Jean Luc-Godard And The Auteur Theory

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In the world of cinema, a director can either be a tool to create a film without ever being seen or heard by the audience or they can put their “stamp” on the movie so that the audience immediately knows who directed the film. The latter of these types of directors is called an auteur. The director whose style and creativity is evident and repetitive in their films is what Francois Truffaut, the film critic who established the theory, would call an auteur (Boda &Pendleton-Thompson). Two such auteurs whose films were shown in class this semester include the legendary French director Jean-Luc Godard who directed Vivre Sa Vie (1962) and the American director of Upstream Color (2013), Shane Carruth. Though these directors are acclaimed as auteurs…show more content…
As Andrew Sarris points out in “Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962”, there are roughly three premises of the auteur theory on which to judge a director. These include the technical expertise of the director, the distinguishable style of the film that reflects the director, and lastly the relationship between the director and his art and the glory that that relationship produces (Mast & Sarris). Jean Luc-Godard is regarded as a director who consistently made films that are visual and intellectual landmarks in the world of cinema. Rob Nixon, a contributor of the Turner Classic Movies channel, explains the greatness of Luc-Godard, “Jean-Luc Godard was the most talked about and exciting filmmaker on the scene, reinventing cinema and inspiring passionate dialogue about his work and about the art of motion pictures “(Nixon). Furthermore, Nixon extrapolates from Vivre Sa Vie Luc-Godard’s personal style, which made him so well known. He says the director consistently uses cultural references in the film (i.e. the showing of clips of The Passion of Joan of Arc), Brechtian distancing devices that distances the audience from the emotional capacity of the film in order to make them think, and signature camera takes and angles. All of these stylistic elements help Luc-Godard to be considered the great auteur he…show more content…
In Vivre Sa Vie, Jean Luc-Godard employs the talents of the great musical scorer, Michel Legrand, who creates the melancholic theme music played at the beginning of each “chapter”. This music, both sad and somewhat lighthearted at the same time does well to instill in the viewers the raw emotion felt by Nana as she slides down in the desolate life of prostitution. There is also a lot of diegetic sound in this film, which draws further comparison between it and the Italian Neorealist movement, while also giving it that real-life documentary feel. Furthermore, the music follows the emotion in a way, telling the audience how to feel. Following a particularly sad moment, the music cuts in. This type of sound design differs with Carruth’s use of sounds design. His score is much more whimsical, dreamlike, and nature-driven – giving it a feeling of a drug induced haze in a way that describes the feeling Kris has for much of the film when everything is slipping away. There are also quite a few scenes and stretches of the film where there is no sound at all, which forces the viewers to focus on the visuals and on what can be deduced from the silence and isolation Kris is feeling. Upstream Color is very unique and interesting in the sequences when it blends the recording of diegetic sound within the film and actually creates a non-diegetic

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