Paul Kelly

The Cinema of Attractions

Year: 2016

Keywords: n/a


Dublin City University
(at time of presentation)

Personal profile:

Paul Kelly is a Film and Television Studies graduate from Dublin City University. His research interests include Irish and international film, audience studies, transmedia storytelling and digital media.



See also:

Botting, F. and Wilson, S. 2001. The Tarantinian Ethics. London: Sage

Constable, C. 2013. Postmodern Cinema IN: Branigan, E. and Buckland, W. (eds.) The Routledge Encyclopedia of Film Theory. London: Routledge

Conrad, M. 1997. Symbolism, Meaning & Nihilism in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Philosophy Now [Online].

Elsaesser, T. 2009. Puzzle Plots IN: Buckland, Warren (ed.) (2009) Puzzle Films: Complex Storytelling. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell).

Gunning, T. 1992. Now You See It, Now You Don’t: The Temporality of The Cinema of Attractions. The Velvet Light Trap, Spring(32), pp. 41-50.

Gunning, T. 2006a. The Cinema of Attraction[s]: Early Film, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde IN: Straven W. (ed.) The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, pp. 381-388.

Gunning, T. 2006b. Attractions: How They Came into the World IN: Straven W. (ed.) The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, pp. 31-38.

Grant, C. and Keathley, C. 2014. Childhood cinephilia, object relations and videographic film studies [Online]. Available from:

Sconce, J. 2002. Irony, Nihilism and the New American ‘Smart Film’. Screen, 43(4), pp. 349-369.

Tomasovic, D. 2006. The Hollywood Cobweb: New Laws of Attraction IN: Straven W. (ed.) The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, pp. 309-319.


The cinema of attractions, as Tom Gunning (1993; 2006a; 2006b) argues, offers a different approach to cinema than that of conventional narrative film. It provides a different form of spectatorship, establishing direct contact with and acknowledging the audience, helping to rupture the diegetic, self-enclosed fictional world of the film. Its films supply the spectator with pleasure through “an exciting spectacle that is of interest in itself” (2006a: 384), as attention is focused on the acknowledged spectator rather than inward through the character centric events that are essential to classic narrative film. In this video essay, I wanted to attempt to demonstrate some of the ways in which this concept of “the cinema of attractions” has reemerged in contemporary cinema. In doing so, I examined a few key examples of contemporary films, each of which displays a range of different traits and attributes that tie them to the cinema of attractions.

But not only did I want to make this argument, I also wanted to contribute to it, by playing on the way in which the audiovisual essay can, to some degree, engage with the same characteristics associated with the cinema of attractions - most notably the direct address of the acknowledged spectator, and the focus on spectacular images and display. The result was an essay that aimed to be entertaining and amusing to watch as well as informative and explanatory - attempting to achieve the form of critical ‘writing’ proposed by Grant and Keathley (2014) that connects both inner and external experience through an engagement with the cinephilic experience.