Notes on Auteurism

698 Words3 Pages
Notes on Auteurism The traditional model of an Auteur could be seen as a director that takes the script, and "transforms it into an original piece of work ". This may seem a rather ambiguous definition, but all that is needed to make clear what the practice of auteurism is, is one piece of work that fits the definition perfectly. Robert Altman’s Popeye is just that. Altman took an institution, that of Popeye, a classic American icon, and wrote it to fit it to his traditional thematic concerns. It has been Altman’s style to take a treasured and American figure whether it be "the Western" genre or Popeye, and turn the focus from the traditional action based narrative, to a more personal exploration. From the opening sequence it becomes obvious this is an Altman movie with the self-reflexive opening in which Popeye addresses the camera claiming "I’m in the wrong movie". Like in Brewster McCloud, where the MGM Lion asks for his line, it is Altman’s way of letting the viewer think about the film in a personal way making sure the audience realizes they are watching a movie. There is no third wall for Altman, as he constantly reminds the viewer of the fact that they are not viewing a reality, but a construct of media by placing various symbols throughout, such as a megaphone in the horse race scene and paintings of beautiful places everywhere (while the town, Sweet Haven itself is a complete dump). Popeye sets out to be a deconstructive musical, which stays in congruence with the rest of Altman’s anti-Hollywood films (Brewster McCloud, Buffalo Bill and the Indians, The Long Goodbye, and The Player). Altman deconstructs the musical through the songs themselves as they are sung by the two leads without any ability to sing (She... ... middle of paper ... ...are shot from doorways and seen through windows, a self-reflexive mode that causes the audience to see the characters within their own context and help to make create a distance between the audience and the characters. Even while Altman undertook the film adaptation of what could have been seen as an exhausted character with no creative possibilities left, he was able to transform Popeye from a cultural icon into a medium to express his views. It is only through the eyes of Altman that such opportunities could be seen and so capitalized on. And while it was not a huge box office success, it still is an example of quality work, in which Altman’s integrity was left intact. The final result is a text that has truly been re-written to fit Altman’s thematic concerns as Popeye learned societies’ expectations of masculinity and Olive Oil what a patriarchy means for women.

More about Notes on Auteurism

Open Document