I am often struck, when reading academic discussions of cinema, especially by those more accustomed to dealing with authors and texts, of something that might be called the fallacy of the director as author. This involves treating the director of a film in the same way that one would treat the author of a text, to talk about them as if they are directly responsible for every single element in the film, every look, every line, every costume, every casting decision, every lighting effect. This is not to deny that the director is, of course, the key person in the film for which s/he is responsible. But a film is at the same time always a group project, in which dozens, sometimes hundreds, of people participate. The existence of "director's cuts" of certain famous films like Bladerunner remind us that sometimes a film does not end up the way the director envisaged.
It is a fallacy that is all the more easy to commit when one is dealing with a film like The Passion of the Christ (dir. Mel Gibson, 2004), where the director in question also financed, co-wrote and co-produced the film. But even here, it is worth remembering that Gibson is not responsible for every last element in the film. Having read almost every academic piece that has been published on The Passion of the Christ over the last three years, I am constantly amazed by how rarely Benedict Fitzgerald, who co-wrote the screenplay, is mentioned. Anyone who attended the AAR/SBL session where Fitzgerald was interviewed will have been struck by just how much he contributed to the screenplay. Indeed, he explained how he had written the initial screenplay, having been drafted in by Gibson, and how Gibson contributed revisions based on that original draft, which then went through successive versions.
Another Jesus film that is relevant is King of Kings (dir. Nicholas Ray, 1961), where the director is arguably less important than producer Samuel Bronston, who made a massive, arguably decisive contribution to this film. Indeed, accordingly Barnes Tatum calls this film "Samuel Bronston's King of Kings".
I suspect that academics used to writing about texts and authors find it much easier to conceptualize a film as if it is a single author work, but this often has a distorting effect on interpretation.
Update (Monday, 19:28): I am grateful for several useful comments. In the light of these, let me attempt to clarify my point. First, of course I am aware of auteur theory and I am not trying to say in this context that there are always and inevitably problems with conceptualizing a given director as auteur, looking for his or her distinctive style, and Gibson may be a good example of a director who has such a distinctive style that he might be treated as auteur. My point in this context, though, does not relate to that but relates rather to a specific fallacy that I think gets repeated in a lot of academic writing about film, especially where that writing is done by those who are more familiar with writing about authors of texts (using text here to mean single-authored written text). It is the fallacy, as I see it, of inadvertently discussing the director of a film as if s/he is the sole author of a single text. It can generate a failure to appreciate the extent to which a film is a collaborative effort, and can thus distort one's interpretation of it, not least by discouraging one to look at distinctive and sometimes major contributions from, for example, a casting director, a co-writer, a consultant, a cinematographer. For one thing, it can discourage one from doing research on individual members of a film crew's contributions, reading interviews and so on, in which key elements in the film might be explained.