This article argues that the central dimensions of film aesthetics may be explained
by a general theory of viewer psychology, the PECMA flow model. The PECMA flow model
explains how the film experience is shaped by the brain‘s architecture and the
operation of different cognitive systems; the model describes how the experience is
based on a mental flow from perception, through emotional activation and cognitive
processing, to motor action. The article uses the flow model to account for a variety
of aesthetic phenomena, including the reality-status of films, the difference between
narrative and lyrical-associative film forms, and the notion of ‘excess’.