Details. article: Circles and Squares; author(s): Pauline Kael; journal: Film Quarterly (01/Apr/); issue: volume 16, issue 3, pages ; DOI. Circles and Squares. Pauline Kael. FILM QUART, Vol. 16 No. 3, Spring, ; ( pp. ) DOI: / Pauline Kael. Find this author on Google. A rejection of Sarris’ auteur theory Learn with flashcards, games, and more — for free.

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The smell of a skunk is more distinguishable than the perfume of a rose; does that make it better? This is not so far from the way the auteur critics work, either.

Kael sums up her criticism by wondering why the auteur theory prefers certain commerical films — a saving grace of the auteur theory some will say.

This is obvious in listening to music, seeing plays, reading novels, watching actors; we take it for granted that this is how we perceive the development or the decline of an artist. The article is professionally written and I feel like the author knows the subject very well. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here The smell of a skunk is more distinguishable than the perfume of a rose; does that make it better?. Oxford University Press,pp. South Yorkshire England View all posts by A.

Notify me of new comments via email. It takes extraordinary intelligence and discrimination and taste to use any theory in the arts, and that without those qualitites, a theory becomes a rigid formula which is indeed what is happening among auteur critics.

They want a simple answer, a formula; if they approached a chef they lael probably ask for the one magic recipe that could be followed in all cooking.

An artist who is not a good technician can indeed create new standards, because standards of technical competence are based on comparisons with work already done.

Really like the post, this has been a lot of help with my dissertation thank you. The art of the critic is to transmit his knowledge of and enthusiasm for art to others. I read your posts for quite a long time and should tell you that your articles are always valuable to readers.


Traditionally, in any art, the personalities of all those involved in a production have been a factor in judgement, but ssquares the distinguishability of personality should in itself be a criterion of value completely confuses normal judgement.

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A Couple of Squared Circles, Sarris and Kael – Part II

To Kael, Sarris concentrates on what is established, unoriginal in a work and ignores new ideas, one-offs and innovations. And it is very difficult to explain to such people that criticism is exciting just because there is no formula to apply, just because you must use everything you are and everything you know that is relevant, and that film criticism is particularly exciting just because of the multiplicity of elements in film art. According to Kael if a director does not unify his style, the form, with the content of the script, then the director does not produce good art.

Introductory Readings2nd Edition, Oxford: The greatness of critics like Bazin in France and Agee squraes America may have something to do with their using their full range of intelligence and intuition, rather than relying on kale.

And for some inexplicable reason, Sarris concludes that he would not have had this joy of discovery without the auteur pwuline.

Sarris has noticed that in High Sierra not a very good movie Raoul Walsh repeated an uninteresting and obvious device that he had earlier used in a worse movie. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email.

Kael goes on to add:. Kael goes on to add: There must be another circle that Sarris forget to get to – the one where the secrets are kept. Kael is asserting that the auteur theory venerates directors who repeat uninteresting and obvious devices. He is a good critic if he helps people understand more about the work than they could puline for themselves; he is a great critic, if by his understanding and feeling for the work, by his passion, vircles can excite people so that they want to experience more of the art that is there, waiting to be seized.

Film aesthetics as a distinct, specialized field is a bad joke. Post was not sent – check your email addresses! The auteur critic, according to Kael, prefers products made out of inferior products: But how does this distinguishable personality function as a criterion for judging the works?


He is a bad critic if he does not awaken the curiosity, enlarge the interests and understanding of his audience. Often the works in which we are most aware of the personality of the director are his worst films – when he falls back on the devices he has already done to death. And he is expendable if categories replace experience; a critic with a single theory is like a gardener who uses a lawn mower on everything that grows.

As Kael notes artists have always re-used older material. He is not necessarily a bad critic if he makes errors in judgment.

Keeping My Brain Alive: Circles and Squares (excerpts)

I will indicate where I feel both critics have got things right and got things wrong. Jan Feb Mar Apr. In essence Kael is arguing that the distinguishable personality of a director is a poor choice for criterion of judgement. The Inner Circle The third and ultimate premise of the auteur theory is concerned with interior meaning, the ultimate glory of the cinema as an art.

These critics work embarrassingly hard trying to give some semblance of intellectual respectability to a preoccupation with mindless, repetitious commercial products. To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: What Kael seems to be asking is whether this is really a good criterion for the critique of film.

This site uses cookies. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Those, like Sarris, who ask for objective standards seem to want a theory of criticism which makes the critic unnecessary.

Kal are commenting using your WordPress. Kael, in characteristically sardonic and bitchy style, explains that: And the greatness of a director like Cocteau has nothing to do with mere technical competence: