This article is a study of ‘film as sensation’. It provides a new approach to abstract cinema practices and demonstrates that they include the idea of ‘pure sensation’. Therefore, abstract cinema should not be interpreted as purely structural and conceptual. The author argues that ‘film as sensation’ has been part of the essence of cinema since the very beginning. The argument proceeds from a brief rewriting of the history of abstract cinema with a view to demonstrating how ‘film as sensation’ is present in the essential moments of cinema’s history. Furthermore, it is argued that this concept of ‘film as sensation’ does not correspond to an idea of cinema or visual effects as ‘pure entertainment’ but should be understood as ‘critical rupture’. This idea of ‘critical rupture’ finds its theoretical justification in the concept of ‘perceptive shock’ or ‘perceptive trauma’ from which Walter Benjamin justified the aesthetic intentions of the new-born art.