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Metacinema, also meta-cinema, analogous to metafiction in literature, is a mode of filmmaking in which the film informs the audience that they are watching a work of fiction. Metacinema often references its own production, working against narrative conventions that aim to maintain the audience's suspension of disbelief.[1] Elements of metacinema includes scenes where characters discuss the making of the film or where production equipment and facilities are shown.


Examples of metacinema date back to the early days of narrative filmmaking, in films such as A Film Johnnie (George Nichols, 1914) starring Charles Chaplin.[2] In the 1940s, backstage musicals and comedies like Road to Singapore (Victor Schertzinger, 1940) and Hellzapoppin' (H. C. Potter, 1941) exhibited a vogue for exploration of the medium of film at the same time as the monopolistic grip of Hollywood studios was loosening allowed more space for creative self-examination.[3] Metacinema can be identified in art cinema of the 1960s like (Federico Fellini, 1963) or The Passion of Anna (Ingmar Bergman, 1969), and it can often be found in the self-reflexive filmmaking of the Nouvelle Vague in films like Le Mépris (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963) and Day for Night (François Truffaut, 1973).[4]

Metacinema continues to flourish in art films and comedies where experimentation with narrative conventions is encouraged.[5]


Notable examples of films of this type include (in chronological order):


  1. ^ Ames, Christopher. Movies About the Movies. p. 15
  2. ^ Parish, James. Hollywood On Hollywood.
  3. ^ Ames, Christopher. Movies About the Movies. p. 41, 56
  4. ^ Stam, Robert. Reflexivity in Film and Literature.
  5. ^ Seidman, Steven. Comedian Comedy: A Tradition in Hollywood Film.