The Cinema of Attractions
Dublin City University
(at time of presentation)
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.
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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.