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Film Auteurs

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Directoral Auteurism of

Frederico Fellini,

Satyajit Ray,

and Alfred Hitchcock

Auteurism is a term first coined by Francois Truffaut to describe the mark of a film director on his films. A director can be considered an auteur if about five of his film depict a certain style that is definitely his own. In other words, much like one can look at a painting and tell if it is a Monet, a Renoir, or a Degas, if a film director is an auteur, one can look at his film and tell by style and recurring themes that it was made by a certain director. In auteur films, the director is many times what brings an audience to the theater, instead of the actors or storyline. I am going to take a look at three of the most noted auteurs: Frederico Fellini, Satyajit Ray, and Alfred Hitchcock.

I watched five of Frederico Fellini's films: La Dolce Vita, 8-1/2, Juliet of the Spirits, La Strada, and City of Women. In all of these films, I noticed Fellini's enormous use of imagery, which of course he is most noted for. However, I also noticed a recurring set of character archetypes. These archetypes are the sex object, the wife, and the typical man.

First, we see the use of the sex object in 8-1/2. The young boy and his friends encounter the whore. With this encounter we see that a mixed batch of emotions, delight, cruelty, wonder, scaredness, and finally guilt. This scene is a perfect example of sexual awakening. The whore's sexuality and the boy's responses to it are shown with crosscuts between her suggestive motions and their shock and ultimate joy. When she invites the boy to come closer, he has mixed feelings, but is ultimately pressured by his friends. Fellini finishes this episode perfectly- the boys are caught red-handed by adults. In City of Women similar experience is portrayed. This time it is with a loving maternal figure. The young boy is confused when returning her affections- he has a mix of sexual excitement and shameless affection. The camera angle is that of a child's view, and he looks at her exposed cleavage and her open skirt crossed with cuts of her strong arms and her continuing maternal household duties and her embrace. In La Dolce Vita, the sexual object is in a more complex relationship with the man. She is not only an object of desire, and sexual partner, but she is also a friend and confidant of the main character.

The second character type that Fellini portrays in several of his films is the wife. In 8-1/2 and La Dolce Vita he characterizes the wife as a mother substitute. In 8-1/2 there is a harem fantasy sequence, and the wife plays the motherly role by cleaning house. In all of the films, the husband and wife have difficulty communicating with each other. One scene in City of Women visually shows this with multiple barriers: physical (a column and doorway), spatial (the characters are on opposite sides of the screen) and social (a crown with turned backs). In Juliet of the Spirits, Julieta is the "superwife." She plays all of the above stated roles, and also it is apparent that she has her own interior life. This is shown by the use of mirrors and reflections within reflections.

The final character archetype that I noticed in Fellini's films is the "macho man." This is probably best illustrated in the harem sequence in 8-1/2. In this the main character imagines himself as the master of all women he has ever desired, real or fantasized. In City of Women the doctor is the idealized male stereotype who now has to deal with women's increasing independence. I do not think that this character was as effective, however, in showing this archetype as much as the harem sequence did. In La Strada the male character is kept a prisoner by these male virtues- he cannot communicate his own feelings.

Fellini definitely has many trademarks, but I chose these to write about because they are the least remarked upon. But, surely when one watches any Fellini film, there is a definite look and feel to the movie, making Fellini a true auteur.

The next auteur that I studied was Satyajit Ray. I watched his popular Apu Trilogy, which consists of three films that follow the life of a boy named Apu. Most noteworthy of Ray's films is their universality. Even though they are filmed in India, anyone can relate to them. The scripts for these movies are very realistic; nothing seems forced or written. In fact, there is not much action in the plot of the first film of the trilogy, Pather Panchali. Also, the look of his films



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