Bringing together twenty-five years of work on what he has called the "historical poetics of cinema," David Bordwell presents an extended analysis of a key question for film studies: how are films made, in particular historical contexts, in order to achieve certain effects? For Bordwell, films are made things, existing within historical contexts, and aim to create determinate effects. Beginning with this central thesis, Bordwell works out a full understanding of how films channel and recast cultural influences for their cinematic purposes. With more than five hundred film stills, Poetics of Cinema is a must-have for any student of cinema.

chapter |8 pages


part |73 pages

Questions of Theory

part |167 pages

Studies in Narrative

chapter |16 pages

Cognition and Comprehension

Viewing and Forgetting in Mildred Pierce

chapter |18 pages

Film Futures

part |179 pages

Studies in Style

chapter |10 pages


chapter |18 pages

Taking Things to Extremes

Hallucinations Courtesy of Robert Reinert

chapter |46 pages


The Modern Miracle You See Without Glasses

chapter |10 pages

Who Blinked First?

chapter |20 pages

A Cinema of Flourishes

Decorative Style in 1920s and 1930s Japanese Film

chapter |18 pages

Aesthetics in Action

Kung-Fu, Gunplay, and Cinematic Expression

chapter |18 pages

Richness Through Imperfection

King Hu and the Glimpse