The Auteur Theory

First proposed by Francois Truffaut in 1956, the auteur theory suggests that a director’s film represents that directors personal creative vision.

Recurrent themes and styles emerge from the auteur’s work, and even their choice of work, suggests their vision will always shine through, no matter how much studio interference or collective input in any given film.

The work of the auteur is truly special and unique amidst a crowded marketplace of movies, and demands examination to provide a richer viewing experience.

This course looks specifically at the modern auteurs of our time, analysing their work and discussing the themes and characteristics that define their work.


NB - the full films WILL NOT be shown during the classes, but extracts will be shown to support the discussions.



WEEK 1: The Auteur Theory (An Introduction)

To kick off the course we will dip into the history of cinema and look at what characterises an auteur. How the theory is defined and what makes an auteurs work distinct from the mainstream, setting the context for the weeks ahead and the auteurs covered in the course.

We will look at a range of directors from Hitchcock to Burton and beyond to examine exactly what makes an auteur.


Required viewing: Vertigo (1958) and Edward Scissorhands (1990)


WEEK 2: The Modern Master - David Lynch

It seems appropriate for our first auteur to be one of the seminal visionaries of modern cinema.

A David Lynch film is unmistakable. A true artist who sees the world thru his own altered perspective. 

We look at exactly what makes a David Lynch film and ask why a visionary like this finds it so difficult to get backing for his work.


Required viewing: Blue Velvet (1986) and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992), Twin Peaks: the Return (2017)

Additional viewing: Lost Highway (1997)



WEEK 3: The Female Voice - Andrea Arnold and Lynne Ramsey

Two very uncompromising female filmmakers who represent operate in a historic male dominated profession.

Arnold has always done things her own way and forged her own realistic style with her human struggle stories.

Arnold fights for integrity in whatever she does.

Similarly Lynne Ramsay is utterly uncompromising in her film choices and the creative control she requires in order for her vision to retain its purity, often at teh expense of a more prolific filmography.

Required viewing: Fish Tank (2009), American Honey (2016) Red Road (2006) 

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)  Ratcatcher (1999)

Additional viewing: You were Never really here (2017)


WEEK 4: The Outsider - Stanley Kubrick

What is meant by - Operating outside the system?  This week looks at the enigmatic Kubrick, exploring his fastidious and painstaking methodology of work and the fascinating themes in his work.


Required viewing: 2001 (1968) & Clockwork Orange (1972)

Additional Viewing: Dr Stranglove


WEEK 5: The Marmite Man - Wes Anderson

Some adore Anderson’s precision theatricality.  Every detail bristling with a mannered control.  Others find his work stilted and overly theatrical.

Whatever your opinion, Anderson makes films on his own terms and in his own completely unique way.  There is no-one like Anderson working in contemporary cinema.


Required viewing: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) and the Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Additional viewing: Moonrise Kingdom (2011)


WEEK 6: Playing The System - Christopher Nolan

It’s been suggested that Nolan is making giant arthouse within the studio system, a theory borne out by work like Inception.

Nolan’s underlying themes come through no matter the scale of the film, and makes for fascinating examination.


Required viewing: Inception (2010) and Memento (2000)

Additional viewing: The Prestige (2006)

Course runs from 09 February 2021 for 6 weeks at 8pm GMT for 2 hours per session.   Total cost £42