(Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith n.d.)
Star Wars III DVD cover- Textual analysis
Communication is imperative to the life of our culture. Fiske (1990:2) describes communication as “the production and exchange of meanings. It is concerned with how messages, or texts, interact with people in order to produce meanings”. All humans instinctively look for meaning amongst countless forms of texts all the time, whether it be in television commercials, friends' fashion sense or architectural structures. However, I will be providing an analysis of the signs within the text Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith in the form of a DVD cover. A textual analysis makes an educated guess at some of the most likely interpretations that might be made from a particular text (McKee, 2003:1). I will deconstruct elements of the title, characters and conventional DVD symbols to effectively establish the most obvious meaning behind each of these signs.
At its most basic level, a sign is the combination of the physical form that the it takes, (the signifier), and the concept that it represents (the signified) (Saussure in Schirato, 1996:24). The elements within the title Star Wars contain various signs which work effectively to produce and communicate its intended meaning. The first word in the title 'Star' acts as a conventional sign, as the word is known by different sounds and spelling in other languages. (Harrington:2013b). However in English-speaking countries, the word alludes to the setting of outer-space. Space is often the prominent location of many science-fiction texts, whether it be in books such as Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein, or movies such as Alien by Ridley Scott. The other signifier 'Wars' is a universal connotation of an ongoing battle occurring between opposing parties, usually a good or bad force. Harrington (2013b) clarifies that a text belongs to a genre when it shares key elements such as style, form and conventions with other texts. The subject of good and evil is a recurring theme throughout the sci-fi genre and can be proven by the Digital Film Archive (n.d.:5) when they explain that science fiction “encapsulates the universal central narrative of good versus evil”. IMDB (Most Popular “Good Versus Evil” Sci Fi Titles, n.d.) gives an extensive list of sci-fi movies that follow this central narrative. Consequently, the combination of 'Star' and 'Wars' written in a gold font, signifies to the viewer that this film is a battle of good verse evil occurring within a galactic realm. The audience is able to draw on existing intertextual knowledge of other science -fiction movies are therefore able to familiarise themselves with the piece.
The understanding of characters within a text are an important component in structuring the work's intended meaning. The characters displayed on the front of Star Wars III assist the audience in creating a likely interpretation of the text's intended meaning. The visual design shows an ascending formation of four serious-faced characters, shadowed by a menacing figure in the background. Three of the characters in the foreground of the image are facing left and appear to be human, while the other extra-terrestrial being has its back turned to them in the other direction. This deliberate positioning represents a sense of conflict (Harrington, 2013b) or a clash of morale, thus working in relation with the title of the film and it's signification of good versus evil. Most viewers would determine that the evil is represented in the form of the alien. Although there is an arbitrary connection between aliens and wickedness, it can be noted that Western Society has long held the notion that the unknown is something to be feared, as proven by alien commentators (Bowman, 2007). Similarly, the relationship between the human characters and the dark figure in the background could easily be interpreted as a representation of good and evil, stemming from cultural...
References: Bowman, D. 2012. Do You Have an Unreasonable Fear of Aliens? http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20071121083451AAj3myi (Accessed March 25, 2013).
Gripsrud, J. 2006. Chapter 1 : Semiotics : Signs, Codes And Cultures. Berkshire, UK: Open University Press.
Harrington, S. 2010a. KCB101 Introduction to Media and Communications: Week Four Lecture Notes. http://blackboard.qut.edu.au (Accessed March 25, 2013).
Harrington, S. 2010b. KCB101 Introduction to Media and Communications: Week Three Lecture Notes. http://blackboard.qut.edu.au (Accessed March 25, 2013).
IMDB. n.d. Most Popular “Good Versus Evil” Sci Fi Titles. http://www.imdb.com/search/title?at=0&genres=sci_fi&keywords=good-versus evil&sort=moviemeter,asc (Accessed March 25, 2013).
MacLachlan, Gale and Reid, I. 1994. Framing Occurs, But There Is No Frame. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
McKee, A. 2003. Textual Analysis: A Beginner 's Guide. London: Sage.
Saussure in Schirato, T. 2012. Communication and cultural literacy : An Introduction. St. Leonards: NSW. Allen & Unwin.
Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. n.d. “Wookiepedia”. Image. http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Star_Wars_Episode_III:_Revenge_of_the_Sith (Accessed March 27, 2013).
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