Auteur in Film – Disney and Pixar
132T | CCN: 77914
Instructor: Eileen Jones
Date / Time: MW 2-330P, 142 DWINELLE
As Paul Wells notes in Animation: Genre and Authorship, Walt Disney is the "key pioneering figure in the creation of the art, commerce and industry of animation." Part of Disney’s pioneering includes his challenge to the standard notions of the "auteur" in the field of film studies. Even his fiercest advocates, however, have struggled to name Disney’s mode of authorship… [Disney] operates as a useful case study… [in our efforts] to form a view of the ways in which "authorship" in animation might be evaluated.
As the professed inheritors of the Walt Disney tradition in animated feature filmmaking, Pixar has revived the issue of authorship in animation. It has sought with considerable success to inherent the mantle of Walt Disney’s commercial auteur persona through the constitution of an auteur persona updated for the digital animation era. This process has involved the seemingly paradoxical casting of the Pixar creative team as the collective "author" of the Pixar films while at the same time privileging and publicizing the figure of the director-as-author far more than Disney Studios ever did. Drawing on the work of such film animation scholars as Paul Wells, Maureen Furniss, and Chris Pallant, we will examine the creation of the distinctive Pixar aesthetic that mediates between the collective authorship of the Pixar creative team and the distinctive authorial identities of Pixar directors such as John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter.