Paul Sutton

This chapter presents an account of the development of Olivier Assayas' career, before seeking to explore this idea of what one might call 'catastrophe cinema.' It deals with his distrust of the politique des auteurs, and in particular of the canon of classical Hollywood directors that it championed - he has criticised academic film studies for setting in stone classical Hollywood as the only period worthy of study, the result of an 'historic cinephilia', which has mummified and excluded certain filmmakers. As Fin août, début septembre and Irma Vep demonstrate, Assayas has a complex relationship with notions of authorship. He has allied himself to a particular perspective in both theoretical and practical terms yet he is acutely aware of the dangers of a theory that has been co-opted by academia. The 'catastrophic mode' adopted by Assayas' film might offer an alternative to the traditional critical strategy defended by Elizabeth Walden.

in Five directors