This book represents the culmination of Thomas Elsaesser’s intense and passionate thinking about the Hollywood mind-game film from the previous two decades.

In order to answer what the mind-game film is, why they exist, and how they function, Elsaesser maps the industrial-institutional challenges and constraints facing Hollywood, and the broader philosophic horizon within which American cinema thrives today. He demonstrates how the ‘Persistence of Hollywood’ continues as it has adapted to include new twists and turns, as well as revisions of past concerns, as film moves through the 21st century. Through examples such as Minority Report, Mulholland Drive, Source Code, and Back to the Future, Elsaesser explores how mind-game films challenge us and play games with our perception of reality, creating skepticism and (self-) doubt. He also highlights the mind-game film's tendency to intervene in a complex fashion in the political moment by questioning the dominant power’s intent to program both body and mind alike.

Prescient and compelling, The Mind-Game Film will appeal to students, scholars, and enthusiasts of media studies, film studies, philosophy, and politics.

chapter |3 pages


Thomas Elsaesser and The Mind-Game Film
BySilvia Vega-Llona

chapter |7 pages

The Mind-Game Film

Provenance of a Concept
ByWarren Buckland

chapter |5 pages

“Minding Hollywood”

ByDana Polan

chapter |7 pages

Politicizing the Mind-Game Film

BySeung-hoon Jeong

chapter 1|49 pages

On Mind-Game Films as Tipping Points

The Challenges of Cinema in the New Century
ByThomas Elsaesser

chapter 2|17 pages

Too Late, Too Soon

Body, Time, and Agency
ByThomas Elsaesser

chapter 3|24 pages

The Mind-Game Film

ByThomas Elsaesser

chapter 4|33 pages

Time Travel Films

An Ethics of Redemption, Rescue, and Regret
ByThomas Elsaesser

chapter 6|19 pages

Saving Private Ryan

ByThomas Elsaesser

chapter 8|16 pages

Actions Have Consequences

Logics of the Mind-Game Film in David Lynch’s Los Angeles Trilogy
ByThomas Elsaesser

chapter 9|21 pages

Zero Dark Thirty

Genre Hybridization as (Parapractic) Interference
ByThomas Elsaesser

chapter 10|15 pages

Cinema and Games

Contingency as Our New Causality
ByThomas Elsaesser

chapter 11|37 pages

Contingency, Causality, Complexity

Distributed Agency in the Mind-Game Film
ByThomas Elsaesser

chapter 12|14 pages

The History of the Present as Paranoid Mind-Game

ByThomas Elsaesser