The self-referential movies web site


Self-referential movies




See index of movie titles in alphabetical order

See index of movie titles by release date

Links to interesting movie sites

Welcome to Movies-seivoM, the home of movie meta-ness.

Movies-seivoM is dedicated to movies that "break the 4th wall" (perhaps in the case of movies it should be the 3rd wall) and call attention to their own artificiality. These are movies that acknowledge—sometimes only for a few sly seconds—that they are constructions and not the windows into actual events that most movies pretend to be. Included in this mischievous category are movies set in Hollywood, movies about moviemaking, movies where someone appears "as himself," movies where recognizable stars make uncredited appearances, movies where Bob Hope complains to the camera about his agent, and cartoons that deconstruct themselves before our eyes. I also believe that many films about hoaxes, surveillance, master criminals, spies, confidence games, monsters, femmes fatales, and quick-witted improvisations offer allegories of the movie-making or movie-viewing experience.

The focus is on films made before our current Age of Irony, back when there was something fresh and challenging about reflexivity in art. By the early 90s, movie self-consciousness had became too self-conscious for my taste. The Muppet Movie, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, and The Player made it under the wire, but looking back I see that Young Frankenstein was a bad omen and Scream was already borderline annoying. Now we have Scary Movie 3, Adaptation, and Bad Education, and it's hard to find a movie without large stretches in quotation marks.

The genesis of this site is an Internet "mailing list" (list-serv) that ran in the late 1990s. Postings were sent out regularly to about 850 subscribers, some of whom wrote back. This site publishes only essays written by the List's founder, Barbara Bernstein (copyright concerns, not egoism), but what you read here reflects leads and feedback from many people. You may run across an occasional artifact like "As Sam mentioned last week..." or "just out on video!"

New technology has made it possible to learn about more movies (thank you, Google), see more movies (thank you, Netflix), and snap screen shots that are worth a thousand words (thank you, PowerDVD). I continue to add photos and write about movies. I appreciate leads and insights, so please email me with your thoughts. Thank you for visiting.

Recent additions:
The Evidence of the Film convicts a sneaky criminal, a breakthrough for 1913.
Footlight Parade. A 1933 backstage musical that's all about movies.
Fireplace Reminiscences. Already in 1908, memory as a movie-within-a-movie
Camera Buff, Krzysztof Kieslowski's Moscow Film Festival winner (1979)
Rose Hobart (1936). Artist Joseph Cornell re-edits a jungle melodrama (1936)
Bobby Bumps Puts a Beanery on the Bum, a pivotal early cartoon: 1918!
The Man With a Movie Camera, 1929 Constructivist manifesto; super self-ref




copyright ©2005 Barbara Bernstein