Understanding the popular theories of film studies

theories of film studies

Cinemas and films are a form of contemporary art, which was not conceived until the end of the mid-19th century. It is a modern scientific and technological invention, that has fast become a modern social practice.


Film theory is defined as the set of scholarly approaches within the academic discipline film or cinema studies that questions the essentialism and realism of the film and sets a proper framework to understand it’s relativity to other forms of arts, society, and individual viewers. We discuss a few of the film theories that are used to understand and analyze films for academic clarity and understanding. Some of the notable film theorists and some of the people who made a major impact on film studies are, Henri Bergson, Germaine Dulac, and LoiusDellucto name a few.


Linguistic film theory

This theory by definition studies the aesthetics of film by investigating the concepts and practices that comprise the experience and interpretation of movies. To elaborate on this, Stanley Cavell, who proposed this theory. This shows a distinctive approach to film and philosophy questioning the style.


The predominant factor in understanding the meaning of the film is to find adequate words for our aesthetic experience. A popular saying by Covell was "If one thinks of grammar as a machine for generating sentences, then perhaps one will wish to speak of the camera and its film as a machine for generating idioms.” This is where most film theories originated from.


Literary theory

Literary theory is another main theory in film studies and the in a conservative sense is the systematic study of the nature and analyzation of methods of literature. In a broader sense of the term, it may include moral philosophy, social prophecy, intellectual history and other interdisciplinary themes that are used and are relevant to the way meanings are interpreted by humans. Literary theory is thought to be a branch of critical theory, and also has a strong base for film theory.


Films, when they first started were seen as a democratic medium, laying foundations for emerging as a societal culture. In the past century, movies and films have been popularized as leisure activities, and the industry plays a pivotal role in the economic and social wellbeing of the populations.


Understanding the relation of film theory to the actual viewing of the movie is difficult initially. Over timetheories of film studies, critical analyzation will lead to a clearer understanding of the extensive and ambiguous concepts that are applied in film studies. 

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Nov 06, 2019

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