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Buscombe’s Theory and Semiotics
Buscombe’s theory - a useful starting point when discussing genre. It states that
one genre is differentiated from another by the ICONS associated with it; that is,
the physical objects or symbols which we can see on the screen (or in the poster, in
He identified four areas in which to look for these icons:
Location – where the majority of the scenes are set
Appearance (clothing, hair, tattoos…etc.)
Tools (guns, cars, machines…etc.)
Miscellaneous (anything else)
Semiotics is how certain messages are portrayed throughout the film using both the
signified and the signifier. These are important in indicating to the audience what genre
the film is.
The opening scene of Love Actually is set in Heathrow airport.
Within the first scene all characters are seen to be happy and
continuously smiling. It consists of all characters embracing each other
tightly and closely; as it is set in an airport, we can infer that it is because
the couples/family members have been away from each other for long
periods of time.
The initial scene evokes high emotions within the audience, particularly
happiness and love, then setting the scene for the rest of the film.
High emotions indicate that the film is a romance.
Within the opening no tools or props are used. This then allows the
audience to purely concentrate on an analyse the emotions of the
people we are presented with.
Close ups of the characters and their reunions with one another provides
the audience with an opportunity to study the characters faces to fully
comprehend their happiness, love and general excitement with and for