auteur (ōtörˈ) [key], in film criticism, a director who so dominates the film-making process that it is appropriate to call the director the auteur, or author, of the motion picture. The auteur theory holds that the director is the primary person responsible for the creation of a motion picture and imbues it with his or her distinctive, recognizable style. Propounded most notably by the French director and film critic François Truffaut and the American film critic Andrew Sarris, it has been attacked by others, including Pauline Kael.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.