Here is an investigation of film theory and aesthetics whose ambitious scope and virtually comprehensive range is likely to challenge the expert even as it informs the student. In raising important, occasionally rarefied questions about the nature of the medium--is ""space or time primary in the cinema?""; is ""the essential cinematic operation the recording of an image or the projecting of film?""--Mast is both advocate and adversary. Recapitulating the arguments of others--Eisenstein and Bazin were at odds on the above questions--Mast scrutinizes and evaluates the issues; and from an encompassing perspective, formulates an alternative approach that seems invariably to build on their respective strengths. Mast has two special virtues. The first is his ability to call widely and wisely upon the other arts for insights into film; he is thus able to push analogies to their limits (like that between the rhythmic effects of Eisenstein's montage and music), knowing when the uniqueness of the arts demands equally edifying contrasts. The second is his attention to the use of language, a significant factor in many disputes--at least as early as Arnheim and Bazin, and at least as recently as Simon, Kael, and Sarris. In differentiating between the meanings of words like film (material), movie (form), and cinema (process), he serves as a corrective to those who've muddied theoretical questions by using them interchangeably or carelessly; he also justifies his tripartite title. As instructively, Mast examines the relationship to cinema of mimesis and kinesis; of time, image, and sound; the art/nature and language/semiology controversies; and the ways in which cinema can affect or manipulate our responses--all with allusions to theory and appropriate films. The book swells with insights, and also benefits from a bibliography, illustrations, and charts which help to enhance our grasp of cinema's many communicative elements.