What is Vulgar Auteurism?

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Originally advocated by French cinema reviewers in the 1950s, the auteur theory states that a film’s meaning and aesthetic are mostly the filmmaker’s work. However, a new movement known as Vulgar Auteurism has evolved in recent years as a critique of the auteur theory. It has gained much traction in cinema criticism and study despite its rejection of the auteur theory.

The auteur theory is criticised by the school of thought known as vulgar auteurism for its “problematic and narrow” concept of cinema authorship, namely its “overemphasis” on the director’s role while downplaying those of other significant characters. This article will use the auteur theory as a lens to examine the criticisms against Vulgar Auteurism.

The History of Auteurism

It was in the 1950s when French cinema reviewers André Bazin, François Truffaut, and others first put out the auteur idea. They contended that a film’s director is the true creative force behind the film’s message and tone and that the filmmaker’s unique vision and approach to filmmaking shine through in every one of their films. American reviewers like Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris helped spread the idea across the country.

A large part of the auteur theory’s acclaim stems from the fact that it treats the filmmaker as an artist and places a premium on the director’s unique point of view. The work of auteur directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino has been examined and praised by critics using this idea. Some films and filmmakers have been given credence by the auteur theory, which mainstream reviewers had mostly ignored.

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