Auteur Theory: Alfred Hitchcock
Objectives: The chapter focuses on introducing Hitchcock as a major filmmaker and understanding his legacy. Key words: auteur, French New Wave, suspense, motif, color, voyeurism
“I am a typed director. If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach.” - Alfred Hitchcock
In one of the earlier chapters, you have already become familiar with the term auteurism. Let us expand our familiarity with term here.
In 1910, the British magazine Bioscope identified some directors as special. As early as in 1913, in Germany the term autoren film was used based on the idea that a film should be judged based on the works of the writer. Filmmaker and novelist, Alexandre Astruc, coined the term camera pen as he wanted to raise the status of cinema from a working class form of entertainment to high art form. Astruc’s article La Camera –Stylo (1948), called for a new language in filmmaking. For Astruc and the proponents of auteurism, camera should be used the way writers use their pens. Astruc’s contention was that filmmakers should make more personal kinds of film. We already know that in his ‘Une Certaine Tendance du Cinema Francais’ (1954),Francois Truffaut lay down the overarching principles of the auteur theory. Andrew Sarris (1928-2012), a leading American proponent who wrote for the Village Voice, further added to the understanding of an auteur. According to Sarris, it is the director who is the sole author of his work. This is regardless of the contribution of the writers, producers, or actors. Sarris ranked directors: for instance, for Sarris, John Ford is better than William Wyler.
Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) Son of a greengrocer from London, Hitchcock started his career in Britain in the age of silent cinema. Hitchcock’s status as an auteur came into prominence in the late 1950s. French New Wave critics, especially Eric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol and Francois...