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The definition of an auteur has been debated since the 1940s. André Bazin and
Roger Leenhardt presented the theory that it is the director that brings the film to life and uses the film to express their thoughts and feelings about the subject matter as well as a worldview as an auteur. An auteur can use lighting, camerawork, staging and editing to add to their vision.
François Truffaut's 1954 essay "Une certaine tendance du cinéma français" ("A certain tendency in French cinema"), he coined the phrase "la politique des Auteurs", asserting that the worst of
Jean Renoir's movies would always be more interesting than the best of the movies of
Jean Delannoy. "Politique" might very well be translated as "policy" or "program"; it involves a conscious decision to value and look at films in a certain way. One might see it as the policy of treating any director that uses a personal style or a unique worldview as an Auteur. Truffaut criticized the Cinema of Quality as "Scenarists' films", which are works that lack originality and rely on literary classics. According to Truffaut, this means that the director is only a metteur en scene, a "stager". This tradition suggests that the screenwriter hands the script to the director and the director simply adds the performers and pictures. Truffaut said: "[t]here are no good and bad movies, only good and bad directors".
Even before auteur theory became clearly defined, the director was considered to be the most important among the people working on a film. Early German film theorist
Walter Julius Bloem credited this to film being an art for the masses, and the masses being accustomed to regard someone who gives the final product (in this case, the director) as an artist, and those who contribute before (i.e. screenwriters) as apprentices.
Starting in the 1960s, some film critics began criticising auteur theory's focus on the authorial role of the director.
Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris feuded in the pages of
The New Yorker and various film magazines.
 One reason for the backlash is the collaborative aspect of shooting a film, and in the theory's privileging of the role of the director (whose name, at times, has become more important than the movie itself). In Kael's "
Raising Kane" (1971), an essay written on
Citizen Kane, she points out how the film made extensive use of the distinctive talents of co-writer
Herman J. Mankiewicz and cinematographer
Some screenwriters have publicly balked at the idea that directors are more authorial than screenwriters, while film historian
Aljean Harmetz, referring to the creative input of producers and studio executives in classical Hollywood, argues that the auteur theory "collapses against the reality of the studio system".
 In 2006,
David Kipen coined the term
Schreiber theory to refer to the theory of the screenwriter as the principal author of a film.
Georges Sadoul pointed out that the main author of a film is not necessarily the director, but can be main actor, screenwriter, producer, or even the author of the original story (in case of literary adaptations). Also, he argued that the film can only be seen as a work of collective and not as a work of a single person.
In law,copyright holder. Under
European Union law, the film director is considered the author or one of the authors of a film, largely as a result of the influence of auteur theory.
the film is treated as a work of art and the auteur, as the creator of the film, is the original