Joel David Coen and Ethan Jesse Coen, collectively known as the Coen brothers, began their foray into filmmaking in 1984 with their first movie Blood Simple. Throughout the following 27 years they have made another 14 films, ranging from dark comedies such as Fargo and Burn After Reading to their critically acclaimed No Country For Old Men, and, while their films showcase their expertise in several areas, can they truly be described as auteur? Francois Truffaut was a French critic, who wrote for Cahiers du Cinema, and his most notable article “Une Certain Tendance du Cinema Français,”, written in 1954, introduced the idea of the auteur director. Truffaut argued that “An auteur is primarily and exclusively a director. Mise-en-scene is the auteur stripped bare; ...... and this alone defines the auteur”. Truffaut believed that an auteur director injected his own personal creativity into their work, and created a style that could be easily attributed to them. Andrew Sarris, an American film critic further developed Auteur theory, citing three principles an auteur director should possess. These are that the director should have knowledge of the technicalities of filmmaking, have an individual style which resonates throughout their work and that their work contains interior meaning. One aspect that auteur theory concerns itself with is the amount of control a director has over a film. The Coen brothers direct, produce, write and edit (usually under the pseudonym Roderick Jaynes). Various nominations and awards are testimony to their expertise. They have been nominated no less than thirteen times for an Academy Award and have won on four occasions, for Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Picture. Although there are two directors, they are renowned for their compatibility with each other and have been referred to as “two sides of the same head”. The Coen brothers also maintain control over their films by producing storyboards and ‘sides’ for their crew so that...
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Baecque, Antoine de and Serge Toubiana, Truffaut: A Biography translated by Catherine Temerson, (New York, Knopf, 1999)
Dirks, Tim, Filmsite Movie Revue – Fargo (1996) - http://www.filmsite.org/fargo.html
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Conrad, Mark T, The Philosophy of The Coen Brothers, (Kentucky; The University Press of Kentucky, 2009)
Levine, Josh, The Coen brothers, two American filmmakers, (Canada, ECW Press, 2000)
Blood Simple, dir. Joel Coen (Circle Films, 1984)
Raising Arizona, dir
The Hudsucker Proxy, dir. Joel Coen (Warner Bros et al, 1994)
O Brother Where Art Thou, dir. Joel Coen (Touchstone Pictures et al, 2000)
The Ladykillers, dir
No Country for Old Men, dir. Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (Miramax Films et all, 2007)
Burn After Reading, dir
A Serious Man, dir. Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (Focus Features, 2009)
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