January 10, 2012
Paul Thomas Anderson: An Auteur of Film
There are two types of directors in the world: those who write their movies and those who don’t. This doesn’t mean that one is a better director than the other, but it does however define if a director is truly an auteur of their film. Paul Thomas Anderson dropped out of film school after just 2 days. He went on to spend his savings and college money to produce his first short film Cigarettes & Coffee. It was a hit at Sundance Film Festival, and led to the funding of his first feature film. After establishing his career at a very young age, Anderson went on to create 3 cinematic masterpieces, each of whose scripts were original screenplays by him. These movies are: Boogie Nights, a humanistic insight on the porn industry, Magnolia, a day in the life of 11 individuals, and There Will Be Blood, a look into one man’s journey to wealth in the oil industry. Paul is known, however, for sticking to his guts and not following conventional film making techniques or storyline structures. He has even said, ““I'll rebel against powers and principalities, all the time. Always, I will.” Through a careful examination of his films, one can see that his films are defined by him and him alone. Whether it is through his careful pre-production script writing, or his attention to editing, Anderson has proven that his influence is crucial to his film’s artistic success. Portion of Magnolia’s script: Lots of attention to detail, especially in terms of shots and framing Portion of Magnolia’s script: Lots of attention to detail, especially in terms of shots and framing Paul Thomas Anderson is one of many writer-directors in Hollywood, but the level of detail he brings to his scripts separates him from many of his counterparts. It can clearly be seen how the script translates to the film through Anderson’s carefully explained details of framing and movements of shots, were as many films’ scripts do not provide this type of detail. Within of Anderson’s films, Boogie Nights and Magnolia, it can be seen that there are clear story telling aspects which are consistent. Within these two films is multi-layered narration due to the large ensemble cast. In Magnolia, there is no clear main character, but rather 11 equally important characters that are intertwined through a series of relationships to one another, whether it is father-to-son or employer-to-employee. In Boogie Nights, although there is a clear main character, we are still following the story through multiple viewpoints. One of the effects of these various characters, are frequent subplots. It is almost as if both of these movies are built on the subplots, which complement the themes of each movie. With Boogie Nights, there is the story of Roller Girl, a young woman trying to find her way through life in pornography and Buck, trying to escape the industry and lead a normal life. In Magnolia, each story is harmoniously told, whether it is of the sex-god Frank T.J. Mackey or the cocaine addict Claudia. Throughout Anderson’s films, it is clear that he sees the world in a humanistic way. He doesn’t just see a woman as a porn star, but as a mother desperately trying to win her kids back. He doesn’t think that Frank is an untouchable idol, but a really a man who is scared of losing the father he used to hate so much. One of the reasons that the patterns between these movies are so similar is because of the way Anderson keeps complete control of his film, which is usually seen through Frank from Magnolia: He stands before his many followers, as they cheer at his arrival. Frank from Magnolia: He stands before his many followers, as they cheer at his arrival.
the careful following of his scripts, never changing something because of a studio or out of fear of an audience’s reaction. Paul effectively tells stories with realistically flawed characters in uncommon circumstances. There are many motifs...