This essay discusses the central historical proposition of Gilles Deleuze’s cinema books, the “sensorimotor break” that separates the classical cinema of the movement-image from the modern cinema of the time-image. That proposition is more or less in line with dominant accounts of the politics of periodization in twentieth-century aesthetics. Jacques Rancière’s thought offers a powerful challenge to any such notion of a break or rupture, and Rancière pays particular critical attention to Deleuze’s work on cinema. A work by the Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi (The Mirror) is introduced in order to show up some shortcomings of Rancière’s critique insofar as it impacts Deleuze’s project, and to illustrate the difference between understanding cinema as a medium of thought and as a practice.

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