Monday, February 06, 2006

A theory of screenwriters

In the LA Times David Kipen challenges the idea of film directors as auteurs.
To enter a parallel universe, just dial (323) 782-4591. A blithe female voice speaks the titles of half a dozen or so current movies, the dates and times they will screen at a certain private auditorium in Beverly Hills and, finally, the names of the filmmakers responsible. The titles are largely familiar. The names, to any but the most uncommon cinephile, are not. Lately, the recording has alerted callers to showtimes for such pictures as Tony Kushner and Eric Roth's "Munich," and Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan's "The Producers."

Hasn't there been some mistake? Didn't Spielberg direct "Munich"? Didn't Susan Stroman direct "The Producers"?

Yes, as a matter of fact, they did. They just didn't write them. And to the Writers Guild of America and its Film Society, whose number you've just dialed — if to practically nobody else in the filmgoing world — directing isn't everything. As for whether there's been some mistake, in fact there has, and too many people have been making it for far too long. It's called the auteur theory.

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