Last night I stayed for the first five minutes of Mishima. And his narration in the film is taken from his writings. And he says it in the narration right at the beginning, “I have found a new form of expression” and 35 years later I’m writing First Reformed and the character says “I have found a new form of prayer”. I wasn’t aware of that connection. It hit me last night. I saw that on screen. I said, wow, I had already written that, you know, Jean Renoir once said, “Every director has one film to make. He just keeps remaking it.”
I agree with this idea up to a point, because I think it reflects a certain class of creator that is not necessarily universal. One of the notes about the auteur theory is that the great auteurs tend to have these sets of obsessions that they revisit endlessly, because all great artists do that.
Lately I've come to feel the reality is more like so: We've been trained to recognize obsessive cases who make powerful art as being the model for great artists. The competent craftsman who is not necessarily obsessed does not classify; only someone of transcendental mien will pass. And that transcendentalism tends to only be recognized when it fits a certain paradigm.
I get the impression this codswallop is no longer automatically accepted as true, both because it's being challenged and because people who aren't in the vein of the stereotypical auteur (especially if that stereotype is a white het guy) are stepping up and showing how else it can be done. It's a good start.
That said, I want to go back to the germ of truth I see in the above statement. I know that at the end of the day I find a lot of my work revolving around a bunch of the same things, and I know that each time I produce a new piece I see how those ideas are in there, if incarnated differently. But I also take all that as a warning. Having only those things is not healthy. The envelope must be pushed with whatever can be put into it.