Blog 6 – Auteur Theory & Film Review

For this week’s blog task, you are asked to write a short, 500-word film review of a film you have seen, made by an ‘auteur’ director with a distinctive personal style.

Ahead of writing your review we recommend that you research this task in the following ways:

1) Research your chosen director and their cultural context

2) Look at examples of film reviews to get a feeling for critics’ styles. Consider what they choose to focus on in their reviews, though try to avoid reviews of the film you plan to write about, as other reviewers could influence your judgement. Metacritic is a useful site where can read a range of film reviews by respected critics:

3) Revisit your week 1 ‘glossary’ blog post for useful terminology

4) Revisit the notes you’ve made this week about the criteria you personally use to evaluate films


Auteurism is a critical approach to the study of film which identifies the director as responsible for whatever the viewer finds of thematic, stylistic or structural interest in a single film or across a body of work by one director.

Auteur is a  French term meaning author.  The idea of auteurism in relation to film originated in the pages of the film journal Cahiers du Cinéma in the 1950s to refer to directors who infuse their films with their distinctive personal vision through the salient manipulation of film technique.

Auteurs, seen as genuine artists, were contrasted with metteurs-en-scène who were held to be technically competent directors who merely executed the processes of filmmaking without consistently stamping their ‘personality’ on the material from one film to the next.

Bong Joon-ho is a South Korean filmmaker. His films feature social themes, genre-mixing, dark humour, and sudden tone shifts. In 2017, Metacritic ranked Bong 13th on its list of the 25 best film directors of the 21st century. His main inspirations are from Guillermo del Toro, Oshima Nagisa and Martin Scorsese.

His process when working with actors is to give them a high amount of freedom when performing, even allowing them to improvise. Bong has commented that he doesn’t like the term ‘Directing Actors’ as he feels that “acting is the actor’s job and it’s something I don’t feel like I can direct”.

Actor Ed Harris described Bong’s shooting process as “cutting while filming”. “If I was doing a scene and it was a couple of pages long, he would never shoot the whole thing one way. He’d shoot a few lines, like the first beat of the scene, and then he would turn the camera around and get my part for that part of the scene. Then he would change the angle a little bit”. He additionally noted that “the editor was sitting right there on the stage, right below the set with a big tent, actually getting the footage as they were filming.  Fellow actor Daniel Henshall notes: “Bong only shoots what he’s going to use in the edit. Doesn’t do any coverage. I’ve never worked like that before. You’re trimming the fat before you’ve shot it, which is very brave, because when you get into the edit, if something’s missing you haven’t got it. He’s been planning it for four years that meticulously”.


Okja – Bong Joon-Ho

2017 – social commentary on industry, class, rich & poor – common Bong Joon-Ho themes.

From watching a handful of Bong Joon-Ho films, I can notice specific styles and themes in which the director follows when creating films. Joon-Ho for example, often follows themes surrounding the discussion of class divide, rich and poor and often the film as a whole turns out to be some kind of social commentary. Asked to write a  film review of a film I have seen made by an auteur, I believe that Bong Joon-Ho fits the description of an auteur due to the flare and unique style of his films.

Bong Joon-Ho is a South Korean director and filmmaker and as previously mentioned, has a unique filmmaking style. His films like to make a note on social themes, mixing genre’s and sudden tonal shifts. First gaining recognition for his second feature film in 2003, Memories of Murder. He later gained more popularity for films such as 2006’s, The Host, and 2013’s, Snowpiercer. Most famously, he recently won the title of Best Picture, Best Director and Best International Film at the 2020 Oscars for his 2019 film, Parasite. Along with these, his 2017 film, Okja, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival, is the film I will be discussing today.

A film that impacted me in such a way, I cried for 4 hours after viewing – I wasn’t aware before viewing what an, apologies for the cliche saying, emotional rollercoaster this film would take me on. Already being vegan, I thought I was doing my part for the planet and the abolishment agricultural industry… but Okja truly made me feel like I could do more and wanted to beg people to stop giving money to the industry. As an animal lover, this film truly shone a light on how powerful a bond can be between animals and humans – and despite the “super pig” being a fictional animal; my heart still yearned the same. The film itself takes tonal risks and doesn’t conform to a forward plot – the contrast between the characters which exemplifies the class and racial differences between western countries and the South Korean country-side/farm land is strong – a constant theme throughout many of Joon-Ho’s repertoire. Many of his films also contain a commentary on the consequences that befall humanity and Nature when corporate interests rule such as The Host and Snowpiercer.

A property of this film that stands out the most are the tonal shifts in the film and how the genre seems to continuously change – leaving the viewer guessing and waiting in anticipation. Not knowing if you’re going to be laughing or crying in the next 10 seconds, he didn’t shy away from the cruelty animals face and how it affects others. Nonetheless, I feel as if that some of the characters in the western world such as characters played by Tilda Swindon and Jake Gyllenhaal are under developed and often feels jarring in the storyline. However, I believe that that is done purposefully… Joon-Ho is wanting you to emotionally connect more with the animals and the characters of lower class, not the industry fuelled mechanical money-makers.






Task 5 – Genre

Pick a film genre and write 500 words about its conventions, using some of the analytical approaches discussed in this week’s session. You might consider the role of:

• iconography

• narratives themes, characters & plots

• conflict/consensus

• audience and industry,

• ideology, identity & society




  • La La Land (2016)
  • The Jazz Singer (1927)
  • Annie (1982)
  • Cabaret (1972)
  • Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
  • West Side Story (1961)
  • A Star is Born (2018)
  • Hairspray (2007)
  • The Greatest Showman (2017)

Genre is often hard to define and always changing and there’s often a formula to stick to so that a genre is identifiable. However, you often don’t want to stick to all conventions to avoid being too predictable and cliche. It is said that genre films can create realism within the confines of their conventions.

First popular in the great depression in the 20’s, (when spirits needed to be lifted)… the Musical genre seems to have been on a steady decline ever since. Nevertheless, I think that this genre is in-fact an interesting one in terms of iconography, narrative themes, characters, plots, conflict, audience and much more. I also believe that the musical genre has a large impact on society and has a high social impact than arguably any other genre. Since the recent release of La La Land – a contemporary twist on a classic formula – an interest in the musical genre has been reignited and the traditional cliche’s back with new twists.

Musicals feature a lot of movement, often in the form of dance – whether big or small numbers there is almost always the element of dance in musical films. Dance can help convey emotions that else would be difficult to show on the screen. They can act as metaphors, emotive relief, climax, show conflict and much more. Singing is also a key feature of most musicals and once again can help to either convey particular emotions or to contextualise and reason the emotions and acts that the audience have seen prior. Songs can also be used to forebode happenings and can include leitmotifs to represent specific characters, feelings, etc. Stereotyped as “over-the-top”, the musical genre is also often fueled by either a romance or feud… or both somewhere in the storylines – like most films there is a conflict and a resolution – sometimes some more intense than others.

Iconography – What things look like and what they signify – (Colin McArthur)

Iconography for the musical genre would often be bright colours, a bold title, big musical numbers, large dance sequences, and elaborate sets. Old, original Hollywood musicals were shot in 2.55 CinemaScope, a format that was used prominently throughout the 1950s before Hollywood converted to the 2.40: 1 aspect ratio you see used in most films today. Furthermore, shooting on film is often done to pay homage to these old Hollywood musicals and/or used to reap the benefits of shooting on film such as the depth and tone of the colours and the intricacy.

Narratives themes, characters & plots – Types of people and what happens – (Thomas Schatz)

Narrative themes for musicals are often fighting for love, fighting for something, wishing for more out of life and then realising you don’t want it, community etc. Within this genre, songs are sung by the characters to advance the plot or develop the film’s characters or themes and are ways to outwardly express emotion through song and dance

Conflict/consensus – Claimed that all films are either those two categories aka Gangsta/Romance – (Thomas Schatz)

There is often always a conflict within the film and story itself which causes tension and therefore a change of pace in the story. I don’t agree with the statement that films can be put into two categories as I think that this is a rather limiting statement as each film to their own and there can be many different categories to a film and in this case, a musical film. “Bugsy Malone” (1976) is an example of both gangsta and romance within a musical.

Audience and industry – The relationship between audience intentions, filmmakers intention, audience behaviour and industry – (Tom Ryall)

As stated above, the musical genre seems to boom during and the aftermath of an episode of great economic/global depression as it acts as a source of hope, positivity, and entertainment. I believe that from the start of this genre these have always been the intentions of the filmmakers in question of musical films.

Ideology, identity & society – Repetition and Difference within formula & reflection of society – (Steve Neal)

Musicals often like to replicate society at either the time that it is set or the time that it is made. However, as musicals were originally used to seek escapism, the worlds in which musicals were set were slightly different to our own.

Society and History

Musicals became popular in the Great Depression which started in 1929 and lasted until the late 30’s. People needed their spirits lifted and a distraction during these time – this was when musicals boomed.

Task 4 – Film on Film

Film On Film In this week’s blog task you are asked to make a short 1 minute film using available technology.

The film’s subject matter is film itself.

Consider how you could use aspects of film making such as framing, composition, movement, edit/montage, lighting, time/duration, and direction in order to draw attention to the qualities of film itself.

You are also asked to write a short evaluation of your work (no more than 200 words), contextualising your reflexive film with reference to the work of relevant others.


Wanting to parody the concept of integration scenes within the film industry, I created a 1-minute parody of crime drama interrogation scenes. Often with low fluorescent lighting and p.o.v shots, I wanted to recreate this within my own parody filmed in my own home by adjusting the colour grade in post-production. Playing on the gimmick of the inspector often smoking in scenes, we recreated that also. Dramatic and over-the-top was how I directed my “actors” to act, paying homage to early cinema where is was very over-dramatic. Using mostly P.O.V shots, it puts you in the seat of either party, finding it difficult to sympathise with one or the other. Breaking the 180-degree rule, it adds a sense of tension and mischief to the piece.




Task 3 – Introduce a Character

Task 3

This week we have considered how characters are realised in filmic terms.

For Blog task 3 you are asked to produce the first page of a screenplay that will introduce a character you have worked on during this week’s activities.

1) Write a draft of the dialogue, (or monologue), that you want to include in your opening scene.

2) Using the first page of Jojo Rabbit (below page 2) as a guide, add instructions for the cinematographer (e.g. ‘quick detail shot,’ ‘close-up’), as well as the costume, set and sound designers, if appropriate.

3) In particular, think about filmic ways of introducing your character’s internal or external conflicts.

4) Post the first page of your screenplay to your blog with a short summary of your story idea as outlined in your five-finger pitch.

The idea with this start of the script is to confuse the viewer and for them to form their own thoughts about the character before she speaks based on stereotypes and character archetypes. The scene opens in a messy room with a girl in her late twenties waking up. Often in films, a montage would take place of them getting ready to poppy music doing stereotypical ‘female’ things such as putting on makeup, perhaps then a singing in the shower scene, etc. You would then assume that her job wasn’t too professional due to 1. being a woman in a messy bedroom and 2. not being too put together. The audience gets the “getting ready” montage however it is very quick with block colours. Not too much effort is put into their appearance regarding the stereotypical “women can’t make decisions about clothes” concept. We get an insight into habits that almost all humans do – poping spots. Something which will then make the character seem more human to the character but then erasin te female stereotype further. When Hannah, our character is about to leave, the audience are unsure where she is going – most likely work due to the attire and time of morning… but we are still unsure. Our character then gets a phone call which we quickly learn is work… and she works in a field that was not expected.

Task 2 – Make & Evaluate A One-Shot Film

Task 2

In this week’s session, we looked at the technical and aesthetic qualities of ‘early cinema’ (circa 1895-1905). Now you are asked to make a One-Shot Film using readily available technology (eg mobile phone camera). In ‘homage’ to early cinema you are asked to adhere to the following ‘rules’:

1. The film should be no longer than 45 seconds duration (and not much shorter)

2. It should consist of just one continuous shot, and no edits

3. It may have an opening title and end credits

4. The camera may tilt and pan but should remain ‘rooted’ to one place

5. No sound

6. Your subject matter should be deliberately ‘mundane’, in the manner of the ‘cinema of attractions’, where the mere fact of image movement was sufficient to sustain audience interest

Overall, I am pleased with this short film which captures the everyday motions of working on a laptop in a cafe. Ironically shot on a laptop webcam in a cafe, this short film is successfully exactly 45 seconds, is one continuous shot and the camera is “rooted” to one place. Furthermore, there is no sound to my film and my matter is deliberately mundane which follows the code and conventions of the technical and aesthetic qualities of early cinema and follows the manners of the “cinema of attractions” where just the movement of the image was enough to entertain. In post-production, I added a grain effect and black and white color grade to the video.

Looking back now from times of self-isolation due to COVID-19, what was above once a mundane matter and something we took for granted is now a luxury we cannot have – working in a cafe with a coffee. The small film I created has captured in a simple way the luxuries we once had and didn’t know that we wouldn’t be able to in a month’s time.

Task 1 – Film Terms Glossary


For your first post, give definitions for each of the following film language terms.

This glossary that I am creating will be used all throughout this semester and will be a blog post that I will be constantly updating and referring to. All websites/books etc. that I have used for these film terms I will reference at the end in the appropriate Harvard style. Along with finding online sources, study material from lectures such as powerpoints were a useful research and learning tool.

  1. MISE EN SCENE: My own way of describing what “mise-en-scene” is would be simply, everything that the audience can see on screen during a scene. Through further research, I learned that the French phrase is known as “the arrangement of the scenery, props, etc. on the stage of a theatrical production or on the set of a film” (Preda, 2019) however it literally translates to “putting on stage”. From this research, I can confidently say that I know and understand the meaning of “mise-en-scéne” and understand that there are many elements to it in fact. These elements can include the composition of the shot, the production design, the lighting, costuming, hair and makeup, and the film’s texture.
  2. SHOT REVERSE SHOT: From my own knowledge, a shot-reverse-shot is a film technique to use best when you are wanting to show two characters having a conversation. To do this, one character is shown looking at another character (often off-screen), and then the other character is shown looking back at the first character. These are often done through over the shoulder shot and they can be dirty (where the other subjects shoulder is shown out of focus) and clean (no shoulder is shown). When these shots are edited together, it gives the audience a sense of continuous action.
  3. PAN/TRACK/ZOOM: A pan is often used to follow action such as a character moving from one spot to another. Panning means swiveling a video camera horizontally from a fixed position. Panning shots can also be used to establish locations, slowly revealing information about a place as we take it in. A tracking shot is any shot where the camera follows backward, forward or moves alongside the subject being recorded. The camera is then pushed along the track while the scene is being filmed or moved manually when using a handheld rig. A tracking shot is specifically meant to follow someone or something along as they move through the scene A zoom is taken with a lens that has a variable focal length, a zoom shot is one that permits the cinematographer to change the lens’ focal length – and thus the apparent size of the subject within the frame – without moving the camera.
  4. PSYCHOANALYSIS: A school of academic thought that evokes the concepts of psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. Since films had the ability to tell a story using techniques such as superimposition, and slow motion, the Surrealists saw this as mimicking dreams.
  5. STRUCTURE: Narrative structure is about story and plot: the content of a story and the form used to tell the story. Often, a three-act structure is the most common within storytelling – another is Freytag’s pyramid. Within feature films, a nine-act structure is a common way for writers. Dramatic structure is the structure of a dramatic work such as a play or film. Many scholars have analyzed dramatic structure, beginning with Aristotle in his Poetics.
  6. THE GAZE: The “gaze” is a term that describes how viewers engage with visual media. Originating in film theory and criticism in the 1970s, the gaze refers to how we look at visual representations. These include advertisements, television programs, and cinema. In feminist theory, the “male gaze” is the act of viewing women where they are represented as sexual objects for the pleasure of the male viewer
  7. AUDIENCE: The audience can be described as the people who are watching the film or who the film is targeting their film at and cater to that specific audience.
  8. REPRESENTATION: How films present gender, age, ethnicity, national and regional identity, social issues, etc. to an audience. Film has the power to shape the audience’s knowledge and understanding from how they are represented. 
  9. MONTAGE: Montage is a film editing technique in which a series of short shots are sequenced to condense space, time, and information. The term has been used in various contexts. In French the word “montage” applied to cinema simply denotes editing. Soviet montage theory is often referred to when discussing montage. I recently watched the new film “Parasite” and there is a fantastic 5 minute 60 shot montage which helps to carry the film along and develop the characters.
  10. MODERNIST FILM: Modernist drew attention to the processes and materials used in creating works of art. Modernist writers like Virginia Woolf deconstructed the very workings of language, rather than using language to describe the world. Modernist photographers explore the specific qualities of their medium – the frame, composition, light, image, and depth of field, moving away from the imitation of realistic painting. Modernism was a cultural movement that advocated for the rejection of the previous conventions. Along with this it also celebrates ideological and technical progress.
  11. AVANT-GARDE: Known as new and experimental ideas and methods in art, music, or literature.
  12. KINO-EYE: This is a film technique developed in post-revolutionary Russia by Dziga Vertov. It was also the name of the movement that was defined by this technique. Vertov’s means of capturing what he believed to be ‘inaccessible to the human eye’; that is, Kino-Eye films would not attempt to imitate how the human eye saw things. Rejects theatre rejects literature and captures things you wouldn’t otherwise see.
  13. NON-NARRATIVE: Terms such as “absolute film”, “cinéma pur”, “true cinema” and “integral cinema” have all been used to name specific approaches associated with specific avant-garde groups making non-narrative films that aimed to create a purer experience of the distinctive qualities of film – such as movement, rhythm and changing visual compositions. Not made for mass entertainment, non-narrative film is an aesthetic of film that does not narrate. It is usually a form of art film or experimental film.
  14. CINEMA PUR: An avant-garde film movement of French filmmakers, who “wanted to return the medium to its elemental origins” of “vision and movement.” It declared cinema to be its own independent art form that should not borrow from literature or stage. ”Pure Cinema” consisted of non-story, non-character films that conveyed abstract emotional experiences through unique cinematic devices such as camera movement and camera angles, close-ups, dolly shots, lens distortions, sound-visual relationships, split-screen imagery, super-impositions, time-lapse, slow motion, trick shots, stop-action, montage (the Kuleshov effect, flexible montage of time and space), rhythm through exact repetition or dynamic cutting and visual composition.
  15. SURREALIST FILM: Surrealism was an important avant-garde movement of the 1920s and 30s, which ran counter to many of the (subsequent) tenets of Modernism – in particular in its attempts to pictorially represent (dream states).
  16. ABSTRACT FILM: Non-narrative, contain no acting and do not attempt to reference reality or concrete subjects. They rely on the unique qualities of motion, rhythm, light and composition inherent in the technical medium of cinema to create emotional experiences.
  17. ANTI-NARRATIVE: A narrative (as of a play or novel) that deliberately avoids the typical conventions of the narrative, such as a coherent plot and resolution.
  18. DECONSTRUCTION: A method of critical analysis of philosophical and literary language which emphasizes the internal workings of language and conceptual systems, the relational quality of meaning, and the assumptions implicit in forms of expression.


Preda, C., 2019. Mise En Scène: The Key Elements. [online] Careers In Film | Film Schools & Colleges. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 April 2020].

Moura, G., 2011. Camera Moves. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 April 2020]. 2019. Psychoanalytic Film Theory. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 April 2020].

Siegel, D., 2018. The Nine-Act Structure Of Feature Films. [online] Medium. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 April 2020].

SAMPSON, R., 2015. Film Theory 101 – Laura Mulvey: The Male Gaze Theory | Film Inquiry. [online] Film Inquiry. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 April 2020].

Marcus, L., 2016. Cinema And Modernism. [online] The British Library. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 April 2020]. n.d. THE AVANT-GARDE | Meaning In The Cambridge English Dictionary. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 April 2020].

Encyclopedia Britannica. n.d. Dziga Vertov | Soviet Director. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 April 2020]. n.d. Non-Narrative Film. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 April 2020].

Experimental Cinema. n.d. Cinéma Pur | Experimental Cinema Wiki. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 17 April 2020].

Powerpoints provided by the Screen and Film School via Student Central