Introduction to film analysis, semiotics

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  • Eco’s definition quoted in Chandler, 2002, 2.
  • Introduction to film analysis, semiotics

    1. 1. Film Analysis. An Introduction to Film Semiotics Signs and meaning in film
    2. 2. Two combined approaches to film  As a (audio)visual system, a form of representation, a text.  Constructed through images (mostly) each of which can be analysed as a sign in order to understand its meaning (Semiotics)  As a narrative  A story constructed of characters, a setting, and a chain of events
    3. 3. Semiotics  Broad definition:  Semiotics is concerned with everything that can be taken as a sign (Eco, 1976)  Contemporary semioticians study signs as part of semiotic ‘sign systems’ They study how meanings are made and how reality is represented (Chandler 2002, 2)
    4. 4. What is representation?  “Whatever encompasses our attention is a world we have constructed to live in. Whatever organizes our sense of that world or of some portion of it is a version; and versions we call representations” (Andrew, 1984, 39).  “Representation conveys the illusion of a represented reality” (Fowler 1989, 71) – any of all the possible representations of reality is not the same as its referent, it requires an intervention, manipulation and conveys meaning about that reality
    5. 5. Representation in film (conflating forms)  Iconic representation (the image of an object is not the same as the object)  Narrative representation (the narrative representation of characters and events, etc)  Dramatic mimesis (equivalent to theatrical representation)  Representation through film language: cinematic signs (not only isolated images but mise-en-scene, movement, editing, etc)
    6. 6. Film “reading” and intepretation  Narrative modes: showing / telling  Experience of Mimesis: identificación  Interpretation of the cinematic image  Denotation/ connotation
    7. 7.  F. de Saussure’s sign  a 'signifier' (signifiant) - the form which the sign takes; and  the 'signified' (signifié) - the concept it represents.  The sign is the whole that results from the association of the signifier with the signified a signifier: the word open; a signified concept: that the shop is open for business. A sign is a recognizable combination of a signifier with a particular signified. The same signifier (the word 'open') could stand for a different signified (and thus be a different sign) if it were on a push- button inside a lift ('push to open door').
    8. 8. The construction of meaning in film  Film can draw on all the other arts for various effects simply because it can record them. Thus, all the connotative factors of spoken language can be accommodated on a film soundtrack […] (to say nothing of the connotative factors of dance, music, painting etc) Because film is a product of culture, it has resonances that go beyond its denotation. (Monaco 1981: 131)
    9. 9.  As the film theorist D N Rodowick puts it, 'Rather than reproducing the "world" spontaneously and automatically, as the ideology of realism would have the spectator believe, the cinematic apparatus always operates selectively, limiting, filtering and transforming the images that are its raw material' (Rodowick 1994, 77).
    10. 10.  As the film theorist D N Rodowick puts it, 'Rather than reproducing the "world" spontaneously and automatically, as the ideology of realism would have the spectator believe, the cinematic apparatus always operates selectively, limiting, filtering and transforming the images that are its raw material' (Rodowick 1994, 77).

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