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Mastering SQL Common Table Expressions: A Cinematic Journey


SQL is like the director's chair in the world of data, orchestrating complex queries with ease. But what if there's a powerful tool in SQL that can make queries more elegant and efficient? Enter Common Table Expressions (CTEs), the unsung heroes of SQL. In this blog post, we'll take on a cinematic journey through the world of SQL CTEs using the fictional DVD rental database. So lets start!!

Scene 1: Setting the Stage

Imagine you're a data analyst at a DVD rental company, and you want to know which countries has the most customers. You need to join data from multiple tables to get the answer. Enter CTEs, our screenplay's main character.

Scene 2: The Setup

Here's where we introduce our first CTE:

-- Define a CTE

WITH RentalCounts AS (

SELECT film_id,

COUNT(*) AS rental_count

FROM rental

GROUPBY film_id )

In this CTE named RentalCounts, we count how many times each movie (film_id) has been rented. It's like creating a backstage crew to handle the heavy lifting.

Scene 3: The Plot Thickens

Now, let's use our CTE to find the most popular movies:

-- Use the CTE in the main query





RentalCounts rc


film f

ON rc.film_id = f.film_id


rc.rental_count DESC


We join our RentalCounts CTE with the film table to fetch the movie titles and their rental counts. Our SQL query reads like a well-structured screenplay, making it easy to understand.

Scene 4: The Grand Finale

As the curtains draw, we present the top 10 most popular movies in our DVD rental store. Thanks to CTEs, we've simplified a complex query into a cinematic masterpiece:

  • Forsaken Truth: The Story of a Gladiator: 35 rentals

  • Hunchback Impossible: 33 rentals

  • Iron Moon: Confessions of a Astronaut: 32 rentals

  • Sorority Queen: 32 rentals

  • Invasion Cyclone: 30 rentals

  • Ali Forever: 30 rentals

  • Sunrise League: 29 rentals

  • Youth Kick: 29 rentals

  • Arachnophobia Rollercoaster: 28 rentals

  • Anthem Luke: 28 rentals


SQL Common Table Expressions are your scriptwriters, turning complex data into compelling stories. In our DVD rental adventure, CTEs made it easier to answer our boss's question. Whether you're in the world of movies or data, mastering CTEs will take your SQL skills to the next level. So, grab your SQL script, create some CTE magic, and start your cinematic journey today!

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