Feminist film theory has a complex history of debate, both with external theoretical positions, and among its own theorists. At the heart of this debate is the difficult relationship between 'woman' as cinematic representation, real life women, and the female theorist. Passionate detachment is the stance of the feminist engaged in a critical reading of the cinema, whether as film critic, as film-maker or as audience member. This book traces the key developments and debates in feminist film theory over the past twenty-five years. Beginning with the work on stereotypes of women from the early 1970s and moving to the most recent debates within cultural criticism, it charts the relationship of feminist film theory to the contexts from which it arises - and to which it offers a profound challenge. From arguments about 'the male gaze' to work on fantasy, horror and the body, each chapter presents a clear and detailed critical account of a key area of debate. Feminist film theory emerges as the central arena in which feminist theories of representation, identity and cultural politics have been fought out from the 1970s onwards.