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Peter Wollen 29 June — 17 December was a film theorist and filmmaker. He studied English at Christ Church, Oxford. Both political journalist and film theorist, Wollen's Signs and Meaning in the Cinema helped to transform the discipline of film studies by incorporating the methodology of structuralism and semiotics. In , Wollen graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in English literature. In , Wollen married noted film theorist and his partner in filmmaking, Laura Mulvey.
They divorced in and soon afterward he wed writer and artist, Leslie Dick. He had a son from his first marriage and a daughter from his second. Wollen died of Alzheimer's disease on December 17, , from which he had suffered for many years. Wollen joined the British Film Institute 's education department in the late s, at the behest of its director, Paddy Whannel , who had been impressed by his work.
Wollen explained, "One of the basic goals of the education department was to support anyone who wanted to teach film in schools or universities. And one way to support them was by publishing books which they could use in class. Signs and Meaning in the Cinema' s initial publication in was followed by a revised edition, with a new appendix, just three years later.
It quickly gained traction in the burgeoning film-studies world of the s. In , Robin Wood contended, "Peter Wollen's Signs and Meaning in the Cinema is probably the most influential book on film in English of the past decade. The revised and enlarged edition of is the most concise, lucid and inspiring introduction to thinking about film ever written. Wollen's first film credit was as cowriter of Michelangelo Antonioni 's The Passenger Professione: Reporter , Italy, , and he made his debut as a director with Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons , the first of six films cowritten and co-directed with his wife, Laura Mulvey.
The low-budget Penthesilea portrayed women's language and mythology as silenced by patriarchal structures. Acknowledging the influence of Jean-Luc Godard 's Le Gai savoir France, , Wollen intended the film to fuse avant-garde and radically political elements.
The resulting work is innovative in the context of British cinema history, although its relentlessly didactic approach did not make for mass appeal. For Riddles of the Sphinx , Wollen and Mulvey obtained a BFI Production Board grant, which enabled them to work with greater technical resources, rewriting the Oedipal myth from a female standpoint.
The deliberately ahistorical AMY! In Crystal Gazing formal experimentation is muted and narrative concerns emphasised. Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti , a short film tied to an international art exhibition curated by Wollen, and The Bad Sister , a drama based on a novel by Emma Tennant , were the final projects on which Wollen and Mulvey collaborated.
Wollen's only solo feature, Friendship's Death , starring Bill Paterson and Tilda Swinton , is the story of the relationship between a British war correspondent and a female extraterrestrial robot on a peace mission to Earth, who, missing her intended destination of MIT , inadvertently lands in Amman, Jordan during the events of Black September From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
British film theorist and filmmaker. Haslemere , Surrey , UK. Laura Mulvey m. Leslie Dick m. British Film Institute. Retrieved 23 December The New York Times. Retrieved 27 December The Guardian.
Retrieved 9 January The Hollywood Reporter. It's anthologized in Caughie, John, ed. Theories of Authorship: A Reader. Signs and Meaning in the Cinema. London: British Film Institute. Retrieved 15 February Personal Views. London: Gordon Fraser. Also quoted in Theories of Authorship: A Reader.
Peter Wollen 29 June — 17 December was a film theorist and filmmaker. He studied English at Christ Church, Oxford. Both political journalist and film theorist, Wollen's Signs and Meaning in the Cinema helped to transform the discipline of film studies by incorporating the methodology of structuralism and semiotics. In , Wollen graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in English literature. In , Wollen married noted film theorist and his partner in filmmaking, Laura Mulvey. They divorced in and soon afterward he wed writer and artist, Leslie Dick.
Auteur Theory and Authorship
The auteur theory sprang from the interest that French critics in the fifties had in forgotten or underrated Hollywood films. The auteur was perceived as an individual who clearly left the mark of his personality upon the film process. Traditionally, the model of an author in the cinema was that of the European director with an open artistic aspiration and full control over film. However, as Peter Wollen points out, the careers of these acclaimed European directors could often stagnate or even be reduced to total anonymity as they crossed the Atlantic to continue making films in Hollywood. The focus of auteur theorists was not so much the historical context of the film, but its context within the total body of the director's work.