Feminist film theory is theoretical work within film criticism which is derived from feminist politics and feminist theory. Feminists have taken many different approaches to the analysis of cinema. These include discussions of the function of women characters in particular film narratives or in particular genres, such as film noir, where a woman character can often be seen to embody a subversive sexuality that is dangerous to men and is ultimately punished with death.
In considering the way that films are put together, many feminist film critics have pointed to the "male gaze" that predominates in classical Hollywood filmmaking. Laura Mulvey's essay "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" gave one of the most widely influential versions of this argument. This argument holds that through the use of various film techniques, such as shot reverse shot, a typical film's viewer becomes aligned with the point of view of its male protagonist. Notably, women function as objects of this gaze far more often than as proxies for the spectator.