An examination of the filmmaking methods of Kenneth Branagh in his directorial film work on Thor, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and Cinderella with specific reference to his status as auteur
This thesis examines the methods that director Sir Kenneth Branagh employs in his approach to directing his films and questions whether the consistency of methods adopted by Branagh across the scope of his films and their recurring themes support the status of Branagh as an auteur. Much scholarly attention has been given to Branagh’s Shakespeare films, yet there is a deficit of such attention to his later work. Using personal and published interviews, empirical evidence of the films, and text-to-text analysis, the thesis focuses upon analysis of his later films Thor, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and Cinderella. The thesis takes an approach based upon the criteria of Sarris (2008) and Leitch (2008) to determine whether Branagh could be classified as auteur based upon his directorial oeuvre. In doing so, the thesis identifies the key components of Branagh’s methods and style and investigates his rehearsal techniques, research into the history and intertextuality of his projects, relationships with actors, and whether he uses elements of mise-en-scène as cues to reveal intertextuality. The thesis discusses Branagh’s role in semiotic coding in his films, informed by the concept of selective perception, wherein viewers tend to recognise elements in media which align with their expectations (Klapper 1960). It argues that memory of the hypotexts plays a key role in film adaptations (Ellis 1982), that their ability to evoke recall is a means of communication (Grant 2002) which can be achieved through the use of elements of mise-en-scène, (Geraghty 2008) and that the viewer and director are collaborators in producing meaning in film (Wollen 1972). This study contributes to the field of adaptation by adding scholarly literature on the films of Branagh in his post-Shakespeare era and to the subjects of auteurship and audience recall achieved through use of camera technique, intertextuality and mise-en-scène.