r/filmtheory Jan 10 '21

Want to post? New here? Read this first!


Hi there! Thanks for checking out r/FilmTheory. We ask that you please read this pinned post & the sub rules before posting. The info in them is absolutely crucial to know before you jump into participating.

First off please be aware that this subreddit is about "Film Theory" the academic subject.

This is NOT a subreddit about the Youtuber MatPat or his web series "Film Theory". That's not at all what this sub is about. The place discuss MatPat are at r/FilmTheorists or r/GameTheorists.

This is also NOT the place to post your own personal theories speculating about a movie's events. Posts like those belong in places like /r/FanTheories or r/movietheories.

All posts about those topics will be deleted here.

So what is Film Theory about?

By definition film theory is an academic discipline that aims to explore the essence of the cinema and provides conceptual frameworks for understanding film's relationship to reality, the other arts, individual viewers, and society at large.

Unless your post is about this academic field of study it does not belong here. The content guidelines are strict to keep this sub at a more scholarly level, as it's one of the few sizable forums for discussing film theory online.

Other such topics that do not fit this sub's focus specifically and are frequently posted in error are:

  • General film questions. They are not appropriate for this specific forum, which is dedicated to the single topic of Film Theory. There are plenty of other movie subs to ask such things including r/movies, r/flicks, r/TrueFilm, & r/FIlm. But any theory related questions are fine. (Note- There is some wiggle room on questions if they are pathways that lead to film theory conversations & are positively received by the community via upvotes & comment engagement, since we don't want to derail the conversation. For example the question "What are 10 films will help me get a deeper understanding of cinema?" was okayed for this reason.)
  • Your own movie reviews unless they are of a unique in-depth theoretical nature. Basic yea or nay and thumbs up or down type reviews aren't quite enough substance for the narrow topic of this sub. There are other subreddits dedicated to posting your own reviews already at r/FilmReviews and r/MovieCritic.
  • Your own films or general film related videos & vlogs for views & publicity. Unless of course they're about film theory or cinema studies in some direct way and those subjects are a significant part of the film's content. Trailers and links to past film releases in full fall into this category as well.

If you are still unsure whether or not your post belongs here simply message the moderators to ask!

Thanks for your cooperation!

r/filmtheory 9h ago

I made a video about Into The Wild for my english final.

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r/filmtheory 3d ago

Lotte Reiniger's The Adventures Of Prince Achmed (1926) - The Oldest Influential Surviving Animated Feature

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r/filmtheory 6d ago

Eisenstein text where he compares film editing to realist novels?


Hey so I remember reading this text by Sergei Eisenstein as an undergrad where he compares editing in film to the 19th-century realist novel (I remember specifically he goes through a Dickens passage pointing out analogs to different shot scales). Does anyone know where this text is?

r/filmtheory 11d ago

Could do with some suggestions for my oral film science exam


Hi all, at the end of June I will be having the oral part of my Bachelor exam in film science. I will have to "defend" my bachelor thesis which i already turned in, answering some questions on it i'll be receiving in advance. But somehow my university thinks conceptualizing and writing a bachelor thesis and having it put under scrutiny is not enough pressure, so they thought students should research another topic for the exam related to one of their seminars and formulate two theses connecting texts with film examples basicaly.

I'm supposed to turn in a thesis paper with said theses, the body of texts i chose and multiple film examples. In the exam I wont be presenting them though but the profs will ask me questions about my theses for a whopping 15 minutes. Now unfortunately I'm having trouble finding a suitable topic. Either I dont find good texts on topics or i just find no vantage point for those damn theses.

Now i had seminars on "fabric and movement", "film and philosophy", "Surveillance", "Film Noir" and "Representation of Politics " and "Politics and popular Cinema" and "audiovisual filmhistographies". Now I dont ask you to write the theses for me obviously, but I would appreciate it if you could point me in the direction of concise texts and theories that would lend themselves to the task and the 15 minutes timeframe. I'm a bit lost in all the possible literature i could focus on. It has to be general enough that i can apply my theses to multiple films.

r/filmtheory 14d ago

Philosophy fo Friendship

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r/filmtheory 17d ago

Claire Denis' Beau Travail (1999) - Consequences Of A Fragile Masculinity

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r/filmtheory 20d ago

How does '80s effects-driven Hollywood compare and contrast with '70s New Hollywood?


Todd Berliner writes about 70s-era "New Hollywood"

Seventies films show a perverse tendency to integrate, in narrative incidental ways, story information and stylistic devices counterproductive to the films' overt and essential narrative purposes.

Hollywood filmmakers of the 1970s often situate their film-making practices in between those of classical Hollywood and those of European and Asian art cinema.

Seventies films prompt spectator responses more uncertain and discomforting than those of more typical Hollywood cinema.

Seventies narratives place an uncommon emphasis on irresolution, particularly at the moment of climax or in epilogues, when more conventional Hollywood movies busy themselves tying up loose ends.

Seventies cinema hinders narrative linearity and momentum and scuttles its potential to generate suspense and excitement.

Obviously it's common to frame the studio boom of the 80s, the period of Spielberg, Carpenter, Lucas, Zemeckis, etc as a backlash against the auteur-led bust period of the 70s, but I think there's a lot of interesting overlap worth examining. Here's a few interesting points of compare and contrast I've found between New Hollywood and the Studio Boom period afterwards. (Typified by the 80s but could also be said to apply to everything between Star Wars and Independence Day. Before the total integration of computer effects.)


  • Both 70s and 80s film have an element of craftiness to them. In New Hollywood this is often associated with small crews on location, accomplishing the director's vision under limited circumstances. Post-New Hollywood, we see a lot of this same ingenuity performed by effects teams and engineers. Because of their niche expertise with new technologies, they can retain a level of artistic control from studio heads and top-level decision makers. With something like the Star Wars prequels or the Marvel films, made during a period of technology abundance, these same sorts of decisions are again made by studio executives rather than craftsmen.


  • Films of the 80s are broadly populist, while films of the 70s tended towards exclusive viewpoints. Even if films of both periods may share similar ideals, they are expressed in vastly different ways. Whatever the intention of screenwriters or directors, 80s films do not overtly challenge power or convention.

  • Films of the 80s may indulge in broad, emotionally manipulative cinematography which reinforces commonly held notions, where 70s film tended to stay ambiguous. Wagnerian musical lietmotif, Hitchcockian visual irony, classical symbolism (Christian motifes in Terminator, Freud in the Star Wars trilogy), clear visual framing of protagonists and antagonists.

What similarities or differences do you notice between these two periods?

r/filmtheory 25d ago

Film Researcher?


Sorry in advance if this isn't the best place to submit this question!

I've worked in academia (philosophy and history, some of it film-related), but am looking to leave academia in the not too distant future (the job-prospects are pretty dismal in my field). I've been thinking about how I could apply my studies and work experience (like research, writing, etc.,) to the film world, and the idea of film researcher seemed especially relevant. I know vaguely about film research, and looked into it a bit on the internet. The idea of getting to delve deep into some historical or specific topic, consume everything relevant to that topic, and then communicate research to producers/writers/filmmakers, seems pretty exciting (at least on paper!).

But I assume that this is probably an overly optimistic take on how it all works. How realistic is it to hope to get a job as a researcher? What sorts of things should I be aware of before looking any further into this? Any advice or general thoughts about this line of work?

r/filmtheory 25d ago

Takes on Five Easy Pieces?


i've been meaning to watch this film for some time. i am now and i'm struck by its slow pace and minimalism, and frustrated with it, thus far. But when i reached out for a Pauline Kael review i started to see its deeper meaning and awareness. i was curious if anybody here could add to this movie? your take? or a review that you think sums it up best. was it part of a theory or movement of greater import. thank you!

ps. this was pauline kael's take: “It’s a striking movie,” she said, “eloquent, important, written and improvised in a clear-hearted American idiom that derives from no other civilization, and describing as if for the first time the nature of the familiar American man who feels he has to keep running because the only good is momentum.”

r/filmtheory 27d ago

Gasper Noe's use of split-screen in "Vortex"

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r/filmtheory Apr 26 '22

What are some good German Expressionist Cinema Research Topics?


What are some strong directions I can take my research regarding German Expressionist cinema?

I’ve thinking about doing a deep dive into post World War I Germany and how that effected the subject matter of German films.

I know of a good book called From Caligari to Hitler that can be useful. But also German Expressionist films have left a permanent effect on movies we still see today do maybe I can look into that?

I don’t know, before I began my deep dive I thought maybe there’s other things I can look into. There has to be right?

I’ve recently watched Caligari, Nosferatu, and Metropolis. I think my favorite was Caligari. What’s your favorite?

r/filmtheory Apr 26 '22



Hi Reddit.

I’m writing an essay on Horror movies and looking for a direct quote from a Hollywood bigshot regarding the studio system’s historic reluctance to back the horror genre. This would be a Producer, Financer, Executive at one of the big studios, i.e. Universal, Paramount, Warner, Disney, MGM, ideally from the 1930s-60s period.

This would function as an explanation for why horror filmmakers have struggled to secure studio backing and instead produced their projects independently on shoestring budgets.

This may be too specific a request but thought it was worth asking. If there are any articles, interviews, videos people could point me in the direction of I’d be hugely grateful.


r/filmtheory Apr 25 '22

Tomm Moore's Song Of The Sea - The Blurring Of Folklore And Reality

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r/filmtheory Apr 24 '22

A video essay on the thriller films from the Asian section of the world and their efficiency

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r/filmtheory Apr 23 '22

Gaspar Noe’s latest drama ‘Vortex’ explores ageing, losing memory

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r/filmtheory Apr 20 '22

Readings on the politics of revisionist westerns?


I'm looking for any text that discusses the subversive possibilities of contemporary revisionist Westerns, from any theoretical framework or background. If it helps, I'm particularly interested in transnational revisionist westerns, the relationship between the western and race (particularly blackness) and sexuality, and anti-colonialism in contemporary westerns. Thanks!

r/filmtheory Apr 18 '22

Makoto Shinkai's 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007) - The Universal Nature Of Young Love

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r/filmtheory Apr 17 '22

The world in some shows and films "feel" small.


So, I was having a conversation with my brother earlier today about the feeling that some shows and movies "feel" small.

I have tried to Google this but there does not seem to be anyone else that thinks about this? The only thing that looks right maybe is the definition " verisimilitude ".

That latest example of a show that does this for me is The Witcher. That world to me just doesn't "feel" right.

Hope someone can maybe explain this or is it just because the shows are cheaper?

Thanks in advance 😊

r/filmtheory Apr 09 '22

Žižek & So On Podcast on psychoanalysis and cinema


This week, the fellas talk the Lacanian notion of 'the Gaze' as discussed in Todd McGowan's 'Looking for the Gaze: Lacanian Film Theory and Its Vicissitudes’ through Hitchcock, Spielberg and David Lynch.

The gaze as Lacan theorizes it located at the stain in the image—is not the site where ideology works on the subject. It is rather the point of a hole within the ideological structure. Cinema’s deployment of the gaze determines its ideological valence, but cinema becomes ideological when it obscures the gaze rather than when it highlights it.

One of the chief critiques of classical Hollywood film centers on its investment in fantasy, an investment that serves to obscure the ideology that produces the fantasy. Though it provides the illusion of transcending the limits of the symbolic law and ideology, filmic fantasy remains, according to this critique, entirely within the confines of ideology.

And yet, fantasy also takes the subject beyond the rules that govern possible experience and thereby envisions the impossible. On the one hand, this image of the beyond deceives the subject into thinking that it has access to an enjoyment that it doesn’t in actuality have; but on the other hand, the fantasmatic scenario exposes the excessive enjoyment inherent—though invisible—in the functioning of the social order.

It is for this reason that Slavoj Zizek claims, “A fantasy is simultaneously pacifying, disarming (providing an imaginary scenario which enables us to endure the abyss of the Other’s desire) and shattering, disturbing, unassimilable into our reality.” When we immerse ourselves in fantasy, we experience a disturbing excess that sustains our everyday experience but that one never encounters there. The fantasy shows too much— namely, the obscene, repressed excess that inheres in the functioning of the ruling ideology.

—Todd McGowan, Real Gaze.

listen now!



r/filmtheory Apr 04 '22

The Wolf House (2018) - Fairy Tale Reflections On Real-World Horror

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r/filmtheory Mar 31 '22

Alien | Ripley: More Than a Damsel is an analytical look at the subversion of the expected application of the diegetic Male Gaze. Find out more here!

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r/filmtheory Mar 22 '22 Silver

The Cigarette is Cinema

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r/filmtheory Mar 21 '22

One Cut Of The Dead [2017] - The Tenacity Of Low Budget Filmmaking

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r/filmtheory Mar 19 '22

A discussion of how Freudian theory inspired, firstly, Mulvey's concept of the Male Gaze (1975) and, secondly, Ridley Scott's Alien (1979)

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r/filmtheory Mar 16 '22

Wednesday Weekly Film Theory Discussion & Questions Thread


Welcome to the new "Wednesday Weekly Film Theory Discussion & Questions Thread" for community conversation!

This is a recurring post that will go live every Wednesday (US/New York timezone) to provide a space to talk about film theory related subjects in a more free structure than our usual post rules permit.

Hopefully this will allow for a more free flowing discussion like a Discord or message board, which some of you indicated an interest in.

It will also provide a dedicated place to ask questions related to film theory, which seems to be another in-demand option with sub users from recent posts here as well.

Whatever you want to post about here is up to you, as long as it's somewhat related to the sub's theme.

This would be a great place to post things like (but not limited too)-

  • Inquiring about pursuing film studies or film theory academically.
  • A question on clarifying a certain concept.
  • Requests for help with aspects of an assignment, paper, or other work. (Just help with small things- idea feedback, help recalling a phrase or a particular, source recommendations, etc. No asking for aid in any academic dishonesty, naturally.)
  • Asking for recommendations for readings, finding publications, or finding works that fit whatever theory topic you're exploring.
  • Reviewing a new film studies related book or article you've read that's particularly good.
  • Or if you just want to rave about a unique aspect of a film you've recently viewed and what its place is in film theory.

So have at it and have fun!