The Cinema of Attraction: Films or Audiovisual Media?

“Early cinema is an exhibitionist cinema where the spectator is overtly acknowledged and invited to look” (Rizzo, 2008).

At that time, without audiovisual media, more attention was paid to the film content itself, therefore exaggerated ways are common to express the films, quoting Gunning (1994:190)

“as moments of spectacle, their purpose lies in the attention they draw to themselves” , lack of concern with creating a self-sufficient narrative world upon the screen” (Gunning, 2000:65).

“If the medium itself and its unique laws of formal representation serve as a starting-point, many of its parameters either transcend or obscure the categories that have been gained in tracking narrative strategies of literary texts” (Kuhn & Schmidt, 2014).

With the development of film technology, visual and auditory performance are increasingly rich, audiences are no longer satisfied with the simple narrative forms, more and more effects are added to films, such as 3D, widescreen, and new modes of multi-track sound, right up to phenomena like the Imax, CGI and special effects. Under the stimulation of multiple senses, audiences may be more concerned about audiovisual media rather than the film itself.

“I believe the attractions are still one of the most important elements in later films even though it might not be weighted much as before” (Sun, 2010).

In fact, the role of the film itself is always the core, not weakened, however, with the development of film technology, audiovisual media plays an increasingly important role, namely, when the relative proportion of film itself maintains, while the ascension of the proportion of audiovisual media makes it seems film itself weakened. Thanks to the increasingly abundant technologies, audiovisual media’s proportion will continue to play a considerable part.

Written by Zifei Xu


Gunning, T. (1994) “The Whole Town’s Gawking: Early Cinema and the Visual Experience of Modernity”, The Yale Journal of Criticism, 7 [2], 190.

Gunning, T. (2000), “The Cinema of Attraction: Early Film, its Spectator and the Avant-Garde”, London: Blackwell.

Kuhn, M. and Schmidt, J. (2014) Narration in Film, Available from [Accessed 4 March]

Rizzo, T. (2008) YouTube: the New Cinema of Attractions, Journal of Media Arts Culture, 5 [1]. Available from [Accessed 4 March]

Sun, V. L. (2010) Cinema of Attractions, Available from [Accessed 4 March]

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