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Cinema of Attraction

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When one contemplates the concepts of cinema and attractions, the ideas of the modern day blockbuster film might come to mind. World disasters, car chases, and high profile police investigations are just some of the story lines that attract people to theatres year round. The term "cinema of attraction" introduced by Tom Gunning into the study of film is defined more precisely. To quote Gunning, a cinema of attraction: "directly solicits spectator attention, inciting visual curiosity, and supplying pleasure through an exciting spectacle" (p.230). This spectacle may be demonstrated through dance, song or offscreen supplements, such as sound effects and spoken commentary. Rather than a straightforward entertainment purpose, a film may seek to attract its viewer by offering them something unique. Gunning explains that many early documentary films sought to transport the viewer through space and time, rather than to simply tell a story (p.230). An example of this would be for instance taking the audience on a journey that could only be experienced through the film screen such as witnessing the birth of baby elephant or a trip to a parallel universe. In most cases this spectacle is created for the audience as a means of a distraction from the ongoing narrative. In simplest terms, the cinema of attractions is cinema based on the quality or ability to show something. Examples of the cinema of attractions have been found throughout the films the Great Train Robbery, Nanook of the North and The Wizard of Oz. There are some film qualities that without a doubt would prove to be an attraction to the audience. However, depending on how the individual interprets, this ‘attraction' is subjective and thus every audience member may find different techniques in the film to have some form of appeal.

The Great Train Robbery was one of the earliest silent films, directed by Edwin S. Porter in 1903. Being history's first film narrative, much of the scenes that took place were new...

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