Reading Film (Fall 2011)

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Assignment #3 (3rd Revision)

October 24th, 2011 by Daniel Min · 1 Comment · 3 Investigative Proposal

Daniel K. Min

October 24, 2010

ENG 110

Assignment # 3

            Film critic Anne Thompson referred to Steven Soderbergh as a “stylistic chameleon”, he is a versatile director and is known for multifaceted features throughout his body of work, it’s very hard to categorize his way of filmmaking because of his undistinguishable characteristics (not keen on one particular genre, but a whole assortment of genres such as science fiction, war, heist, romantic comedy, german expressionism etc.) and how he interchanges his style. Alfred Hitchcock on the other hand is an “auteur”, where we as film goers are able to recognize his approach to cinema and more than capable enough to identify his signature (persistent use of protagonist falling from high places, countless images of birds etc). Career filmmakers have their own unique distinct voice that progressively grows throughout their career. Since most renowned directors have personal creativity over their collection of works by establishing their signatures in the world of cinema, it should also be apparent in some of Soderbergh’s films regardless if he acknowledges it or not. Therefore, Is Steven Soderbergh a stylistic chameleon that intentionally creates films with undistinguishable characteristics (features that doesn’t specifically stigmatize the work of a filmmaker) or is he an auteur much like Hitchcock that establishes a signature (features that do specifically stigmatize the work of a filmmaker) with a unique distinct voice of his own?

Some audiences can overlook the concept of the auteur theory as they watch certain movies from well known directors. Although film enthusiast might be familiar with Hitchcock’s innovative use of all sorts of elements into his films and establish a unique distinct voice of his own, it is more so difficult for audiences who are unfamiliar with Hitchcock’s films, therefore I would like to investigate the concept of what it means to be an auteur and how this can also apply to Soderbergh’s style of filmmaking. I will investigate further questions as to whether if Soderbergh is putting his own creativity throughout his body of work as an auteur or Hollywood exercising their restraint through conventional means of having full control of Soderbergh’s films by enforcing collaborative integration with other film producers who might not consider his creative method as idealistic, thus dubbing him a stylistic chameleon due to Sodebergh flip-flopping between independent films and mainstream cinema. Upon further investigation this will help the audience outline the director’s signature that makes his films uniquely his own.

Initially I would like to investigate the essence of which a career filmmaker must have in order to become an auteur. It leaves a query how auteur can manipulate our range of emotions by evoking us with his or her unique sense of creativity through the choice of material and underlying symbolism just like other form of art. I would also like to distinguish what characteristics that Steven Soderbergh has and why some might consider him an auteur or a stylistic chameleon based on the fundamental level of the auteur theory. Steven Soderbergh is different from other directors because of his diverse body of work. Fans of Soderbergh who try to pin down their own interpretation on what similar values that all of his films share will most likely be debated between what is considered an art film or mainstream cinema, therefore I would like to observe this matter on the principle of art because it will help me delineate the work of Soderbergh from other well known directors.

In order to analyze further proposition, I will be reading treatises from Cahiers du Cinéma. Discourse from Andre Bazin, Francois Traffaut, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer and other directors associated with the Nouvelle Vague which will help me understand more about the auteur theory and the artistic perspective of cinema. I will look for more information from other magazines and journals such as the New Yorker, Los Angeles, Interview and other publications that discusses about Steven Soderbergh’s stylistic approach to cinema. I will also read film journals such as Film comment, Film quarterly, Film society review in order to understand his undistinguishable characteristics and well known career filmmakers like Hitchcock who establish his signature throughout his body of work, therefore as I go further into this project I can decipher if Steven Soderbergh is really a stylistic chameleon or an auteur.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Kevin L. Ferguson

    I think we’re getting there–you’ve certainly done a much better in the paragraphs developing your central concept and topics. I’m not 100% sure about the question. It seems like the first sentence answers your question (yes, he’s a chameleon). It might be that the phrasing of the question is too yes or no? There might be help for this in the second paragraph–where you start by suggesting something about how general audiences might or might not pay attention to auteurism. Maybe you could rephrase the components of your question to include the idea of motive?

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