Film Theory 341W Blog Journal (Week 5)

Sarris has three basic principles, or as he labels them, “premises,” regarding the Auteur theory. One premise is the technique of the director. Can a ‘bad’ director make a great film? Can a ‘good’ director make a bad film? Sarris’ second premise states, over a group of films, a director must exhibit certain recurrent characteristics of style, which serve as his signature. This second premise, to his understanding of the Auteur theory, was meant to discern the difference between a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ director. The noteworthy director, such as the likes of a Welles’ or a Ford caliber filmmaker, will leave his signature, or noticeable mark, into each and everyone one of his films.

Sarris’ third and final principle explores the need for his “Auteur” to implement something useful into their films, in order to validate their film as an art form. He believes that an Auteur should subliminally insert valuable information concerning life lessons into their films.

The two films I’ve chosen to compare with Sarris’ views on the Auteur theory are Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Psycho. As we all already know, Hitchcock was an artistic genius. Many of his films appeared similar. Why not? The films he made “worked”, so why fix what wasn’t broken. In both Rear Window and Psycho idea of voyeurism is explored. This notion satisfies all three of Sarris’ principles. Voyeurism is an idea that surfaces in many of Hitchcock’s films. Whether it’s Jimmy Stewart spying on his neighbors with his handy binoculars out his bedroom window, or Anthony Perkins looking through his peephole into the next room.

Both Rear Window and Psycho were critically acclaimed productions, warranting them worthy of Sarris’ first premise. The suspenseful nature of both films poses as Hitchcock’s noticeable mark that Sarris discusses. Hitchcock doesn’t use any ordinary method of presenting suspense; he always builds up suspense in a particular way, which is evident in both films.

Sarris would undoubtedly view Hitchcock as an Auteur. He shows all of the necessary signs that you’re typical “Sarris made” Auteur would show. He’s consistent with the quality of his films, his films are all similar in more ways than one, and he tells the viewer something about life (Feminism, voyeurism, Freudian theory, etc…). I don’t agree with Sarris’ views, nor do I agree with the notion of a singular ‘Auteur’ altogether. Hitchcock was a great director, calling him the supreme author of the film he made, dismissing all other contributing factors, just seems preposterous to me.

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