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The Auteur Theory

The Auteur Theory

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Published by Medway08
Author theory says that even someone like Hitchcock is an artist.
Author theory says that even someone like Hitchcock is an artist.

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Published by: Medway08 on Jan 22, 2008
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12/03/2012

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Film theories in Hitchcock Studies
adapted fromJane Sloan,
 Alfred Hitchcock: A Filmography and Bibliography
andRobert Kapsis,
 Hitchcock: The Making of a Reputation
 
Hitchcock and film history
 
The auteur theory:
 Developed by French film theorists as "politique des auteurs."Among these theorists, several were particularly interested inHitchcock: Francois Truffaut, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer.1. Despite the collaborative nature of movies, a film has an"author," who is the director.2. As an artist, a director can work within conventional forms andgenres and still impose a distinctive "vision" on the films."Auteur" critics downplay historical or infrastructural elements toemphasize the "vision" or unified sensibility that structured thefilm. These critics prefer to examine a director's full body of work,looking for recurring themes, symbols, and motifs that define theauteur's vision. Auteur criticism also tends to prefer directors whoworked in conventional genres (suspense, westerns, etc.), becausethey provide the best opportunities to see how a distinctivesensibility can manifest itself even with cliched material.
Structural criticism:
 Structuralism looks at a film or any other "text" as a
signifyingsystem
, a set of patterns or relationships. The meaning of a work (or a body of work) comes not so much from inherent meanings of itsindividual elements, as from how they interrelate within a "
formalsystem
."In Hitchcock studies, structural analysis has emphasized
thematicoppositions
and other 
recurring pattern
s. Various critics havesuggested various key patterns: doubling, pursuit and flight, activityand passivity, voyeurism and 'the gaze,' and so on.
Genre
, considered as a set of conventional patterns within a basicformula, is one interest in structural criticism.
Plot patterns
(such asthe falsely-accused man) are recurring structural elements related togenre. Film techniques such as subjective (point-of-view) shootingcan also be analyzed as structural elements.
Semiotics
, a form of structuralism, uses the concept of 
codes
todiscuss conventional ways that things are done in texts. Codes arecultural phenomena because they are learned. Nevertheless, throughfamiliarity codes come to seem natural rather than cultural: this process is called "
naturalization
."There are various categories of codes, including
cultural codes
(for 
 
Production of culture approach (industrial model):
 The production of culture approach to film emphasizes the makingof movies as an industrial process. (It is also known as the
infrastructural approach
because it emphasizes the internalworkings of the film business.) The most fully developedindustrial model was the
Hollywood studio system
, whichHitchcock worked in for over 25 years. (His work in the Europeanand British film industries of the 1920s and 1930s provides asomewhat different model.) The production of culture approach iscontrary to the auteur theory, in that it emphasizes filmmaking as acollaborative process as well as a business.Criticism following the industrial model emphasizes the three-stage process of 
pre-production
,
production
, and
post-production
--in Hitchcock's case, his collaboration with writers, producers, editors, publicists, and others in creating films. A veryimportant part of the studio era was the
star system
, whichaffected Hitchcock's selection and use of actors.
Reception theory:
Reception theory, also known as the
reader-response
approach
,gives an essential role to the viewer (or 'reader'), rather than treatingthe "text" as a unique entity separate from readings of it. Thisapproach considers meaning as something produced, "negotiated,"or "fabricated" by an interaction of the film with its viewer. In other words, reception theory analyzes the reading of a text as acommunicative process.Reception theorists emphasize the "
horizon of expectations
" that aviewer brings to a film or any other text. These expectations aredetermined both by the human perceptual apparatus and by the"
interpretive community
" that any individual viewer is a part of.Members of an interpretive community share previous textualexperiences as well as cultural assumptions; this shared backgroundleads individuals within the community to approach and interpret particular texts in similar, predictable ways. Among the sharedartistic factors are genre (considered as a set of expectations for afamiliar film type), the artist's reputation (Hitchcock as "the Master of Suspense"), and infrastructural factors such as marketing and publicity.
 Ideology
comprises shared cultural and social assumptionswithin the community.Although reception theory deemphasizes the idea that a text has onecorrect interpretation, it also rejects the notion that all

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