Linda Haverty Rugg, Self-Projection: The Director's Image in Art Cinema.
Since the 1960s and the emergence of Auteur Theory in film studies, the recognition of film directors has found a new direction. In Self Projection, Linda Haverty Rugg explores the role of directors in art cinema as the creative source behind their films. In her engaging study, she explains how a director's desire to be recognized as the creator of the film overlaps with the spectator's acknowledgement of the director as the film's author and creates a complex cinematic spectatorship. This spectatorship foregrounds a notion of constructed "Self" on and off screen that is directly related to the author as a person and is projected to the viewer through the cinematic apparatus. This cinematic interrelationship, therefore, constitutes a collaborative subjectivity that resides in the connection of director/author, actor, and spectator. Some directors might appear in their films while others might project some parts of their real life through its embodiment by an actor. In either case, the author's self-projection connects the systems of production and reception. To closely examine this connection, Harverty Rugg focuses on specific male film authors, including Ingmar Bergman, Francois Truffaut, Woody Allen, Pedro Almodovar, Werner Herzog, Andrei Tarkovsky, Federico Fellini, and Lars von Trier. In four chapters, she discusses how the dominance of an auteurist vision works toward the construction of an author's "self-hood."
Chapter One centers on the appearance of a director/author within a filmic narrative. Here, the performing body of the director on the screen connects to the body of the director off screen and blurs the boundaries of cinematic and real worlds. In fact, the perception of the director's role on the screen is understood through a self-projection related to his status as a filmmaker off screen. Woody Allen's appearance in his films is a good example in this regard as Allen's specific voice, body gestures, and expressions are not merely a caricatured portrayal of him; rather, as Haverty Rugg puts it, "this is a person the viewer has come to know, not just as a name or a style but as an embodied being" (43). It is important to note that Allen seems to sustain his signature gestures and bodily expressions beyond his films, which further strengthens the viewer's association of his roles on the screen with his nonfictional persona. Chapter Two is based on the roles of directors as directors in narrative films, with a specific focus on documentaries and mockumentaries representing the making of authors' films. For instance, the documentary Ingmar Bergman Makes a Movies (1963) by Vilgot Sjoman, centering on the making of Winter Light (Nattvardsgasterna, 1963), is not only about the production process of an author's film, but it also foregrounds Ingmar Bergman's figure as the film's director and highlights his cinematic agency as the main vision behind the film. Here, the representation of author as the director within the film's narrative provides a close interaction of the director projected on the screen with his real-life persona and the self-projection in this situation emerges through the emphasis on the author's figure and his eminent agency. Chapter Three works with the idea of the author's embodiment in a film through an actor who is an innate part of author's self-projection. Through this embodiment, both the bodies and the minds of director and actor align with each other so that the actor works as a mediator between the director and the spectator in the process of author's recognition. One of the main instances in this regard is the professional and personal relationship between Jean-Pierre Leaud and Francois Truffaut. Following the appearance of Leaud in The 400 Blows (Les quatre cents coups, 1959) as Antoine Doinel, Truffaut and Leaud continued their cinematic collaboration for almost 20 years by working on the character of "Antoine Doinel." In fact, Jean-Pierre Leaud is the cinematic persona of Truffaut on the screen and his son-like friend off screen, and their closeness comes to merge in the character of Antoine Doinel in Truffaut's films. The final chapter looks at the cinematic apparatus as a technological tool through which the spectator is reminded of the auteurist vision. The emphasis on the cinematic apparatus (camera, projection, screen, movie theatre, etc.) within a filmic narrative is a reminder of how the film is made by a director/author whose cinematic works and style are distinguishable for the spectator, as he/she believes in the creative presence of that director. The opening scene of Ingmar Bergman's Persona (1966), representing close up shots of a film projector and its operation along with a film negative with animated images, is a direct reference to the film's machinery. Although the close up shots of the cinematic projector make the involvement of human in the cinematic apparatus invisible, it still showcases the film as an artistic construct, and to be more precise, a construct of the director to whom the cinematic apparatus is referring. In general, Self-Projection offers a provocative study of the integration of the author's vision with the filmic narrative through a complex process in which director, actor, spectator, and cinematic apparatus are actively involved. Linda Harverty Rugg's compelling arguments in regard to auteurism and the director's self-projection pave the way for other scholarly works that might consider women authors and the issues of gender, race, and ethnicity through cinematic self-projection.
Najmeh Moradiyan Rizi
University of Kansas
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|Author:||Rizi, Najmeh Moradiyan|
|Publication:||Film & History|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2016|
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