Fear and trembling, shuttering and stumbling

(I would’ve posted this earlier but for whatever reason the Daily Cardinal’s website wasn’t jiving with my computer this morning.) In today’s edition of the DC you’ll find my colleague Katie Foran-McHale’s review of Martin Scorsese’s latest, “Shutter Island.” Katie is quite right to point out how Scorsese’s work tends to invite the “auteur” label, yet it’s worth adding that, because Scorsese is as committed to the study and preservation of film history as any artist working in the medium today, he evokes that always-loaded label somewhat self-consciously, almost openly.

It’s no coincidence that Scorsese’s stylistic ancestors are figures like Jean Renoir, Michael Powell, Jacques Tourneur and Orson Welles; while he doesn’t necessarily mimic their signature techniques and preoccupations, he certainly emulates the authorial willfulness that first led viewers to infer that a film is made by somebody rather than a collective of somebodies.

But Scorsese also has the habit of working with actors who are nearly as if not more well-known than he is. That his films never lose their aura of having been envisioned and actualized by an individual genius is a testament to Scorsese’s adeptness at assuming the figure of the mainstream auteur, which is, of course, an increasingly endangered (and inherently illusory) species.

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