To the public at large, the director wasn’t always the person most responsible for a film. That was the producer; the director was just someone who turned up and made sure actors hit their marks. But in the ’50s, writers at French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma (including future French New Wave directors François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, and Claude Chabrol) expanded on notions developed in the ’40s that said a director could be considered the author of a film, with a director’s body of work representing the expression and examination of a core set of personal concerns.

In 1962 American film critic Andrew Sarris published the essay Notes on the Auteur Theory, which imported the Cahiers crew’s ideas, and quickly became the defining rulebook for film authorship. Whether Sarris was correct or not, he turned into one of the most influential writers on film, and his work continues to define how viewers approach movies. Indeed, the director became more prominent because he and others spoke for that prominence, so it could be argued that he helped change movies, period.

Today Andrew Sarris died at the age of 83, reportedly due to complications from an infection developed after a fall. Read More »