Sarah Kozloff (Vassar College)
When Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault proclaimed the ‘death of the author’ nearly fifty years ago, they did so in the name of freedom. They could never have foreseen that its indiscriminate embrace by many film theorists would turn the anti-authorship stance into a restrictive orthodoxy. Sarah Kozloff daringly advocates a new paradigm, a theory of film authorship that takes into account flesh-and-blood filmmakers, including their biographies, their intentions and their collaborations. Building upon scholarship by Noël Carroll, Paisley Livingstone, Robert Carringer and Paul Sellors, Kozloff argues that we watch films in large part to feel a sense of communion with the people behind them. Writing with clarity and verve, Kozloff moves gracefully back and forth between film history and film theory. She offers an extended examination of The Red Kimona (1925) in order to demonstrate how knowledge about the people who created this intriguing early feminist movie can change a viewer’s interpretation. She also weaves in the voices of numerous filmmakers, revealing these artists’ thoughtful intentionality.