Cinema of Attractions

Early cinema was not introduced for the audience to get an understanding of a plot or walking out with a newly achieved knowledge about something, but simply to create a spectacle that made the audience astonished. Firstly, moving images were enough to create a spectacle but later on themes such as horror, ghosts and magic was introduced for the astonishment and illusion of the audience.

Today audiences still goes to the cinema to be astonished or see a spectacle. Film, including Jurassic Park or Avatar, are film that in their respective time used the newest technology to create illusions and spectacles. Important to notice, is the fact that audiences mostly are aware of the virtual or non-existing world but let themselves emerge into the fantasy of creatures or dinosaurs, where the on-screen action becomes embodied through emotion, attraction or astonishment.

In the class discussion about whether plot or spectacle/attraction is most important when going to the cinema, most students agreed that the spectacle was most important. The spectacle in this case can be seen as newest technology, actors or a creation of an illusionary world. Furthermore, the attractions the audiences seek includes horror, shock, astonishment, fear, disgust but also more positively empathy. Walter Benjamin describes attractions as ‘lust of the eye’.

Todays ‘cinema of attractions’ are IMAX, theme parks, Nintendo DS but also, maybe less mainstream and digital, magazines and novels.

The cinema is always changing from seats to new visual effects. The future is therefore depending on new technology but a couple of qualified guesses could be 4D with movement in seats and for the audience to use more of their senses.

A cinema project set up by Soho House Group, a members club started in London, uses the idea of eating while watching film. The audience will therefore get an extended experience by using the taste buds together with visuals. I have included a little advertising video to the blog but more information about the events can be found on

The closest place to Bristol where you can experience this is Babington House in Somerset.


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