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Auteur Theory- Stanley Kubrick
Transcript of Auteur Theory- Stanley Kubrick
What is an Auteur?
The term auteur was first coined by several journalists of the Cahiers du cinéma. An auteur is a director whose creative control over a project is absolute and as such are recognized as the creator of the piece. They also have a recognizable, unique style, work with several recurring themes and also tend to use the same cast and crew (as they trust them) to bring their visions to life.
Why is Kubrick an Auteur?
Kubrick is definitely an auteur. He had a lot of creative vision, he often took inspiration from books, but changed the material to suit his vision (Which usually angered the writers), thus making them his own. He also kept a close group of people which he used on many projects. James Liggat was casting director in Lolita, 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon and The Shinning, He used his daughter in bit parts in 2001, Barry Lyndon, The Shinning and Full metal Jacket and Margaret Adams went from production assistant on A Clockwork Orange to Production manager in Eyes wide shut. He had a very distinct and recognizable style, using cold colors to create a bleak atmosphere (they give a sense of isolation as cold can be associated with locations like the arctic). Another stylistic element present in most Kubrick films is that of the long shots, shots that go on longer than any other movie would, which helps make a scene feel uncomfortable, these elements also feed into a major theme of Kubrick's work, Fear. The fear of mankind, where it is going, where it is currently or how it got to this point. And along with that comes the theme of dehumanization.
Following the rules
Even though Kubrick is an auteur some of his films did fit into certain genres (A Genre is a method used to group films of a similar nature).
One film genre that Kubrick dabbled in frequently was the war genre with films like Paths of Glory, Dr Strangelove and Full metal Jacket. War films obviously deal with people fighting wars, usually in a historical context though sometimes different.
For the purpose of this presentation I will be looking at Full Metal Jacket. This movie when compared to something like Saving Private Ryan follows many of the same codes and conventions. There is a lot of use of wide angles to show destruction, there's a scene where the hero becomes very focused and thus shuts out all other sounds, while things around him slow down, there is a man who specializes in a certain weapon, pvt Jackson and his sniper; Mother and his machine gun, their is the token character that can be identified by race or ethnicity, Mellish is Jewish and Eightball is black. And of course there is the scene where the cavalry comes in to save our hero. In this sense this film can be seen as a typical war film.
Being Unique within the System
Finally I will be looking at how Kubrick, like a true auteur, managed to work within the confines of a genre and yet also clearly make it his own.
A Clockwork Orange was made in 1971 and is a film about a dystopian future in which main character Alex is arrested for despicable crimes and then undergoes a procedure where he is unable to do wrong. Many of the typical traits of a dystopian future movie is here. The government is omnipotent and controls everything. Free thought and freedom is discouraged (even though what Alex does is wrong, his freedom along with everyone else is suppressed). The film makes a statement about current trends (the thought that criminal behavior could be suppressed by taking away their free will), the theme of overpopulation is constant and our main character is the one who helps us realize the flaws with the world. But it also has elements of a Kubrick film in it.
There are the cold colors that give a feeling of isolation, the long shots, the overpowering nature of the soundtrack, use of narration to get inside the characters head, the juxtaposition of violent/scary images with funny and whimsical moments with the singing in the rain rape scene, the theme of fear is also there, fear of what Alex is going to do and the theme of dehumanization comes into play when Alex gets his free will taken away.
All of this adds up to make a film considered by many to be a dystopian film,
But by all to be a Kubrick film.
In this presentation I will be talking about Auteur Stanley Kubrick, why I think he is an auteur and how his movies both conform and deviate from conventions of the genres they work within.
I will be looking at three films that will help me analyze Kubrick's nature.
But first we must ask: What is an auteur?