A Singular Vision
“In making a film, I start with an emotion, a feeling, a sense of a subject or a situation. The theme and technique come as a result of the material passing, as it were, through myself and coming out of the projector lens. – Stanley Kubrick
Kubrick is often described as an auteur. Auteur theory—in which the director, rather than the screenwriter, is regarded as the “author” of a film—was first proposed in 1948 in an article by the French film critic and director Alexandre Astruc for the journal “L’Écran français.” Astruc identified consistency of visual style and thematic preoccupations across a body of work characteristic of what would become known as auteur filmmaking. In 1962 the film critic Andrew Sarris produced a model in the form of a diagram that makes the interconnection between the director and the film clearer.
According to this model, meaning, style, and skill do not flow in a singular direction but radiate outward while simultaneously folding inward. Ultimately the fusion of content with style and the director’s voice are so deeply intertwined that one cannot consider them as distinct from each other.
Citing the collaborative nature of film production— the fact that the cinematographer, production designer, costumer designer, editors, and actors may significantly shape a film—some contemporary criteria have challenged auteur theory, debunking arguments for single authorship in filmmaking. Whether one subscribes to the theory or not, Stanley Kubrick fits the description of the auteur. He often said that film was closer to music or painting than to the printed word in the way that it operates, and his working methods were practically those of an artist. He developed a new and essential relation between content and mise-en-scène for each film, amplifying the meaning of the narrative through manpulation of the physical aspects of light, color, movement, and performance.
“ I think you have to view the entire problem of putting the story you want to tell up there on that light square. It begins in the selection of the property; it continues through the creation of the right kind of financial and legal and contractual circumstances under which you make the film. It continues through the casting, the creation of the story, the sets, the costumes, the photography, and the acting. And when the picture is shot, it’s only partially finished. I think the cutting is just a continuation of directing a movie. I think the use of music effects, opticals, and finally main titles are all part of telling the story. And I think the fragmentation of these jobs, by different people, is a very bad thing.” – Stanley Kubrick