David Bordwell's website on cinema   click for CV




Perplexing Plots: Popular Storytelling and the Poetics of Murder

On the History of Film Style pdf online

Reinventing Hollywood: How 1940s Filmmakers Changed Movie Storytelling

Film Art: An Introduction

Christopher Nolan: A Labyrinth of Linkages pdf online

Pandora’s Digital Box: Films, Files, and the Future of Movies pdf online

Planet Hong Kong, second edition pdf online

The Way Hollywood Tells It pdf online

Poetics of Cinema pdf online

Figures Traced In Light

Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema pdf online

Exporting Entertainment: America in the World Film Market 1907–1934 pdf online


Hou Hsiao-hsien: A new video lecture!

CinemaScope: The Modern Miracle You See Without Glasses

How Motion Pictures Became the Movies

Constructive editing in Pickpocket: A video essay


Rex Stout: Logomachizing

Lessons with Bazin: Six Paths to a Poetics

A Celestial Cinémathèque? or, Film Archives and Me: A Semi-Personal History

Shklovsky and His “Monument to a Scientific Error”

Murder Culture: Adventures in 1940s Suspense

The Viewer’s Share: Models of Mind in Explaining Film

Common Sense + Film Theory = Common-Sense Film Theory?

Mad Detective: Doubling Down

The Classical Hollywood Cinema Twenty-Five Years Along

Nordisk and the Tableau Aesthetic

William Cameron Menzies: One Forceful, Impressive Idea

Another Shaw Production: Anamorphic Adventures in Hong Kong

Paolo Gioli’s Vertical Cinema

(Re)Discovering Charles Dekeukeleire

Doing Film History

The Hook: Scene Transitions in Classical Cinema

Anatomy of the Action Picture

Hearing Voices

Preface, Croatian edition, On the History of Film Style

Slavoj Žižek: Say Anything

Film and the Historical Return

Studying Cinema


Book Reports

Observations on film art

Madison calling Budapest: Can you read me?

Tuesday | May 31, 2011   open printable version open printable version

Can you look at this picture without smiling? I think it’s hard, for reasons that relate to one thread of the essay here. Thanks to Levi Buchhuber, age eight months, and Jim Cortada, grandpa.

DB here:

Next week several dozen bright, energetic researchers will be crowding into conference rooms at Elte University in Budapest for the annual meeting of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image. Full details on the event are here. As usual, I expect that a hell of a time will be had by all.

I’ve discussed the purposes and projects of the members of this dynamic bunch on earlier occasions. If you want a rundown, I’d suggest reading the items in chronological order:

*I sketch out the SCSMI project in this entry. There are more ruminations in two run-ups to the 2008 Madison SCSMI get-together (here and here), and one a year later summing up that event.

*For a report on the wonderful 2009 Copenhagen convention, go here.

*I try to sum up the wide-ranging 2010 Roanoke powwow here, while a recent blog, “Molly Wanted More,” can be considered an echo of that event.

*For an utterly fun introduction to some of the research on display at SCSMI, head to one of our most popular entries, the guest blog by Tim Smith called “Watching you watch THERE WILL BE BLOOD.”

This year’s paper line-up is especially enticing, and the prospect of seeing so many old friends is even more thrilling. Alas, for reasons beyond our control, Kristin and I aren’t able to attend. As the date draws near, my need to stay home saddens me more than I had expected it would. I must content myself with directing you, with all the fervor I can muster, to the event. Many of our members have told me that their first visit was life-changing, providing them a whole new social network that would encourage their research. Moreover, I notice that every year several participants tell me that they think this one was the best session yet. We’re just getting better, and we’re not going away! I should also alert you to the likelihood that many of the papers will be published in the SCSMI-affiliated journal Projections.

I thought, though, that I might participate a little at long range. So I’ve posted a web essay that sets out, in less technical terms, what my proposed paper for the convention would have tried to say. The essay, “Common Sense + Film Theory = Common-Sense Film Theory?,” reflects an effort to rethink ideas about filmic comprehension that I set out in Narration in the Fiction Film in 1985. This book was one of the first efforts to explore how findings in cognitive science might help us make progress in understanding cinematic storytelling.

I’d stand by much of what I argued there, but in the light of further thinking and later research (much of it conducted by SCSMI members), I wanted to float some ideas that recast and correct my arguments in the book. (Yes, I hope I’ve learned something in twenty-five years.) Some of my more recent notions are available in Poetics of Cinema and under the Film theory: Cognitivism category on this blogsite, but the conference provided a good occasion to submit to the sort of friendly but pointed critique at which my SCSMI colleagues excel.

Of course, give me another twenty-five years and I’ll probably find fault with what I say now. Others won’t need so much time.

Start with this question, which I think is one of the most fascinating we can ask:

What enables us to understand films?

Continue reading here.

To my SCSMI cohort: I wish you a superb gathering. See you next year, at Sarah Lawrence!

Joe Anderson, co-founder of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image, opens the 2010 session at Roanoke.

Comments are closed.

David Bordwell
top of page

have comments about the state of this website? go here