Realism, mise-en-scene and politics: assessing the applicability of the term auteur to Steve McQueen and his work to-date.
(2016) Realism, mise-en-scene and politics: assessing the applicability of the term auteur to Steve McQueen and his work to-date., no. 39.
Introduction: Steve McQueen is a director who first came to prominence in the 1990's through his critically acclaimed short films, winning the Turner Prize in 1999. McQueen moved on to feature length films with Hunger in 2008. Hunger detailed the 1981 Irish hunger strike, which was met with controversy over its political themes and graphic nature. Hunger went on to win the Caméra d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as going on to win other awards, including a BAFTA. McQueen's second feature, Shame (2011), follows the turbulent life of a sex addict. The film was praised as a 'powerful' film by several critics and went on to win several awards at the Venice Film Festival. McQueen's 3rd and most recent film has also been his most acclaimed. 12 Years A Slave (2013) is based on the memoir by Solomon Northup, of the same name, and details his kidnapping in Washington DC in 1841 and subsequently being sold into slavery. The movie received widespread acclaim with McQueen winning Best Director at the Academy Awards, becoming the first black director to win the award. Each of McQueen's films follows similar themes and tropes, as well as distinctive camera techniques that could be applied to auteur theory. However, despite McQueen's critical success, he is still in the early stages of his feature film career. Therefore, this dissertation will look at McQueen's current feature length work to see whether a distinctive style of directing is emerging within his films. There are several key aspects we will look at in relation to McQueen's work- auteur theory; mise-en-scene; realism and violence; politics.