© 2020

The Structure of Complex Images


Part of the Palgrave Close Readings in Film and Television book series (CRFT)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Robert B. Ray
    Pages 1-14
  3. Film Studies and Its Problems

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 15-15
  4. Cinephilia, Cavell, and Description-as-Method

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 77-77
    2. Robert B. Ray
      Pages 79-100
    3. Robert B. Ray
      Pages 101-120
  5. Movie Star Performance

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 121-121
    2. Robert B. Ray
      Pages 123-136
    3. Robert B. Ray
      Pages 155-162
  6. Memory Theaters

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 163-163
    2. Robert B. Ray
      Pages 165-196
  7. The Structure of Complex Images

  8. Back Matter
    Pages 249-259

About this book


After over a century of existence, the cinema still has its mysteries.  Why, for example, is the job we call movie stardom unlike any other in the world?  How do films provide so much unconcealed information that we fail to notice?  What makes it hard to define what counts as “acting”?  How do movies like Casablanca and Breathless store the film and world histories of their generations?  How can we reconcile auteurism’s celebration of the movie director’s authority with the camera’s automatism?  Why have the last four decades of film criticism so often neglected such questions?  After beginning with an overview of film studies, this book proposes a shift from predictable theoretical approaches to models that acknowledge the perplexities and mysteries of the movies.  Deriving methods from cinephilia, Wittgenstein, Richard Rorty, Stanley Cavell, Eleanor Duckworth, V. F. Perkins, and James Naremore, Robert B. Ray offers close readings that call attention to what we have missed in such classic films as La Règle du Jeu, It Happened One Night, It’s a Wonderful Life, Vertigo, Holiday, The Philadelphia Story, Casablanca, Breathless, and Tickets.


Images Film Studies Complexity Mystery Classic Cinema Close Reading Structure Film Theory

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

About the authors

Robert B. Ray is Professor of English at the University of Florida, USA.  He is the author of A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema: 1930-1980, The Avant-Garde Finds Andy Hardy, How a Film Theory Got Lost and Other Mysteries in Cultural Studies, The ABCs of Classic Hollywood, and Walden X 40.  He is also a member of The Vulgar Boatmen, whose records include You and Your Sister, Please Panic, Opposite Sex, and Wide Awake.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Structure of Complex Images
  • Authors Robert B. Ray
  • Series Title Palgrave Close Readings in Film and Television
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Close Readings in Film and Television
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Literature, Cultural and Media Studies Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-40630-1
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-40633-2
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-40631-8
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XII, 259
  • Number of Illustrations 26 b/w illustrations, 14 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Close Reading
    Film Theory
    Film History
  • Buy this book on publisher's site