Auteur Theory 39 A Clockwork Orange 39 and 39 Full Metal Jacket 39 as an example of Stanley Kubrick 39 s authorship

Auteur Theory 1
Auteur Theory: 'A Clockwork Orange' and 'Full Metal Jacket' as an example of Stanley
Kubrick's authorship
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Auteur Theory 2
Auteur Theory: 'A Clockwork Orange' and 'Full Metal Jacket' as an example of Stanley
Kubrick's authorship
Auteur theory is a notion in filmmaking where the director is perceived as the primary
creative influence in the motion picture. The theory maintains the director of a movie who
manages the visual and audio components of the film is more likely to be considered as the
“author” of the motion picture than the essayist of the script. An auteur is a director that
illustrates creative control that he or she can be easily be recognized as the creator of a particular
piece. Auteurs showcase recognizable and unique style and often concentrate on recurring
themes and cast. Stanley Kubrick film career span over four decades since the mid-1950s till his
death in 1999. During this period, Kubrick made several films where he crafted consistent
themes with a highly personalized style. He concentrated on minute details in every aspect of the
movies he created as his career continued to develop. He often used music in unconventional
ways including applying music to showcase emotion or tension. The soundscapes used in his are
powerful showcasing boldness or starkness and 'eventful' utilization of silence. The techniques
used in Kubrick’s movies, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘Full Metal Jacket’ showcases his position
as an auteur concerning his style.
Auteur theory
Explanation of Auteur Theory
The concept of auteurism began in France in the late 1940s as a method of criticism that
borrows from the filmmaking theories of Andre Bazin and Andrew Astruc and was first called
auteur theory by American movie criticizer Andrew Sarris. The term was born when a new and
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bold oppositional form of cinema made up of young men commonly known as “new wave” who
predominantly viewed and evaluated films by form of expression rather than content (Murray,
2014). Their criticism are largely documented in the journal of “Cahiers du cinema” in the
1950s. The “Cahiers” critics refused to acknowledge social relevance as a standard of quality and
majorly based value of the movie on montage. They maintained if cinema is to be recognized as
an art form, it is fundamental of each film to showcase a personal artistic vision which cannot be
achieved through theme and content but through an aesthetic form (Holmes, n.d., p. 159). Auteur
theory holds that the film is a reflection of the director’s artistic vision to the extent a motion
picture directed by a particular filmmaker is recognizable. The creator applies consistent themes
and similar visual queues in his films that inform the audience of the filmmaker’s identity.
Auteur theory played a significant role in authenticating film analysis as an academic subject in
the 20th century since it displays directors as artists and films as an art form (Murray, 2014, p.
Andre Bazin
Andre Bazin was a prominent French film critic and theorist. He began working on film
analysis in 1943 and was the confounder of the film “Cahiers du cinema” a film journal
renowned for popularizing the auteur theory which he edited until his death in 1958. Bazin
maintained that the interpretation of movies should be left to the spectators since he believed in
objective reality (Bazin, 1967-71). He was a key critic of the post-second World War films
where he maintained that movies depicted objective reality and in his theory of montage he
explains although necessary montage should not be overused (Blakeney, 2009). Bazin advocated
for deep focus in the creation of films and maintained that consistency is important in the
development of visual and audio effects. He termed consistency as “true continuity.” Bazin
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believed that a director should personalize a film with the consideration that a spectator would
most likely personalize the experience of watching. His belief in customization influenced the
belief that movies should represent the director’s vision. He felt that manipulation to images such
as dramatic sets and lighting stands in promoting the movie’s potential of realism. His ideas of
personalizing films and realism were fundamental in the development of the auteur theory
(Bazin, 1999). Many of the “cahiers” articles published in the 1950s were reviewed and edited
by Bazin illustrating his extensive influence on auteur theory. For instance, Francois Truffaut’s
article that fueled auteur concept was published by Bazin. Indeed, the ideas that Andre Bazin
advocated for such as realism, sound, invisible editing and deep focus for were vital in the
development of Auteur Theory.
Andrew Sarris
Andrew Sarris dubbed the auteur theory and made it famous in Hollywood when he
translated Truffaut’s 1954 “politique des auteurs” into English in 1962. Sarris illustrates that the
theory gives artistic and authorial power to the film director which enabled certain directors to
move beyond the collaborative aspect of Hollywood and imprint their recognizable artistic vision
into movies. He maintained that the foundation of the auteur notion is the distinct character of
the executive director as the standard of value (Bergan, 2012). Auteurs are acknowledged by
technical aptitude, artistic and thematic uniformity hence the possibility of ranking some
directors above others. In the 1996 publication of the “The American Cinema,” Sarris admits that
the auteur notion has certainly not been able to validate the claims it holds. He states he is
prepared to concede that “auteurism is more of a tendency rather than a theory, more mystique
than a methodology, more an editorial policy than an aesthetic procedure” (Murray, 2014, p. 9).
Sarris reveled that he was never really a theorist but rather a movie reviewer who in the early
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days of the auteur theory period was merely aspiring to make a living. However, Andrew Sarris
was vital in popularizing the concept of auteurism in Hollywood.
Examples of Films Authorship Clarifying Auteur Theory
Some of the most recognized direct that support the auteur theory are Alfred Hitchcock,
Stanley Kubrick, Jean-Lu Goddard and Tim Burton. Burton is a modern director that the current
generation of moviegoers can identify with. His movies display a similar theme where the lead
character is often considered a societal misfit. Examples of such actors encompass Batman,
Beetlejuice and to some degree Jack Skellington in ‘The Night before Christmas’ (North, 2007).
Tim Burton applies distinctive effects including stop-motion animation which is evident in both
‘The Night before Christmas’ and ‘Corpse Bride (Burton & Johnson, 2005).’ He often reuses
actors and actresses, for instance, his frequent use of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter
(Selick, 1993). In addition to using a recurring cast, he often uses the same crew as evident with
the recurrent use of Danny Elfman in managing the soundtrack.
Similarly, Alfred Hitchcock filmography is distinctive that it can be recognized in most
of his works. He often used elaborate camera angles and certain motions to establish a morbid
experience. Additionally, he often collaborated with the same crew and cast when making his
films. For instance, he worked with Bernard Hermann several who was involved in the creation
of several of his movies including Psycho, North by Northwest, Vertigo among others.
Moreover, most of his films are considered thrillers owing to their complex characterization,
suspense and twisted endings. In films such as “Shadow of a Doubt” and “Rear Window”, the
audience is introduced to an ordinary life until things turn around indicating Hitchcock mastery
of suspense.
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The auteur theory showcases three domains the first being technique, then personal style
and the third being interior meaning. According to the model, there are no specifications on how
the three components are presented and weighted in a movie. An auteur describes a director who
gives films a unique quality that illustrates personal creativity abilities (Tredge, 2013, p. 1). The
theory involves analyzing films with the perception that the director is the “author” of the film.
While various French critics developed the argument, they were inspired by cinematic theories of
Andre Bazin and Andrew Astruc, and later Andrew Sarris coined the term in 1962. Several
directors such as Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, and Tom Burton are considered auteurs
based on a recurring theme, reusing of cast and crew and a distinctive evident personal imprint
on the audio and visual of the movie.
Stanley Kubrick Authorship
Stanley Kubrick was a renowned American filmmaker and scriptwriter and has directed
several highly acclaimed films in a career that span for more than four decades. He is recognized
for his distinctive selection of characters, slow method of working, a powerful soundtrack and
technical precision hence the consideration of an auteur. Although he worked a variety of genres
including horror, science fiction, war and comedy, each of his films has traits that represent his
print. Unique camera style is one of the trademarks of Kubrick’s genius creations. Before he was
a movie director, Kubrick was an established photographer. He developed an interest in
photography at an early age and was predominantly motivated by his father who bought him his
first camera and installed a studio and darkroom in their New York apartment (Bane, 2006, p.
79). He soon became an adept photographer, and he sold his works to media houses. Kubrick
has a cunning eye for lighting and composition and the ability to capture images and videos that
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convey the message of the words they showcase. He is well-known for his attention to detail
(Perreault , 2013). Moreover, his films concentrated on controversial issues as the dominant
theme. He often uses similar shots and soundtrack in addition to recurring cast and crew and
filming locations. Kubrick has directed more than 15 titles including ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and
‘Full Metal Jacket.’
A Clockwork Orange
Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 ‘A Clockwise Orange’ was inspired by Antony Burgess’s novel
by the same title. The movie provided one of the remarkable arts in the filming industry.
However, the movie generated a controversy regarding its content in which attack and defense
were equally fervent. Debates over the last four decades have focused not only on the acts of
violence that the movie showcases but also on Kubrick’s style of narration. A clockwork orange
does not fit any subtle genre according to some critics. While it was originally classified as
science fiction, the movie could be said to be a psychological drama, black comedy or any other
hybrid categories (Strange, 2010, p. 268). The movie takes place in a near future in an urban
center. The film like the novel is a story of Alex a teenager who rape, and Beethoven’s
symphonies offer the same pleasures. Alex reflects on the stories of unconventional heroes. He
eventually falls as a victim in a society in which he once degraded after his arrest and undergoing
a particular experimental treatment that aimed to reduce criminality and sexual violence
(Kubrick , 1971). Kubrick presents Alex as an empathetic character despite his apparent vicious
behaviors in the first half of the movie.
Camera work
Auteur Theory 8
The film begins with a close-up of Alex’s face where the camera travels out to a long
shot which reveals Alex partners and eventually the camera focus on the space in which the
scene takes place. The scene showcases statues of women in various erotic positions and seconds
later Alex’s voice is heard illustrating that he is reflecting the past. The voice-over trails the
camera movements showcasing Alex, then his three droogs then the place. Alex’s position in the
center and his eyes focused on the camera illustrate his position as the nuclear character in the
narrative (Burgress, 1972, p. 34). Kubrick employs the use of verbal narrator throughout the film
when introducing new locations or elements of Alex’s routine. In the second section of the movie
which shows violence against Alex, Kubrick uses flat lighting and dialog in popular speech
styles connected to social realism.
Kubrick uses unique camera movements, voice-overs and certain presentation that
differentiate the film from the works of other directors. The movie is presented as a verbal
narration where the narrator Alex, presents the actions according to his view of them. Alex holds
a perverse perception of violence as a fun game and a distant reaction to the victim’s suffering
which illustrates his problematic personality. As such, the film showcases a character who haunts
the peace of people and a misfit in the society. The Initial images of the film illustrate something
unusual. A depressing music trails the acknowledgments which are superposed to a black cloth
with bright colors depicting Alex complicated personality
The dislocation of meanings utilized in the film creates irony in which the camera
showcases Alex’s thoughts. Due to Alex wicked ways, there seems to be an apparent dissonance
between camera-narrator that showcases the visual effects and voice-over stating the lead actor
thoughts. Kubrick manipulates the camera to focus on the suffering of Alex while assuming
Auteur Theory 9
those of the victims since the narrative is about Alex. Kubrick maintained the original language
of Nadst used in the novel, but he adds electronic musical counterpoint in addition to wide and
low camera angle shots and close-ups.
Full Metal Jacket
Full Metal Jacket was directed by Kubrick Stanley and produced in1987. The first half of
the movie revolves around the events of Marine training on Parris Island in the coast of South
Carolina. The video is directed through the eyes of Private Joker where Kubrick presents the
training of boys into men. The second part of the film showcases Vietnam as the American
frontier. The killings that end the two halves of the Full Metal Jacket are morally different
indicating the complex nature of reality and hence the moral ambiguity (Mather, 2007, p. 225).
The ending of the first part illustrates Kubrick questioning of American Modern War.
The Full Metal Jacket provides a radical criticism of war movie. The training sequence
presented in the first part of the film does not offer the desired well-knit unit of militants during
the war (Doherty, 1988, p. 26). Unlike the active groups of a conventional war that stay together,
the team in Full Metal Jacket break down and disintegrate when ambushed by a sniper. The
movie portrays a destruction of any normality that existed before training.
Camera Work
The filmography used in Full Market Jacket showcases Kubrick technical distinction
from other directors. For instance, in the long take of the Marines outside Hue, he inserts a
camera crew into the film and tracks from right to left rather than the typical left to right
(Thompson, 2011, p. 36).
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Kubrick utilizes a depersonalizing approach to language which makes it irrelevant to
separate the characters from each other. Kubrick moves from the generic conventions that other
war films have been since the early 70s by presenting Vietnam as a movie rather than a place or
state of mind (Svendson, 1989). Showing the war as a movie provides a critical understanding of
the war. In interviews, the director maintained that he wished to base the film on the Jungian
concept of shadow which represents particular suppressed weakness. In the case of Marines, the
shortcomings include youthfulness evident in the character of Pyle or femininity in the Sniper.
Kubrick concentrates on contrasting pairs when he uses both militaristic and absurd music.
Moreover, the movie has two distinct parts with another comparison such as masculinity versus
femininity. In atypical Kubrick fashion, he blends beauty and ugliness, politics and psychology,
sexuality and violence and blurs lines between military brutality and abuse in ways that no other
director could manage.
Common Denominator
The film Clockwork Orange talks about something broader than a psychotic teenager. It
probes questions related to the violence and sex it presents and the connection to human relations
(Burgess, 1962, p. 14). Kubrick movies tend to hold a pessimism in western capitalist
civilization. Similarly, Full Market Jacket shows a full frontal assault on American activism
indicating Kubrick lack of societal systems. Kubrick destabilizes several familiar war movie
myths and portrays the Vietnam War as a narrative. A Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket
present different genres from science fiction to psychological drama to war indicating that unlike
other auteur directors such as Hitchcock who were limited to a single category his work was
highly heterogeneous.
Auteur Theory 11
Kubrick films tend to thrive in ambiguity and general avoidance of ready answers evident
in both movies. In an interview in 1961, Kubrick himself stated that he preferred ambiguity in art
on the basis that obscurity is more suggestive and influential (Mather, 2007, p. 226). In both
movies, Kubrick artistry is remarkable as he illustrates his capacity for generating disturbing
narrative through employing and refining the basic techniques and resources of classical cinema.
A Clockwork Orange begins with a reverse zoom of Alex and the droogs and tracking shots of
Alex increased the visual and editing capabilities of Kubrick. His casting choices coupled with
distinct cinematic application distinguishes his work from those of other directors.
Language is a central theme in both films where the concept of narration is valued. In
Clockwork Orange, Alex narrates his story. Similarly, Full Metal Jacket adopts a self-reflective
tone from Joker’s opening line throughout the entire movie. In A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick
analyzed the removal of killer’s freedom of will to generate the “ideal” citizen while Full Metal
Jacket analysis the abolition of man’s free will to create a cold hard killer (Mainar, 1999, p. 34).
In both movies, the end showcases the characters as loyal slaves to the insisted ideology. While
Kubrick movies were personal reflecting his distinct style his visions impacted many writers and
directors in Hollywood including the ultra-violence depicted in A Clockwork Orange and the
destruction of recruits in Full Metal Jacket.
Auteur theory is a notion that maintains the director of the film is the “author” of the
movie since he applies distinctive artistic, thematic and visual effects that distinguish his works
from other directors. While the idea began in France where film critics insisted that for movies to
be considered as a form of art, it is necessary to emphasize way rather than the content it was
Auteur Theory 12
first dubbed Auteur theory by American film reviewer Andrew Sarris. Stanley Kubrick is one of
the few directors that are considered auteurs.
He is renowned for his attention to detail which increases the visual attractiveness of all
his movies. In Kubrick’s films, a scene not only a step in the storyline but also a thoughtfully
crafted piece of art. In both A Clockwork Orange and Full Metal Jacket Kubrick uses his
photography skills to create striking visuals using close-ups, chase angles, long tracking shots
and wide camera angles yet most directors in Hollywood had yet to achieve that level of classical
cinema manipulation level. Regarding the theme, Kubrick often thrived in the concept of
ambiguity by navigating a thin line between beauty and ugliness. In A Clockwork Orange, Alex
is depicted as both a vicious criminal and a victim of the state’s injustices. Similarly, The Full
Metal Jacket shows the brutality of war and how some soldiers survive presenting a case of
duality in masculinity and femininity, cruelty and abuse, politics and psychology and other war
themes. Kubrick showcases an ability to portray specific genres with a concept of ambiguity
coupled with powerful visual and editing effects that are distinct to his works hence representing
Auteur Theory 13
A Clockwork Orange. 1971. [Film] Directed by Stanley Kubrick . United Kingdom: Polaris
Productions: Hawk Films.
Bane , C., 2006. Viewing Novels, Reading Films: Stanley Kubrick and the Art of Adaptation as
Interpretation. LSU Doctoral Dissertations 2985, pp. 1-217.
Bazin , A., 1967-71. "Umberto D: A Great Work", s.l.: Berkeley: University of California Press .
Bazin , A., 1999. The Evolution of the Language of Cinema. Film Theory and Criticism .
Bergan , R., 2012. Andrew Sarris Obituary. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 17 December
Blakeney , K., 2009. An Anlysis of film critic Andre Bazin's Views on Expressionism and
Realism in Film. Inquiries Journal, 1(12).
Burgess, A. (1962). A Clockwork Orange . London : Penguin .
Burgress, A., 1972. A Clockwork Orange-Review. Film Quarterly, pp. 33-36.
Corpse Bride. 2005. [Film] Directed by Tim Burton , Mike Johnson. United kingdom, United
States : Tim Burton Productions, Laika Entertainment, Patalex Productions .
Corrigan , T., 1998. Auteurs and New Hollywood. The New American Cinema , pp. 38-69.
Da Mata, A. C., 2002. Blissful Violence : Ambiguity in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange.
Universidade Federal De Santa Catarina, pp. 1-72.
Auteur Theory 14
Doherty, T., 1988. Full Metal Genre: Stanley Kubrick's Vietman Combat Movie. Film Quartley,
42(2), pp. 24-30.
Douglas , D., 1994. Stanley Kubrick: A Narrative and Stylistic Review. The Cinematic Critique,
6(2), pp. 217-222.
Full Metal Jacket. 1987. [Film] Directed by Stanley Kubrick . United Kingdom : Natant Harrier
films .
Holmes , D., n.d. Sex, Gender and Auteurism: The French New Wave and Hollywood . In:
s.l.:s.n., pp. 154-169.
Mainar, G. L. (1999). Narrative and stylistic patterns in the films o stanley Kubrick. London :
Candem House.
Mather, P., 2007. The Philosophy of Stanley Kubrick. Film Philosophy, 11(3), pp. 224-230.
Murray , V., 2014. Collaborative Authorship in Film Production: Walter Murch and Film
Editing. The International Journal of New Media, Technology and The Arts , 8(2), pp. 9
North , I., 2007. Auteur Theory in Film Criticism. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 17 December 2017].
Perreault , M., 2013. Notes on the Politics of Auteur: Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson and the
Spectator. Honors Thesis , pp. 1-97.
Strange, C., 2010. Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange as Art against Torture. Crime Media
Culture, 6(3), pp. 267-284.
Auteur Theory 15
Svendson , J., 1989. Review Essay: Gilbert Adair, Hollywood's Vietnam. From The Green
Berets to Full Metal Jacket.. American Studies in Scandinavia, Volume 21, pp. 96-108.
The Night Before Christmas. 1993. [Film] Directed by Henry Selick. United States: Touchstone
Pictures, Skellington Productions.
Thompson , A. W., 2011. Stanley Kubrick and the American Myth. Boston University College
Libraries Thesis , pp. 1-53.
Tredge, D., 2013. A Case Study on Fim Authorship: Exploring the Theoritical and Practical sides
in Film Production. Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications , 4(2),
pp. 1-4.

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