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Unbridling the Western Film Auteur

Contemporary, Transnational and Intertextual Explorations

Edited By Emma Hamilton and Alistair Rolls

According to Jim Kitses (1969), the Western originally offered American directors a rich canvas to express a singular authorial vision of the American past and its significance. The Western’s recognizable conventions and symbols, rich filmic heritage, and connections to pulp fiction created a widely spoken «language» for self-expression and supplemented each filmmaker’s power to express their vision of American society. This volume seeks to re-examine the significance of auteur theory for the Western by analysing the auteur director «unbridled» by traditional definitions or national contexts.

This book renders a complex portrait of the Western auteur by considering the genre in a transnational context. It proposes that narrow views of auteurism should be reconsidered in favour of broader definitions that see meaning created, both intentionally and unintentionally, by a director; by other artistic contributors, including actors and the audience; or through the intersection with other theoretical concepts such as re-allegorization. In so doing, it illuminates the Western as a vehicle for expressing complex ideas of national and transnational identity.


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9. Auteur is French for Author, too: Translating Other Afterthoughts Inspired by King Vidor’s Duel in the Sun into French Literature (Alistair Rolls / Emma Hamilton / Clara Sitbon)


Alistair Rolls, Emma Hamilton and Clara Sitbon 9 Auteur is French for Author, too: Translating Other Afterthoughts Inspired by King Vidor’s Duel in the Sun into French Literature Abstract In 1946, King Vidor’s Duel in the Sun saw a variously hybrid woman refuse to choose between two cowboys. Laura Mulvey’s famous reaction to this film would later become a seminal moment in film criticism, causing us to question the hegemony of the male gaze and the privileged, neutral position of (white) male spectatorship. Less well known is that Duel in the Sun was seen by French author Boris Vian sometime between its launch in the United States and its official screening in Paris in 1948. Vian’s own afterthoughts on the film have left their mark, in the form of his novel L’Automne à Pékin, or Autumn in Peking; they also, we argue, mark the reaction of a male spectator primed to reject the hegemonic viewing position of a French cinema-goer in a country dominated by American cultural products, including the cinema. Vian critiques the simple pleasures of American movies, and America at the movies, just as Mulvey would react to, and see in the film a reaction to, that other dominant cultural position. Vian, in short, saw in the film, and translated the film as, a French story. This is a story of the Western mapped onto France and of Paris mapped onto the Western. And above all, it is a story of critical spectatorship and the potential of the...

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