The Semiotics of Cinema
What is Film Language?
Ways in which films tell stories and affect the viewer; the elements of filmmaking employed to tell the story in a particular way
Christian Mertz’s theory: film was not a language system but a language.
French film theorist
Customary ways of doing things, rather than grammatical rules
A way in which something is usually done, especially within a particular area or activity
Example: Canadian tire money, where it is not real and has no valuable anywhere other than that particular store.
Time period (Western)
Image of culture
Clint Eastwood brings more meaning to a simple photograph of a revolver
The study of communication, be it verbal or nonverbal, visual or aural
The study of the code or conventions of cinema and offering explanations for why and how they work
As humans, we have to put meanings to signs
Everything is a sign, they are everywhere
Three Main Components to a sign/code
Sign – the smallest meaningful unit of communication, the sign itself
Signifier – the thing seen or heard, the word “stop” on a stop sign
Signified – the meaning of a given image, the message
Most signs have all three components
Levels of Signs
Iconic – a diagram, photograph, or representation. (i.e. a map of Nova Scotia)
Symbolic – signifies, does not literally represent. (i.e. Nova Scotia flag)
Indexical – connected in some way, but not conventional. Can have multiple meanings. (i.e. the tartan of Nova Scotia)
Silent Cinema: everyone could understand it, making it universal.
An early motion-picture device in which images were viewed through a peephole.
Invented in the 1890’s.
All you needed was some cultural understanding/experiences.
Can be iconic, indexical, and symbolic all at once.
1. Dominant films, i.e. those films thoroughly imbued with dominant ideology.
2. Resistant films, which