The And Narrative With Reference Essay Example
The And Narrative With Reference Essay Example

The And Narrative With Reference Essay Example

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  • Pages: 7 (1733 words)
  • Published: December 17, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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Auteurism, or 'authorship' is an important concept in film studies. It involves rating directors based on their skills, considering them to be the ultimate creators of a film. The purpose of an author, or auteur, is to attribute a specific person to the creation of art. According to Roland Barthes in his text "The Death of the Author," the author is a construct of modernity. The label attached to a work of art gives it meaning, rather than the work itself. Barthes notes how Van Gogh's genius in painting is often attributed to his madness. Barthes primarily focuses on the author in literature, but his theory is also applicable to film.

In his text "What is an Author," Michel Foucault discusses the traditional role of the author and how their name functions as a descriptor rather than a personal identifier. According to Fouc


ault, this transforms the author's name into an improper rather than proper noun. He emphasizes that the author's personal identity is unimportant by using the example of Shakespeare. If it were discovered that Shakespeare did not live in his renowned house, it would be seen as a trivial detail. However, if it was revealed that Shakespeare did not actually write his literature, it would cause outrage. This illustrates that the work itself carries more significance than the individual behind it.

All Shakespeare represents is a name behind the work. According to Foucault, an author's name serves as a means of classification and distinguishes texts from each other. Therefore, texts created by the same author can be linked together by certain characteristics or traits. While a normal name associates the person behind it and moves out

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of the discourse, the name of an auteur remains firmly entrenched and circulates from one text to another. Foucault believed that having an author in this way serves four important elements.

There are several ways in which we understand and value artwork. One way is through appropriation, which involves using the name to accurately attribute ownership. Another way is through science, which has changed the old system of folklore where the age of a story determined its importance. Now, validity is determined by having a notable name associated with the work, serving as authentication. Additionally, we view artwork as an expression of the author's unique perspective and creativity, as demonstrated by the example of Van Gogh. Lastly, we construct the identity of the author based on their artistic creations.

When examining directors and their work, certain characteristics are attributed to them based on recognizable patterns, while disregarding other characteristics if they cannot be identified. This approach is solely centered on the work itself and not the individual responsible for it. Applying this concept to the title of this essay, studying a director's body of work can unveil recurring themes that can be credited to the director - also known as the auteur. In this essay, I will concentrate on Alfred Hitchcock's films, specifically his American films from the 1950s - 1960s. Hitchcock is widely regarded as an exemplar of auteurism due to the dynamic nature of his films, which we will thoroughly explore. There exists a wealth of literature dedicated to Hitchcock and his films, highlighting his profound impact on the film industry. Nevertheless, it is crucial to acknowledge that while Hitchcock remains an important figure, his

films are also influenced by commercial cinema along with its conventions and limitations, in addition to cultural elements such as institutions, values, ideology, conflicts, and struggles (Wood: 1989: 5). Consequently, extensive analysis has been conducted on Hitchcock's body of work resulting in significant success in identifying recurring themes.

These themes were incorporated into the film's production by their creator, known as the auteur. In his book, Hitchcock's Films Revisited, Robin Wood attempts to identify several underlying themes in Hitchcock's work. One theme of particular interest to Wood is the role of mothers, who often pose as hindrances. In the movie North by Northwest (1959), the protagonist Thornhill (played by Cary Grant) is doubted and treated suspiciously by his mother, who refuses to believe his claims of being pursued by spies. As Wood points out, this reaches its climax when Thornhill's mother unknowingly questions the two killers hiding behind her: "You're not really trying to kill my son, are you?" This results in Thornhill being ridiculed and humiliated. The portrayal of Mrs. Thornhill stands in stark contrast to that of Mrs. Bates, the mother of the infamous Norman Bates in Psycho (1960). Mrs. Bates is only revealed to us as one of Norman's multiple personalities and has a dominant and murderous role, particularly in the infamous shower scene involving Marion Crane (played by Janet Leigh).

Wood argues that the portrayal of mothers as a boy's best friend in Hitchcock's American films is not representative of the director's own upbringing or any Freudian/Lacanian theories. He points out that these mother figures only appear in Hitchcock's American films, which coincides with a time when mothers were solely responsible for raising

children. It is this suffocating relationship that ultimately becomes strained. The absence of fathers in these films further supports Wood's belief that societal and cultural influences have shaped Hitchcock's work and our interpretation of it.

Hitchcock, the auteur, embodies the notion that all directors, regardless of their location, are confined by the limitations imposed by their craft and culture (Sarris, A. in, Lapsley and Westlake: 113). An in-depth analysis of Rear Window by Robin Wood reveals a new interpretation of the film's underlying message - the fear of castration. This fear stems from the Freudian Oedipus complex, in which a young boy realizes that girls lack a penis and believes it has been castrated. Consequently, he becomes afraid of losing his own. Translating this theory into daily life, the phallus signifies whatever a man perceives as granting him power.

Castration is the removal of power. According to Wood, in Rear Window, both James Stewart's broken camera and leg have a phallic value because they provided him with power. As a reckless photo-journalist, Stewart's potency as a male is expressed through his role, not just through anything sexual. His recklessness and initiative are seen as signs of "masculinity," which helps him avoid castration and maintain his "potency." However, when Stewart witnesses the attack on his girlfriend, Lisa, from his apartment, he is rendered impotent and can only watch. This impotence is further reinforced when the villain, Thorwald, enters his own apartment intent on murder. This theme of impotence and the desire to 'look' is a recurring theme in Hitchcock's work - scopophilia.

The act of looking in the movie Rear Window can be seen as a display of power.

Jefferies spies on his neighbors through his window, which is comparable to the role of a spectator in a cinema, according to Wood. This aligns with Laura Mulvey's theory in Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, where she states that cinema provides various forms of pleasure, including scopophilia or pleasure in looking.

According to Mulvey (1989: 16), there are situations where the act of looking itself brings pleasure, just as being looked at can also be enjoyable. Mulvey connects this desire to Freudian psychosexual theory, explaining that children are naturally curious about exploring the private areas of others that are off-limits to them. Thus, the act of looking becomes inherently sexual. In addition, Mulvey points out that Rear Window has strong ties to scopophilia, a term she uses to describe voyeuristic tendencies. Hitchcock, the director of the film, delves into the investigative side of voyeurism and cleverly positions the film's male protagonist to share the same viewpoint as the audience, emphasizing the significance of the point-of-view shots. Mulvey references Douchet's analysis of Rear Window, which highlights that sexual desire holds equal importance to the plot. This is particularly evident in Jeffries' lackluster relationship with Lisa as portrayed in the film.

The plot of the film provides an explanation for the fear of commitment in marriage, which is a shared trait with Cary Grant's character in North by Northwest. Mulvey presents a new perspective on this relationship, stating that Lisa was not sexually interesting to the main character until she crossed the barrier between their rooms. Mulvey also highlights the voyeuristic nature of the film, pointing out that the main character is a photographer. This is similar to Thornhill's

role in North by Northwest as he spends much of the film spying and looking. One can compare this to Norman Bates in Psycho, who has a fascination with watching others and even drills a peephole into the room where Marion Crane stays. Through this hole, we are given a point-of-view shot, seeing Marion as Norman sees her before he ultimately murders her.

The impact of factors such as production and meaning on a film can be analyzed by considering the work of an auteur like Hitchcock. Unlike directors like Albert Pyun, whose films lack talent and are not studied for their meaning, Hitchcock's approach to production allows for exclusive access to meaning according to the theory of auteur structuralism, as explained by Peter Wollen. Similarities can be found in the works of auteurs like Hitchcock because they all operate within their own distinct world, guided by contrasts.

In his essay, Wollen (1969: 138) points out that different movies by Ford highlight different pairs of opposites, demonstrating that these themes reappear in various forms throughout his work. This is similar to what I have previously shown in Hitchcock's films. Wollen further distinguishes between John Ford as a person and John Ford as an auteur, suggesting that the construction around his name contributes to the commodification of the director. The more associations and ideas the name evokes, the more appealing it becomes in marketing the film. For example, we may be inclined to watch North by Northwest primarily because it is a Hitchcock film and we are familiar with his style and content.

Unlike John Ford, Hitchcock proves to be more complex in this argument. He demonstrates his extroversion

through evidence such as his cameo in North by Northwest as the man who misses the bus. This cameo is amusing because it's funny, but also because we recognize Hitchcock. Along with frequent cameos in his films, he also appeared on television with deliberately slow, pronounced, and idiosyncratic speech.

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