Romantic Comedy

Romantic comedy in its most general meaning includes all films that treat love, courtship, and marriage comically. Comic in this context refers more to the mood of the film and less to its plot.

Russia and Soviet Union

The often problematical concept of national cinema takes on particular complications in the case of Russian and Soviet cinema. The first century of cinema encompassed intervals of Russian history from the late imperial period (1895–1917), through the era of the Soviet Union (1917–1991), to the emergence of the post-Soviet Russian Republic and the other newly independent states (from 1992).

Science Fiction

Believing that films were strictly for entertainment, Golden Age film producer Sam Goldywn is reputed to have said, "If you want to send a message, use Western Union." Notwithstanding a handful of so-called social problem films, Hollywood films do tend more toward the innocuous than the politically confrontational. Science fiction films, though, are often notable for their idea-driven narratives; social commentary, although not always profound, is a frequent element of sci-fi.


Screenwriting involves all writing "for the screen." Given the history of the screen, such a category covers both fiction and documentary films since the early 1900s in the United States and throughout the world as well as work for television, video, and, in recent years, the Internet. In the beginning of film, there were no screenplays.

Screwball Comedy

In the mid-1930s a new film genre, screwball comedy, arose in American cinema. Based upon the old "boy-meets-girl" formula turned topsy-turvy, it generally presented the eccentric, female-dominated courtship of an upper-class couple.


The terms "semiology" and "semiotics" are frequently used interchangeably by academics and film theorists. Broadly speaking, both terms refer to the study of signs and language systems, though the term semiology owes its provenance to the work of Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913) and semiotics to the American philosopher Charles Peirce (1839–1914).

Sequels, Series, and Remakes

Sequels, series, serials, and remakes are evidence of the commercial imperatives governing most forms of cinema. Producers, directors, and writers have often been under pressure to recycle popular formats, formulas, and themes as a way to minimize risk and ensure profitability.


In the broadest sense, sexuality refers to sexual behavior. While closely tied to biological urges that seem to impel human beings (and other animals) to mate, there are many socially constructed concepts that influence an understanding of sexuality.


A shot is often defined as the basic building block of cinema because filmmakers work by creating a film shot by shot, and then, during editing, they join these shots in sequence to compose the overall film. From this standpoint, a shot corresponds to the length of film that is exposed during production as it is run through the camera from the time the camera is turned on until it is turned off.

Silent Cinema

By 1915 cinema seemed poised to enter a new phase of its development: with bigger-budgeted multireel films, popular and widely publicized stars, new modes of production and distribution, picture palaces, and aspirations of artistry all vying to define the medium in different ways, that sense of potential was more than met in the fifteen years that followed. What no one could have predicted was that the end of the 1920s would mark not only the completion of cinema's third full decade of existence, but also the end of a particular form of cinematic expression ushered in with the advent of features.

Slapstick Comedy

Slapstick is both a genre in its own right, belonging mostly to the years of silent cinema, and an element in other comedies that has persisted from the early years of film till now, when it seems to be as an indispensable element of the teen or "gross-out" comedy typified by such films as the American Pie trilogy (1999, 2001, 2003) and movies directed by the Farrelly Brothers, such as There's Something About Mary (1998) and Stuck on You (2003).


Cinema is classically described as a visual medium. But turn off the audio as you watch a movie, and you will grasp the centrality of sound—speech, sound effects (all nonvocal noises), and music—to the telling of stories on film.


Spanish cinema reflects many of the tensions that have shaped the development of the Spanish nation over the twentieth century. One pivotal conflict, that between traditionalism and cultural modernization, is mirrored in the efforts to define film both as a cultural product that reflects the values and customs of the community that produced it, and as a commodity that circulates beyond the local community to international markets.

Special Effects

Special effects in cinema can be divided into physical and optical effects (in the industry often referred to as "effects" and "special effects," respectively), the former done in front of the camera, the latter after the negative has been exposed. Unfortunately, this neat distinction breaks down over some optical effects that are produced by double exposures of the film strip or rear projection during shooting, and increasingly in the use of physical ("practical") elements as resources in digital postproduction.

Spectatorship and Audiences

The film audience remains a central area of interest for both film studies and film industry professionals alike. Understanding how and why films connect with certain film viewers and not others can reveal a great deal about how film functions both as an art form and as entertainment.

Sports Films

Since the start of the motion picture industry in the United States, sports have been a frequent subject for the movies. Hollywood has produced hundreds of films about sports for the same reason that synergistic ties have been established between American movies and other cultural forms, including theater, literature, fashion, television, advertising, and toys.

Spy Films

The spy is the most contradictory hero in cinema. Although money and sex have motivated many spies in real life and fiction, the essential motivating force behind espionage is devotion to a cause, usually a nation, that is best expressed by concealing it.

Star System

To speak of stardom as a system is paradoxical. Film stardom promotes the individuality and uniqueness of certain film performers, yet the term "system" suggests regularity, repetition, and similarity.


Film stardom is a phenomenon formed between the industry that produces films, the actual content of films, and the ways in which moviegoers form their relationships with films. To a large extent, the popularity of cinema results from the production, distribution, presentation, and consumption of film stars.

Structuralism and Poststructuralism

Structuralism and poststructuralism are theoretical attitudes arising out of film studies' "linguistic turn"—the attempt to reconceptualize cinema using language as an explanatory paradigm—in the 1960s and 1970s. At this time, the discipline was just beginning to attain footing as a serious field of scholarly inquiry and become an established presence as an academic department at universities.

Studio System

Since the advent of commercial cinema over a century ago, the costs and complexity of filmmaking have encouraged producers to develop a factory-oriented approach to production. The benefits of such an approach include the centralization of both production and management; the division and detailed subdivision of labor; a standardized mode of production, film style, and type of product; cost efficiencies derived from economies of scale; consistent production values; and the cultivation of a brand name in the movie marketplace.

Supporting Actors

The category of supporting actor includes all actors who play secondary, supporting roles in films. These roles can be played by actors who also appear in leading roles in other films, or by character actors.


Surrealism was an avant-garde art movement in Paris from 1924 to 1941, consisting of a small group of writers, artists, and filmmakers, including André Breton (1896–1966), Salvador Dali (1904–1989), and Luis Buñuel (1900–1983). The movement used shocking, irrational, or absurd imagery and Freudian dream symbolism to challenge the traditional function of art to represent reality.


Moving pictures first attracted large Swedish audiences at the Stockholm exhibition in 1897. Though early silent films were generally only a few minutes long and often documented actual events, the erstwhile novelty rapidly established itself as popular entertainment during the next decade or so.


Ever since the invention of motion pictures, movie industries around the world have counted on a stream of technological developments to maximize production processes, increase profits, and entice audiences. Yet the history of film technology, spanning a little over one century, is a finite one, more subtle and incremental than one might assume.

Teen Films

The teen film has been a fixture in American cinema since the mid-twentieth century, yet serious study of the genre did not begin until the 1980s. David Considine wrote the first exhaustive study, The Cinema of Adolescence, in 1985, illuminating many of the messages and trends contained in films about teenagers.


The experience of seeing movies is likely to conjure thoughts of going to a movie theater: the smell of popcorn at the concession stand, the friendly bustle of fellow moviegoers in the lobby, the collective anticipation as the auditorium lights dim, and the sensation of being enveloped by a world that exists, temporarily, in the theater's darkness. Anyone who enjoys movies has vivid memories of going out to see movies; the romance of the movie theater is crucial to the appeal of cinema.


In its mystery, blends different beauties, sang Mario Cavaradossi in Puccini's opera, Tosca. Indeed, the saga of stage and film interaction over the course of a century has resulted in what historian Robert Hamilton Ball has called "a strange and eventful history." The two media, one the inheritor of centuries of dramatic tradition and the other, an upstart technology bereft of dramatic antecedents, have been linked from the days of the very first moving picture experiments by Thomas Edison and W.


Throughout the twentieth century, motion pictures were screened in a host of different places, including schools, churches, parks, and retail stores. But until the use of the home VCR became widespread in the 1980s, the primary site for film exhibition was the movie theater, which offered on a regular basis—and always for the price of a ticket—a moving picture program, a social experience, and sometimes much more.

Third Cinema

Third Cinema is a descriptive and a prescriptive concept that in practice is linked to, yet extends beyond, the historical emergence of "Third World cinema" in West, Southeastern, and Eastern Asia; Africa; Latin America; and the Pacific Basin in the mid-twentieth century. Whereas Third World cinema is loosely tied to processes of decolonization and nation-building and includes industrial filmmaking in its scope, Third Cinema is an ideologically charged and aesthetically meaningful term that denotes the adoption of an independent, often oppositional stance towards commercial genre and auteurist cinemas emanating from the more developed, Western (or Westernized, in the cases of Israel and Australia) capitalist world.


The thriller goes the grain of mundane modern life while at the same time remaining immersed in it. This concept indicates that the thriller is an essentially modern form, whose rise coincides with the arrival of urban industrialism, mass society, middle-class lifestyle, and the twentieth century.


The cinematograph first entered the Ottoman palace in 1896 as the sultan's entertainment. The following year, the first public exhibition took place in the Sponeck pub in Istanbul.

Twentieth Century Fox

Twentieth Century Fox (or 20th Century Fox) was among the first and the last major Hollywood studios to coalesce, initially emerging in the mid-teens as the Fox Film Corporation but not taking on its ultimate configuration until a 1935 merger with 20th Century Pictures, an upstart independent production company run by the inimitable Darryl F. Zanuck (1902–1979).

Ufa (Universum Film Aktiengesellschaft)

The story of the Universum-Film AG, popularly known as "Ufa," is inextricably bound to the history of German cinema in the first half of the twentieth century. As perhaps no other film company in relation to its national film culture, Ufa's changing fortunes were a barometer of the economic, political, aesthetic, and ideological struggles that took place in Germany until the aftermath of World War II.

United Artists

Unlike the other major motion picture companies, United Artists (UA) never owned a studio or had actors and directors under contract. It functioned throughout its life solely as a distribution company for independent producers.


The history of Universal has been remarkably varied and complex. From the 1915 inauguration of its colossal facility in Hollywood, Universal was a model studio in terms of centralized mass production and efficient marketing.


Although video and film are two very different mediums of representation, they overlap in significant ways, and their relationship continues to evolve on many levels. Both technologies combine images and sounds that are projected on screens to be viewed; both are time-based media; both have the capacity to reproduce reality accurately; and both are equally capable of distorting and manipulating reality.

Video Games

The field of computer game studies is a relatively new one, especially in terms of detailed textual analysis of the forms of games themselves (as opposed to studies based on assumptions about their social or psychological effects). A number of different theoretical paradigms are in potential competition in current efforts to map the field.

Vietnam War

After France withdrew its troops from Indochina in 1954, its former colony was partitioned by the Geneva Accords into North and South until elections could be held to determine the leadership of a united Vietnam. Fearing that Ho Chi Minh (1890–1969)—leader of the North who with the Viet Minh had defeated French troops at Dien Bien Phu—would succeed in uniting the nation as a communist state, the United States supported the South.


The representation of violence in the cinema has been a topic nearly as contentious as sexuality for those concerned with what is proper for the content of film. Yet censorship organizations have focused less on violence than on sexual images or images suggestive of various forms of gender liberation.

Walt Disney Company

Though the Walt Disney Company began as an independent production company producing cartoons distributed by other companies, in 2005 the company was one of the Hollywood majors and the second largest entertainment conglomerate in the world.

War Films

War has been a popular topic for motion pictures since the invention of the medium in the late 1800s. But there is no single generic type of war film, as the category encompasses many types of filmed stories about conflict.

Warner Bros.

Since its emergence as a major Hollywood studio in the late 1920s, Warner Bros. has remained at the forefront of the American film industry, proving itself time and again as the boldest innovator among the studios.


The western is unique among film genres in that it is set in a specific location and within a limited historical period: the western frontier of North America between roughly 1865 and 1890, from the end of the Civil War (1861–1865) to the closing of the frontier just before the twentieth century. Ostensibly grounded in the facts of history, genuine locations, and the biographies of actual individuals, the western seems a distinctly American form, but the genre's international appeal suggests its symbolic meanings and perhaps mythic functions.

Woman's Pictures

The term "woman's pictures" potentially embraces all films—made anywhere in the world, and throughout the history of cinema—that are about, or are made by, or consumed by, women. In practice, however, in its most common usage, the meaning of the term is much narrower than this, referencing a subtype of the film melodrama whose plot is organized around the perspective of a female character and which addresses a female spectator through thematic concerns socially and culturally coded as "feminine." A considerable and influential body of film history, theory, and criticism has grown up around a highly distinctive manifestation of this genre: a group of pictures produced in Hollywood during its "classical" era, the heyday of the studio system between the mid-1930s and the mid-1950s.

World War I

Although not the first conflict to touch cinema, the Great War, from August 1914 to November 1918, was unprecedented in scale. The visual power of film, combined with the aural suggestiveness of music, endowed cinema with a unique social function during the war.

World War II

World War II began in 1939 and lasted until 1945. Dividing the world between the Axis Powers—Germany, Italy and Japan—and the Allies, led by the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union, it was fought over numerous theaters in Western and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Africa and the Middle East, and the South Pacific and Southeast Asia.

Yiddish Cinema

Yiddish cinema must be unique in the annals of world film history as the only manifestation of a major filmmaking enterprise not primarily associated with a "national" entity. We might say, at the very least, that Yiddish cinema was the first truly transnational cinema, but one which ironically and perhaps ultimately tragically lacked a foundation in a national setting, that is, in a nation or a unique, sovereign state.


A cinematic tradition in the lands inhabited by Southern Slavs has evolved under various political divisions, of which Yugoslavia covers the longest time span. The film legacy of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is also crucial to the formation of national cinemas of several states, such as Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Macedonia.