Dr Bruce Isaacs

Dr Bruce Isaacs

B.A., University of Sydney
PhD, University of Sydney

 Phone 9351 3568
 FAX 9351 4212
 Location RC Mills Building
 Email bruce.isaacs@sydney.edu.au

I am interested in a wide range of film studies-related topics: histories of film (with a focus on Hollywood, though I have abiding interests in various ‘New Waves’ and movements), film aesthetics and style, critical approaches to film production, film and popular culture (including the relationship between film and other pop culture art forms such as television, literature and music). I am currently intrigued by various developments in High Concept Hollywood and its evolution of new aesthetic practices, including digital and 3D cinema.

Research Interests

  • Film Aesthetics: the legitimacy of ‘Film Style’
  • Realism and Spectacle
  • American Cinema: Classical Hollywood/Hollywood Renaissance (late 60s to Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, 1979)/Hollywood High Concept Cinema
  • Auteur Theory, Independence, New Aesthetic Sensibilities
  • Digital Cinema and Aesthetics: ‘Future Cinema’
  • Film Production Practice – with a focus on screenwriting as a literary and cinematic form

Current Research

  • "The Art of Pure Cinema: Hitchcock and His Imitators" [Book, contracted with Oxford University Press]
  • Neobaroque Aestheticism in the Modern Genre Film: Sergio Leone, Brian De Palma, John Carpenter, Quentin Tarantino
  • Screenwriting and the ‘cinematicality’ of a literary form.



  • The Orientation of Future Cinema: Technology, Aesthetics, Spectacle. New York: Continuum, Forthcoming Feb 2013.
  • Toward a New Film Aesthetic. New York: Continuum Press International, 2008.

Book Chapters & Journal Articles

  • ‘Intertextuality as Activity: Storytelling in the Cinema of Richard Kelly.’ [[i|In Hollywood Puzzle Films: Beyond Classical Cinema]], ed.Warren Buckland. Contracted for publication: Routledge, 2013.
  • ‘Technologies of New Experience: On Cinema, 3-D and the Imaginary.’ Stereoscopic Media (November, 2011): http://www.stereoscopicmedia.org/?p=110
  • ‘Art, Image and Spectacle in High Concept Cinema.’ In Blockbuster Auteur: Themes in the Cinema of James Cameron, ed. Matthew Kapell and Steven McVeigh. McFarland Press, 2011: 90-108.
  • ‘Requiem 102’. Requiem 102 is a collaborative film analysis project coordinated by Professor Nicholas Rombes of the University of Detroit Mercy. The project began in October 2010 and concluded in March of 2011. The project solicited critical and creative engagements with Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For a Dream, of which I contributed two: ‘Frame 10’ and ‘Frame 36’.
  • ‘A Vision of a Time and Place: Spiritual Humanism and the Utopian Impulse”. In Matthew Kapell (ed.), Star Trek as Myth: Essays on Symbol and Archetype at the Final Frontier. Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland Press, 2010: 182-196.
  • ‘Screening Australia: Samson and Delilah’. Screen Education 54 (2009): 12-17. [Non-refereed]
  • ‘The Birth of a Nation’. Metro 161 (June 2009): 35-40. [Non-refereed]
  • ‘The Cinematic Real: Aesthetics and Spectacle’. Sydney Studies in English (October, 2007): 96-124.
  • ‘A Survey of Popular and Scholarly Receptions of the Star Wars Franchise’. In Matthew Kapell and John Shelton Lawrence (eds.), Finding the Force in the Star Wars Franchise. New York and Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2006.
  • ‘Non-Linear Narrative’. In Nicholas Rombes (ed.), New-Punk Cinema. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2005: 126-139.
  • [With Theodore Trost] ‘Story, Product, Franchise: Images of Postmodern Cinema’. In William Doty and Matthew Kapell (eds.). Jacking in to the Matrix Franchise: Cultural Reception and Interpretation. New York: Continuum Press International, 2004: 65-83.
  • ‘Popular Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of The Matrix’. New Media Poetics 3 (May 2004).

Conference Papers & Presentations

  • ‘Spielberg’s Authorial Expressivity: Image and Movement in the July 4th Attack in Jaws.’ POPCAANZ 2012 (Melbourne, June 27-29).
  • ‘Neobaroque Aesthetics in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West.’ Invited presentation to New Frontiers: The Western Genre in Film, Media and Games (Co-sponsored by Swinburne and La Trobe Universities, May 2012). Keynote speakers include Edward Buscomb, Carl Plantinga and Leonard Engel.http://newfrontierswc.com/
  • Robert Altman, ‘McCabe and Mrs Miller.’ Interview with Jason di Rosso, MovieTime, ABC National Radio. April, 2012.
  • ‘The Phenomenology of 3-D Realism: Avatar and Depth Aesthetics’. Invited paper, SCMS Panel Presentation (Boston, March, 21-25, 2012). This paper was also presented via video-link at the 3-D Storytelling Conference (London, March, 22-23, 2012).
  • ‘Images of Los Angeles: Between Still and Moving Images.’ Invited Speaker, Art Gallery of NSW, February 8, 2012.
  • ‘Park Chan-Wook’s Night Fishing and Digital Film Culture.’ Invited Speaker, Koffia Korean Film Festival, 2011.
  • ‘The Paradox of 3D: Between Depth and Surface in James Cameron’s Avatar’. 2nd Annual Australia and New Zealand Popular Culture Conference. Auckland, June 30-July 2, 2011.
  • ‘Screenwriting: Modernist Impulses in a Cinematic Form’. Cinema, Modernity and Modernism: XVth Biennial Conference of the Film and History Association of Australia and New Zealand. Upcoming: Nov 30-Dec 3, 2010.
  • ‘Screening the Unconscious’. Annual Film Lecture, Sydney Jung Society. August, 2009 [Invited Lecture]
  • ‘Pure Film: Reconceptualising Cinematic Realism’. The XIIIth Biennial Conference of the Film and History Association, Melbourne, November 16-19, 2006.
  • ‘Image, Quotation and Cinematic Meaning: Mapping Ideology onto Images’. Eternal Sunshine of the Academic Mind: Symposium. University of Sydney, 2006.
  • ‘Popular Postmodernism: The Cultural Logic of The Matrix’. Critical Animals Conference, University of Newcastle. 2004.

Additional Writing

  • Lake Clarence. Feature length film script at 4th draft stage of development [2010]. Shortlisted for a Screen Australia screenwriting grant.
  • ‘The Sound of the Fury of Walter Wishwell’. New Writing 1.1 (2004): 38-43. [Short story]
  • The Land and Nightfall”. Nebula. March, 2005. [Poetry]
  • I have written several HSC Advanced study guides on Film, Film History and Critical Analysis, published by Five Senses Education



  • SLAM Research Grant, 2011 ($3000)
  • SLAM conference travel grant, 2011 ($1500)
  • US Studies Centre Research Grant, 2011 ($5000): Cinematic Spectacle: Effects, Technology and the American High Concept Film.