Hollywood Studios Were Once Cinema's 'Auteurs' By Steve Libowitz The way movies are made, and perhaps perceived by scholars and critics, changed forever in the mid-1950s. That's when a group of hot-shot young French film critics, led by Fran‡ois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, started insisting that movies were the director's event. These were the writers of the New Wave, and their premise was dubbed the "auteur theory," that directors should use film as an artist uses a canvas--for a continuity of personal expression of style and themes. This theory contradicted what had been the cinematic reality for the two decades prior to the New Wave, a time when the Hollywood movie studios--the dream factories themselves--were the auteurs. That is the subject of a three-day conference sponsored by the Hopkins Film and Media Studies Program. "There is a distinctive approach to the study of film history at Hopkins that links the work and interest of students and faculty," said Jerome Christensen, director of the program and the conference coordinator. "As a relatively new [departmental] minor at Hopkins, we wanted to hold a conference at which we could engage in discussion and debate with outside scholars regarding the importance of studying the way individual Hollywood studios stamped their own distinctive images and styles on films during the so-called golden era." The conference convenes in 110 Gilman on Friday, April 28, at 2 p.m. and runs through a general discussion at noon on Sunday. Admission is free and open to the public. There will be a free screening of the 1947 film Conspirators at 9 p.m. on Friday in 110 Gilman. "The Hollywood Studio as Auteur" will bring to the Homewood campus some of the country's most prominent scholars and critics whose work investigates how the individual studios and their moguls--so entrenched as the dominant system of movie production, distribution and exhibition throughout the 1930s and 1940s-- created popular and identifiable recurring themes and cinematic styles for a world gone mad for the movies. Thomas Schatz, whose book The Genius of the System is arguably the definitive work on the subject of how the studio system operated economically and created cinematically, will be the first speaker at 2 p.m. on Friday, discussing "The New Hollywood." Several Hopkins graduate students, as well as professors Christensen and Mark Crispin Miller, will make presentations during the weekend. For more information, call Diane Hiebel, at 516-7650.
Go to Gazette Homepage