Auteurism, which was the dominant film theory beginning in the 1960s, had its origins a decade earlier with the French New Wave directors and expanded to those in other countries. The perspective was advanced by critics writing in the Cahiers du Cinéma journal. The theory was insightful in attributing to the director a role comparable to the author of a text, and in emphasizing the critical position of a singular, controlling force that included a vision or gaze.
Critics of this interpretation argue that it ignores other important figures who contribute to the film’s production, such as the writer and the onscreen presence of actors, especially famous stars. Perhaps more important, a re-evaluation of the function and practice of film, strongly influenced by postmodern literary theory, questions the stability of a singular understanding of any film, calling attention to the role of the audience. The rise of independent film, away from a studio system that privileged the director, has further eroded what is often called the “cult of the director.”