Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that compares Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining with David Lynch’s Lost Highway to underline the darker side of auteur theory.
Deep down we all know that there’s something icky about auteur theory. But it can be a bit difficult to pinpoint what, exactly, that something is. Has any good come from idolizing individuals and their vision at the expense of others’ safety? Who wins and who loses when we consider a film’s director as its sole author? When collaboration and agency surrender to artistic impulse?
The video essay below does a brilliant job of lucidly articulating one of auteur theory’s more unsavory wrinkles: its ability to justify the prioritization of art over people, excusing willful poor behavior as part of their uncontainable genius.
The essay compares two movies, directed by two auteurs with very similar thematic concerns: Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining (1980) and David Lynch‘s Lost Highway (1997). Both films offer tense portraits of domestic violence perpetrated by frustrated, volatile men. And while both Kubrick and Lynch easily qualify for a vaulted cinematic status, the first-hand accounts from their closest collaborators suggest a stark — and informative — difference in their approach.
The essay focuses more heavily on The Shining, and any readers unfamiliar with — or fuzzy on the details — of the madness in Kubrick’s method will find a concise and fair retelling here. Those with flash sensitivities, be sure to note the flagged sections in the video’s description.
Watch “Myth of the Auteur: Stanley Kubrick vs. David Lynch”:
Who made this?
This video on Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, and the auteur theory is by Maggie Mae Fish, a Los Angeles-based comedian, actress, and culture critic who releases short films and video essays on her YouTube account. Fish has been featured on College Humor, Screen Junkies, and JASH. She was also a former lead actor and writer at Cracked.com. You can follow Fish on Twitter here.
More videos like this
- For another sample of Maggie Mae Fish’s excellent work, here’s her excellent video essay on RoboCop‘s ties to the transgressive world of exploitation cinema.
- Another long-form deep dive from Maggie Mae Fish, this time an analysis of Fight Club.
- Here’s Lindsay Ellis doing the dark lord’s work and applying auteur theory to the work of Michael Bay.
- What’s So Great About That?, a favorite video essay channel of this column, has an excellent breakdown of how David Lynch‘s films reveal the treachery of language.