Beginning in 2009, The Museum of Modern Art offered a weekly series of film screenings titled An Auteurist History of Film. Inspired by Andrew Sarris’ seminal work The American Cinema, which developed on the idea of "auteur theory" first discussed by the critics of Cahiers du Cinéma in the 1950s, the series presented cinematic works from MoMA’s expansive collection with particular focus on the role of the director as artistic author. Featured works included those by D.W. Griffith, Fritz Lang, Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini, Satyajit Ray, Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer, Robert Altman, Werner Herzog, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese and many more. For the five years that the series was presented, film curator Charles Silver wrote a concise post to accompany each screening. These texts described the place of each film in the oeuvre of its director as well as its significance to wider film history. Following the end of the series’ long run, the Museum has collected these posts for publication, bringing together Silver’s insightful and often humorous readings of the series’ films into a single volume. This volume is an invaluable guide to key directors and works of cinema as well as an excellent introduction to auteur theory.
Charles Silver joined the Department of Film at The Museum of Modern Art in 1970, and has helmed the Film Study Center for the past four decades. Among his numerous exhibitions are retrospectives for Elia Kazan, Roman Polanski, John Ford, Charlie Chaplin, Joan Blondell, The Hubleys, Agnieszka Holland, Anna Mae Wong, John Wayne and Sessue Hayakawa. Thanks to his dedication to access and belief in film as the most influential art form of the 20th century, rare are the thesis papers or books written on cinema in the past 40 years that do not thank him for his expert guidance.
Charles Silver is a Curator in the Department of Film at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.