What Makes a Film Tick?

Cinematic Affect, Materiality and Mimetic Innervation

by Anne Rutherford (Author)
Thesis 367 Pages
Series: Film Cultures, Volume 4


This book offers a close study of how film produces sensory-affective experience for the spectator. It argues that we must explore this affective dimension if we want to understand how cinema takes up cultural or thematic issues. Examining cinematic affect through close readings of how affective immersion in cinema works to engage viewers with history, memory and cultural specificity, it deals with both fiction film and documentary. Taking an international perspective, it includes case studies of Korean detective film, classical Japanese cinema, modern Greek cinema, independent American cinema, Indian documentary, Australian television documentary, Indonesian political docudrama, avantgarde French documentary and Australian Indigenous film.
Rutherford draws on the analysis of embodied affect to revise many of the foundational concepts of film studies. Drawing on Miriam Hansen’s readings of Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer, the book explores the capacity of film to produce experiences in which the boundaries between the spectator and the film become porous and the viewer is transported in a heightened way into the film.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2011 (August)
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2011. 367 pp., num. coloured and b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Anne Rutherford (Author)

Anne Rutherford is a Senior Lecturer in Cinema Studies in the School of Humanities and Languages at University of Western Sydney and is an Associate Member of the Centre for Cultural Research at UWS. She has published numerous critical essays and interviews on cinematic affect and embodiment, cinematic materiality, mise en scène, film sound and documentary film. She has also made several short films.


Title: What Makes a Film Tick?