Film studies: Auteur Theory Essay Example



Auteur theory

According to Caughie, (2013, pp. 127-193) the auteur theory was first introduced in France by film critics. They proposed that a director should possess the rights of production of a film not the writer. Auterism has been in existence since1950’s though it has undergone much of the revolution to date. However, other critics have argued that the rights of ownership should remain with the movie writer but not the directors as their contribution is minimal to this work. Nevertheless, it is true that the auteur is the one who is visionally in this work. The essay will examine the creative influence that auteurs have on Hollywood cinemas emphasizing on the most influential cinematic artist of the 20th century Hitchcock works in Vertigo, 1958 and Psycho, 1960 as case studies. The acceptability over violence, deviance in behavior and sexual life in most Hollywood films are all well illustrated in these films and they will be used to discuss the relevance of an auteur’s work.

Lippe, (2016, p.65-2) contends that auteurs have been described as being belief, that is a film or movie is supposed to reveal clearly the feelings that a director has or the beliefs that he or she holds as it is his own work. Alfred Hitchcock has been seen to place his characters in the center of his movies a clear depiction on their relevance on creativity of any film. For instance, when Hitchcock’s shots a movie which will give his film an artistic feeling possibly reveal the auteurs intensions and guiding the movie’s creativity. Auteur’s creativity is depicted by Hitchcock as he places characters in the middle of the frames in VERTIGO 1958. The movie is aimed at showing the evil of sexual politics that was there in 1950s which portrayed women as evil doers who used any means in order to get laid of a man. In this context Judy whose aim is to play this role was supposed to rule Scotty and she does it in a short while before Scotty is able to realize her intention, however, through the creativeness of the auteur the audience is able to note these intentions despite Scotty being unaware as depicted in the movie. Thus, it is against these reason that Hitchcock applies auteurs skills in order for the audience to see the vision he has in the movie. This is still a common trend currently and it remains unchanged in most recent Hollywood movies and films. Also, Madelaine another characters sits at the center and gazes at the painting found in the museum walls, this indicates some balance in the frame. In response, Hitchcock counters this act, by intentionally putting a chair and a similar painting on the other side, these painting are pleasing to the audience eyes (Michael 2005, p.295-297). This serves as a clue to the audience that the woman is alive, thus, in this scene Hitchcock is showing the audience what he intends them to see, as part of the creative aspects of an auteur in any movies and this happens in most Hollywood films a clear indication that auteurism concepts are central to the success of most movies. All these are intended for acting (Worland 2002, p.3-26)

Displaying suspense to the audience postulates another relevance of auteurs’ in Hollywood plays, and which is also one of the Autistic feature in Hitchcock work, normally applied while placing uncomfortable situations, which is mostly possible for the audience to be aware of, but the characters are unaware (Hitchcock, 2015, n.d). In VERTIGO, auteur’s creativity is illustrated by Hitchcock when he portrays suspense when Jeffries hears Thorwald walking towards his residence and the tension buildup due to the darkness in that place as well as the background music, in this cases he intensifies the suspense by centering it towards the audience since they cannot easily predict and the characters are unaware as depicted in the scene (Lippe, 2016).The viewers have been made to believe that Thorwald is a killer though they don’t know his capabilities of being a murderer so they he keeps them guessing and anticipating. Therefore, the creativity of Hitchcock concepts as an auteur places the audience in a very uncomfortable scenario in regards Jeffries and they therefore feels very frightened. In connection this play also, Scotty see’s Madeline as dead from the wall painting he suffers and this makes him to suffer from a paralyzing fear and he really want to rescue her, this leaves the audience in suspense as they wonder what will happen nest. Currently most Hollywood movies employee suspense to keep the audiences glued to the screens. This creative aspect has helped increase audiences more so for TV shows as viewers anticipate what is likely to happen next

The suspense nature is left in the thoughts of the audience or the viewers of what will happen and it helps to make people want to know what will happen thereafter after a given action. This is also revealed in the Psycho movie, where Marion is seen by her boss moving out of town and she had stolen money from the company with the intension of giving it to her boyfriend Sam in order to pay debts, this nervous situations displays suspense of what might happen to the character and makes the viewers want to see more (Williams and Hammond 2006, n.d). This creativity has been instrumental as production houses in Hollywood present their audiences with trailers that are meant to thrill them and leave them yearning and anticipating for more.

Evidently, suspense is key to Hollywood movies and has continued to be of significance since the inception of auteurs like Alfred who in his work in Pyscho 1960 clearly shows that most directors try to identify suspense in the scene as they unfold in the play. This is similar to imaging or imitation in order to conceal the truth (Worland 2002, p.3-26,). Norman kills, Marion in a hotel bathroom but tries to hide these facts by wiping the blood and taking or her belonging into the car so as to confuse the investigators the real culprit behind the murder act. The symbols or tools used in the movies by the actors and actresses at sometimes contains evidence of their users. Characters involved in the action are in the first place unaware that they can be discovered. For instance, once a person or a character is killed through snubbing, the killer might forget to take away the knife full of blood from his or her possession. Once the investigators begin and the knife gets discovered, things start to unfold. Auteurs true their creativity let the audience know who the killer is then throe a spin off by having an innocent person indicted for the same. For instance, in Hitchcock’s psycho 1960, evidence of who killed Marion in the room is revealed once Lila moves to her room and she finds her holding a Chef’s knife but after a lengthy confusion.

These movies are also important as they clearly shows illusions, where one tries to create an image of another person trying to behave or personate oneself, all these are done to illustrate how guilt can affect a person (Michael 2005, p.295-297). In the movies, Auteur Hitchcock tries to show how guilt kills oneself after committing an act that is against humanity. In the case of psycho 1960, jealous is seen to cause one character, Norman, to kill Mrs. Bates and her lover and after doing that he takes Mrs. Bates corpse and he treats it as it was alive, these are clear evidences that creatively illustrate illusion even after the death of an actor or actress in the Hollywood movies. Once Hitchcock acquired the film and he applied the personal expression via mise-en-scene, this made the book superior since he displays his own vision by applying personal styles (Lippe, p.65-2, 2016). The existence of visual life in most Hollywood cinemas is another creative art that makes it clearly to see a speechless face and the expected fate from the dumb objects that are in the same room as it is evident in the room where Madeline is acting inside a museum, this revelation of polyphonous of life helps to create superiority in the status of Hollywood movies, this is a skill borrowed directly from the original auteur, Alfred Hitchcock’s work in VERTIGO play and mostly applied in today’s plays. (Marshall, p.295-297.2009).

Most Hollywood cinemas use pure cinema to depict creativity of their auteurs by visually telling the story while using little dialogue (Kirkham 2009, p.218-222), These has been reflected in many scenes of Hitchcock’s vertigo work like when Scotty is tailing Madeline while in his car, inside there, there is no dialogue between them, Novak remains dumb for 46 minutes in the movie this leaves the viewers to interpret symbolic images in the cinema. The same happens to Marion and sam in Pyscho at the motel while sam is proposing a marriage to Marion they barely talks much but Marion tells sam she is ready for marriage but he is having a lot of debts. Under this case the director/auteur assumes the role of the film writer and represents the art of human manifestation. Marshall, (2009, p.295) states that once you see a man the image of God is seen therefore, in close-up while the audience are in a cinema hall the objects must be creative enough to reflect the work of man. The revelation of the real facial expression by the directors remains the most subjective tool even more better than the speech they makes in the play. It is therefore clear that the work of auteurs remains significance even in the recent Hollywood movies. Facial expression remains a key element in the plays. (Lev, 2007. p.175-86)

The reflection of guilt and confession is made evident and clearly shown as it was reflected in the previous plays by famous Auteurs. In the movie Pyscho after Norman shares a guilty embrace, it clearly shows that he is the one that killed Marion. Therefore, most directors in the Hollywood movies tries to clearly help the audience understand or read between the lines of what is in the writers mind as it has been presented by the Auteur (Hitchcock 2015, n.d). Thus, auteurs roles still remain relevant in the Hollywood movies or plays. In another example from the Hollywood actors, milk symbolizes element of poisoning, where the characters involved are Lina, Johnee and Johnee’s mother, in the scene Johnee brings milk to Lina but deep inside Lina is aware that this is poison, therefore she drafts a letter to Johnee’s mother telling her what Johnee gave her before she drinks the milk, the audience are aware its poison but Johnee is not aware that Lina knows her motives, if his motives are revealed that he is a murderer then guilt will start disturbing him (Michael, 2006. p.295-297). Cary Grant was supposed to play this role but it was not possible since the milk had poison but Hitchcock through this mission was able to clearly show the Murderous Johnee, it’s therefore true that the works of Alfred Hitchcock still remains in the Hollywood plays and movies.

Creativity of the scene in Hollywood movies is clearly seen where the auteurs even brings flies in order to reveal the truth of an action (Michael 2005, p.295-297). In a scene from Psycho flies are seen to surround a particular part in the scene, this might be indicating that someone has been killed and thrown there rotting, also after a character is held up in the cell for suspicion of killing a woman and her lover, he can use a recorded voice of a woman to say ‘he cannot even kill a fly, he isn’t the one who killed my husband’ this voice is just meant to conceal the truth and for the investigators to believe the man locked up as a suspect is clean and should be let free, all these shows creativity in setting of the movie and the characters can be clearly seen to be using the tactics applied by Alfred Hitchcock in the movie Pyscho in 1960, that is when Norman killed Mrs. Bate’s lover and he exhumed her body and locked it in her room, once he was locked in the cell due to suspicion of the murder he assumes the role of Mrs. Bate and claims that Norman cannot even kill or harm a fly. Also Norman changes his voice and whenever he remembers how he killed these people he starts to personate himself and even talking as her mother does.

In the reflection of bed scene most Hollywood movies clearly tries to use auteurs’ features of creativity to illustrates what was really intended to be meant in the movie, the auteur puts himself in the shoes of the film writer and really try to feel like he is doing the actual thing as it would be in reality, mostly these scene represents romantic moves by the real characters of the movie. The bed scene normally comes out clearly and the results are achieved. This is illustrated in Vertigo where both sexual-romantic and criminal threads have been utilised, vertigo shows that Scotty has romantic moves towards Judy after being seduced by Judy. However, we sees clearly that Scotty and Madeleine were love birds and he is willing to help her, the humour and his gentle moves towards her are lost due to the rush of creating the ultimate lover (Williams & Hammond, 2006). Hence, the works of auteur remains critical in the film world.

Auteur’s creativity helps in revealing the cameo appearance in the Hollywood movies. That is, a director appears just for few minutes then disappears in the whole movie. A good example is evident in Pyscho where Hitchcock just appeared while opening the movie in the introduction then his name disappeared in the whole movie. This helps the audience to identify things in the movie through his symbolic images, this cameo becomes a good ingenious trademarks in the auteur’s work. Moreover, it helps in transferring sympathy from one gender to the other that is male to female which is normally referred as the male Gaze by Hitchcock (Hitchcock 2015, n.d). This sympathy is also seen in the face of Marion towards her lover Sam who has a lot of debts and goes ahead to steal money to help him settle his debts as seen in Pyscho 1960.

In conclusion, the work of Hitchcock is very critical in explaining the continued presence of auteur’s work in the Hollywood movies. Auterism despite having many challenges remains to provide various significance in the creative art of films. By the creation of suspicion, imagery creation in objects, personifications and creating illusion in the mind of the people and also the belief natures of some characters appearance in the play brings about the continued application of these elements in the current Hollywood plays.


Caughie, J., 2013. Theories of authorship. Routledge. Pp.127-193

Hitchcock, S., 2015. TFM 571 Directors: Hitchcock Fall 2015 Instructor: Michael Slowik. Instructor.

Kirkham, P., 2009. Vertigo Alfred Hitchcock (1958). Design and culture, 1(2), pp.218-222.

Lev, P., 2007. Vertigo, Novel and Film. The Literature/Film Reader: Issues of Adaptation, pp.175-86.

Lippe, R., 2016. Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Cineaction, (98), pp.65-2.

Marshall, C., 2009. Film Theory and Criticism. NY Oxford. Oxiford.University Press. Seventh Edition. Pp.295-297

Michael, W., 2005. Film culture in transition ‘Hitchcock’s motifs. Amsterdam University press. Pp.295-297.

Williams, L.R. and Hammond, M., 2006. Contemporary American Cinema. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).

Worland, R., 2002. Before and after the fact: writing and reading Hitchcock’s Suspicion. Cinema journal, 41(4), pp.3-26.