What is Film Theory? An Introduction to Contemporary Debates

By Nijs, Jac. de / Anefo. [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Gary Bettinson and Richard Rushton. McGraw-Hill: Open University Press, 2010.

What is Film Theory? outlines the discipline’s key theoretical concepts, perspectives, and traditions, and critically examines the assertions posited by exemplary film theorists and philosophers of film.

A step-by-step approach to these issues guides the reader through the central topics of film theory. Beginning with a discussion of structuralism and semiotics, and moving through debates on psychoanalysis, feminism, Screen theory, and cultural studies, the authors then examine the perspectives of ‘post-theory’, cognitivism, and historical poetics, as well as recent developments such as audience research and the ‘cinema of attractions’.

Analysis of the major theories is supported with detailed and wide-ranging case studies of particular films, including Singin’ in the Rain, The Searchers, Tout va bien, Jaws, Do the Right Thing, Brokeback Mountain, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. These case studies are accompanied by a series of illustrative film and production stills.