Auteur Theory proclaims that a film should and does reflect the personal vision of its director (even unintentionally at times). "Auteur" is French for "author," and like the author of a novel has the largest responsibility for the plot, theme, word choice, and success or failure of the book, so the director has the largest responsibility for the film. Rather than really being a study of film, then, Auteur Theory is really a study of directors through their films. It is not, however, merely a study of technique or skill; it is more so the study of the attitudes (political, social, religious, artistic, etc.) of the director. It is especially useful as a predictive tool in that, once one knows a director's style well, one can usually predict what kinds of themes and content will appear in that director's future work. A film, according to this theory, cannot escape its creator; and the creator cannot escape the film. This theory, of course, is an attempt to understand the relationship between the filmmakers and the film.
Auteur Theory analyses are accomplished by studying as many works as possible from a given director and looking for consistencies or "through-lines" in the techniques, themes, and content of the works. Using those consistencies (and any obvious inconsistencies) as evidence in support of analysis, the writer offers up a critique of the director's techniques and skill, but more importantly, assumptions and theories about the director's personality, attitudes, and beliefs. An Auteur Theory analysis is difficult to complete in a classroom setting (especially in the course of a semester) as one would usually have to watch several films from the same director, and time is short. However, using directors' shorter works (short films, commercials, and music videos), students will be able to put the theory into practice with reasonable success.