theme, especially in the onset of Strangers on a Train (Martin & Wikstrom, 23).

The fact that these varied elements are included in the movies of Hitchcock signifies the fact that Hitchcock had a very huge role in the filmmaking process and that this monumental role extends his personality right into the theme of the movie. Since film producers have a significant trust on Hitchcock, he was able to freely include these elements either in a subtle or in an obvious manner. The constant inclusion of these personal elements in the many movies of Hitchcock eventually molded an image uniquely his own. Hence, it became inevitable that the movies highlighting these elements were immediately attributed to Hitchcock thereby creating the director-image of Hitchcock as an auteur (Sarris, 29).
Considering all of the characteristics of Hitchcock, his crucial role in the movies he created, the inclusion of the elements in the movies which reflect his personality and lifestyle as well as the role of the scholars in carefully assessing his impact of his personal touches in the movies, it can be said that Hitchcock indeed is an auteur in the strictest sense of the word.

Although arguments can be raised against the role of the director as an auteur in the filming of the movies, it remains a fact that Hitchcock had an immense weight of participation prior to, during , and even after the filmmaking process. Part of the arguments against it is the claim that several other factors must also be considered and the merit should not solely belong to the director. As with the case of the seemingly lesser roles in the movies, the collective efforts of all the participants excluding the participation of the director when combined altogether essentially posits a substantial bearing in the creation of the film.

Nevertheless, it is the given fact that Hitchcock himself was able to equal or to the extent of even surpassing the combined efforts of the other roles in film production. This fact further reinforces the personal touches Hitchcock juxtaposed in the scenes of the movies.

In conclusion, the factors which are attributed to the delegation of the status of an auteur to Hitchcock should not be looked upon as a means to ignore the relative importance of the role of the rest of the crew involved in film production. Rather, the role of Hitchcock as an auteur should be noted as a form of a proper authority in guiding the direction of the film. On the other hand, the distinction between an auteur and the other roles in the film production should be taken as an informal relationship which defines the structure of the outcome of the movie. This is the point where Hitchcock himself leads the way not only as a director but also as the auteur.

Annotated Bibliography Buscombe, Edward. “Ideas of Authorship.” Theories of Authorship. Ed. John
Caughie. 1 ed. New York: Taylor and Francis, 2005. 30-31.

The book uses various approaches in analyzing the aspects of film in terms of the authorities and theories that revolve around it, including Auteur Theory. Buscombe gives due recognition to these approaches as he attempts to collect and present writings on the cinema in the form that is deliberately and freely accessible to the reader and public in general. Each of the volumes takes as its focal point a central issue in the studies of films and weaves together the most crucial texts, with highlights on what is not readily available anywhere else.

Martin, Jr. Grams, and Patrik Wikstrom. “Alfred Hitchcock and the Golden
Days of Radio.” The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. 1st ed: O T R Pub, 2001. 20-23.

Both “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” are treated by far as the most successful mystery anthologies to grace the television. “The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion” is the premiere and “official” book documenting the complete history of the television program supplemented by an episode-by-episode broadcast manual. By far, the book gives us an account on the life of Alfred Hitchcock in shedding light into the placement of his lifestyle and personal thoughts on his films.

Narboni, Jean. “Francois Truffaut: ‘Evolution of the New Wave’.” Begin Match to source 2 in source list:
Du Cinema: 1960-1968: New Wave, New Cinema, Reevaluating Hollywood. Ed. Jim Hillier.End Match Reprint ed: Begin Match to source 2 in source list: University Press,End Match 1992. 106-110.

This book reiterates the perceptions of Francois Truffaut in the advent of the cinema and the considerations on the Auteur theory. Truffaut gives his insights on the contributions as well of Alfred Hitchcock in the development of the theory inasmuch as the latter’s works are concerned.

Nickens, Christopher, and Janet Leigh. Psycho: Behind the Scenes of the
Classic Thriller. 1st ed: Harmony, 1995.

This book examines one of Hitchcock’s classic films and brings into light why the esteemed director is an Auteur. As the elements of the movie are revealed in this book, one gets the primary idea that the touch of Hitchcock on his movies are as real as they are, and that one will eventually realize that daubed allover the movie is the very unique manifestation of Hitchcock’s prowess as a film director.

Begin Match to source 1 in source list: Mauer, Barry J.. Ray, RobertEnd Match B. Begin Match to source 1 in source list: Mauer, Barry J.. “The Bordwell Regime and the Stakes of Knowledge.” How a
Film Theory Got Lost and Other Mysteries in Cultural Studies. Indiana:End Match Indiana University Press, Begin Match to source 1 in source list: Mauer, Barry J.. 2001.End Match 38-39.

This book gives a crucial insight into the filmmaking process and its relevant theories, providing an extra arm in looking deep into Alfred Hitchcock’s authority as an auteur as evidenced in the movies he has created. By tracing the development of films through history, one is able to observe and organize the set of patterns evident in films. The evidence of these patterns suggests the role of the director on a certain level, bringing into context the director’s pivotal role. This can be utilized in grasping the essential link between Hitchcock and his films.

Sarris, Andrew. “The Auteur Theory Revisited.” Film and Authorship. Ed.
Virginia Wright Wexman. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2002. 27- 29.

Virginia Wright Wexman has assembled some of the freshest writings accessible on the subject of movie authorship. The book seeks to incorporate the idea of an auteur into the aspect of movie authorship not only during filming but also during post-production. It highlights the connection between the movies and those who created them, exposing not only a superficial link between the two but one that centers on the establishment of an auteur throughout a series of movies.

Stam, Robert. “The Author.” Film and Theory: An Anthology. Eds. Toby
Miller and Robert Stam. Malden: Blackwell Publishing Incorporated, 2000. 2.

While this literary compilation of collected works provides a collection of some of the most confrontational and prominent writings of film theory from the 1960s and 1970s, it also provides the essential background for rediscovering the role of the “author” in the creation of works of art. Juxtaposed with film and film theory, the central premises in the book sheds light on some of the most taken for granted facts that revolve around the director.

Truffaut, Francois, and Helen Scott. “Hitchcock’s Final Years.” The
Definitive Study of Alfred Hitchcock. Revised ed. New York: Gallimard, 2003. 346.

This book provides an essential backgrounder on the life of Alfred Hitchcock within the movie industry as well as beyond the silver screen as related by his close friends and comrades in the film industry. It brings to light the auteur status of Hitchcock as he further went on to the closing days of his life, apart from the significant changes and impacts he has given unto the industry at large.

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