From the Renaissance on, a new concept of the frame becomes crucial to a range of artistic media, which in turn are organized around and fascinated by this frame. The frame decontextualizes, cutting everything that is within it from the continuity of the world and creating a realm we understand as the realm of fiction. The modern theatrical stage, framed paintings, the novel, the cinematic screen--all present us with such framed-off zones. Naturally, the frame creates a separation between inside and out. But, as this book argues, what is outside the frame, what is offstage, or off screen, remains particularly mysterious. It constitutes the primary enigma of the work of art in the modern age. It is to the historical and conceptual significance of this "off" that this book is dedicated. By focusing on what is outside the frame of a work of art, it offers a comprehensive theory of film, a concise history of American cinema from D.W. Griffith to Quentin Tarantino, and a reflection on the place and significance of film within the arts of modernity in general.