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Dana Polan


Provisionally, we might define cinema as on-screen (especially large-screen) presentation of moving images that, for most of the history of the medium, have been pre-recorded photo-chemically on some support (most often, strips of celluloid). Among the practices of modern, mass-disseminated visual culture, the cinema was perhaps the pre-eminent form for at least the first half of the twentieth century (after which it confronted challenges for audiences' attention from television) and it certainly continues to exert great impact on both leisure activities and the visual education of publics worldwide into the twenty-first century (→ Popular Culture ). As film theorists of the 1970s were fond of declaring, the cinema combines a technical apparatus (that is, technology for capturing images; technology for presenting those images to viewers) and a mental apparatus: that is, the psychological dispositions that encourage spectators to invest cinematic images with great affective power (→ Film Theory ). That so many ordinary citizens report that their first response to the media images of 9/11 was to be reminded of → Hollywood big-explosion disaster films (and even perhaps wonder if they weren't seeing “just a movie”) is a sobering reminder of the cinema's ongoing emotional power, its ability to insinuate its imaginary visions into our very mental make-up. The cinema emerged out of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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