It’s an old standby that if a person is truly a master at one thing, he’s probably not great at much else. But when it comes to cinema, the auteur’s role is to be good at everything — sound, writing, camerawork, etc. — while also maintaining an overarching vision. So it isn’t surprising that there are so many great books written by cinema’s most famous (and infamous) auteurs. The staggering variety, though, is surprising, albeit with one exception: there are still few books published by cinema’s greatest women auteurs. (Why in the hell is Agnes Varda’s Varda only available in French?) Nevertheless, here is a list of the greatest books ever written by auteurs. And if your favorite director’s book isn’t on here, maybe it wasn’t very good?
Andrei Tarkovsky — Sculpting in Time
Arguably the master of the long take — and I do mean arguably — Tarkovsky’s book establishes rhythm and time as the dual hearts of the film image. This book is the manifesto of a certain form of cinema that became increasingly current throughout the 1970’s, 1980’s, and into the 1990’s, culminating, again arguably, with Bela Tarr’s The Turin Horse. It’s one of the great complaints against what would become the hyperactive editing style of Hollywood cinema.