quinta-feira, 1 de outubro de 2015

Auteur, yes, but of what?

I admit that the explicit or admitted pretension of a critic to reconsider the production of a filmmaker with every new film in the light of his judgement has something presemptuous about it that recalls Ubu. I am also quite willing to admit that of one is human one cannot help doing this, and, short of giving up the whole idea of actually criticizing, one might as well take as a starting point the feelings, pleasant or unpleasant, one feels personally when in contact with a film. Okay, but only on condition that these first impressions are kept in their proper place. We have to take them into consideration, but we should not use them as a basis. In other words, every critical act should consist of referring the film in question to a scale of values, but this reference is not merely a matter of intelligence; the sureness of one's judgement arise also, or perhaps even first of all (in the chronological sense of the word), from a general impression experienced during a film. I feel there are two symmetrical heresies, which are (a) objectively applying to a film a critical all-purpose yardstick, and (b) considering it sufficient simply to state one's pleasure or disgust. The first denies the role of taste, the second presupposes the superiority of the critic's taste to that of the author. Coldness... or presumption!


It is unfortunate to praise a film that in no way deserves it, but the dangers are less far-reaching than when a worthwhile film is rejected because its director has made nothing good up to that point.


To conclude: the politique des auteurs seems to me to hold and defend and essential critical truth that the cinema needs more than the other arts, precisely because ac act of true creation is more uncertain and vulnerable in the cinema than elsewhere. But its exclusive practice leads to another danger: the negation of film to the benefit of praise of its auteur. I have tried to show why mediocre auteurs can, by accident, make admirable films, and how, conversely, a genius can fall victim to an equally accidental sterility. I feel that this useful and fruitful approach, quite apart from its polemical value, should be complemented by other approaches to the cinematic phenomenon which will restore to a film its quality as a work of art. This does not mean one has to deny the role of the auteur, but simply give him back the preposition without which the noun auteur remains a halting concept. Auteur, yes, but what of?

Andre Bazin - On the politique des auteurs (1957)

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