Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library

Self-Projection: The Director’s Image in Art Cinema

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 248
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In 1957, a decade before Roland Barthes announced the death of the author, François Truffaut called for a new era in which films would "resemble the person who made" them and be "even more personal" than an autobiographical novel. More than five decades on, it seems that Barthes has won the argument when it comes to most film critics. The cinematic author, we are told, has been dead for a long time. Yet Linda Haverty Rugg contends not only that the art cinema auteur never died, but that the films of some of the most important auteurs are intensely, if complexly, related to the lives and self-images of their directors.Self-Projectionexplores how nondocumentary narrative art films create alternative forms of collaborative self-representation and selfhood.

    The book examines the work of celebrated directors who plant autobiographical traces in their films, including Truffaut, Bergman, Fellini, Tarkovsky, Herzog, Allen, Almodóvar, and von Trier. It is not simply that these directors, and many others like them, make autobiographical references or occasionally appear in their films, but that they tie their films to their life stories and communicate that link to their audiences. Projecting a new kind of selfhood, these directors encourage identifications between themselves and their work even as they disavow such connections. And because of the collaborative and technological nature of filmmaking, the director's self-projection involves actors, audience, and the machines and institution of the cinema as well.

    Lively and accessible,Self-Projectionsheds new light on the films of these iconic directors and on art cinema in general, ultimately showing how film can transform not only the autobiographical act but what it means to have a self.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4153-0
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Film Studies

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION Without a You, No I: Cinematic Self-Projection
    (pp. 1-34)

    Here is a moment many of my readers will recognize: The concluding image from François Truffaut’sLes 400 coups(The 400 Blows, 1959). “Freezing” within its frame, fixing the viewer with the young actor’s gaze, this image means to arrest; it arrests the young fugitive, the narrative, the viewer caught in the act of watching a film. For now, as we see the wordFinemblazoned across the boy’s face, it is time to get up and leave the theater. But the boy has stopped in his tracks and seems to regard us from that “other side,” the place where...

    (pp. 35-68)

    What happens, exactly, when the director enters his or her cinematic narrative as an actor? Elizabeth Bruss argues that when the cinematic author enters the frame of the film, we get the notion, in her words, that “‘no one is in charge,’ and we sense that a rootless, inhuman power of vision is wandering the world. At this juncture as at perhaps no other,” she writes, “all our traditional verbal humanism temporarily breaks down and we are forced to acknowledge that the cinematic subjectivity belongs, properly, to no one.”¹ Bruss’s argument seems exaggerated, perhaps even thoroughly dismissible (do we really...

    (pp. 69-98)

    The image is from 1957, taken on the set ofThe Seventh Seal.Director Ingmar Bergman, not quite thirty years old, is deeply engaged in a conversation with Death—that is, actor Bengt Ekerot, in white-face and cloaked in black. Bergman has already received adulation at Cannes forSmiles of a Summer Night(1955), and soon he will be championed as an auteur, an art-cinema author, one of the elect, in the pages ofCahiers du cinémaby a worshipful Jean-Luc Godard.¹ The director and actor on the set ofThe Seventh Sealsit as if unaware of the camera,...

    (pp. 99-140)

    When Ismael inFanny and Alexanderenters Alexander’s mind, he sees a vision: “You are thinking of a person’s death.” He stands behind Alexander, holding him close, and follows the outline of the vision in Alexander’s mind, narrating it to the boy as he sees it unfold: “A door flies open. No, first a scream, a hair-raising scream, goes through the house . . .” And on the soundtrack we hear the scream, and in a cross-cut we watch the door fly open. I revisit this moment fromFanny and Alexanderbecause it illustrates in such a complex way the...

    (pp. 141-174)

    The film camera, projector, and screen perform as prosthetic devices in auteurist self-projection, in a sense not unlike the actor as avatar. When they appear, they signal the viewer that an artist is present, since the apparatus indicates that the narrative is not “real” but made. At the same time, the presence of the machine in its various forms stands in, often, for an absent auteur, so that the apparatus replaces the human. Cinematic technology, as an extension of photographic technology, makes the absent present—the ghosts of the long-dead walk before us in the dark theater—even as it...

  9. CONCLUSION The Eye/I of the Auteur
    (pp. 175-182)

    Persona’s narrative, to the extent the film has a comprehensible story, deals with the difficulty of assembling and upholding a coherent personhood, or, to return to neurophilosophical terminology, a coherent self-model. Two women are placed in a kind of (metaphorical) isolation chamber in which one speaks and the other does not, in which the pressure on their relationship builds until it seems that one of them loses her anchor to her self-model, loses the ability to distinguish herself from the other. The confusion she experiences recalls the confusion of the subject in the rubber hand experiment who confuses his or...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 183-194)
    (pp. 195-202)
    (pp. 203-206)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 207-214)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 215-215)