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Discussion: Spadoni, Introduction and Chapter 1 (1-46), part I.


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Greg J

I was reading up on the section of meaning and thought what type of meaning is it called when something in a film has meaning to you personally but was not intended by the film maker to elicit any response. Say the opening scene is of a small child playing with a basketball and you grew up playing the sport but no longer can play. To the individual this can be of a time lost them. Does this connect with any of the terms for meaning?

Shaun Huston

Greg: That's a good question. My thought is that you could look at that kind of meaning as either being implicit - below rather than on the surface of the film - or as part of what Spadoni calls the "symptomatic meaning" of a film, that is what the film seems to be saying about the world. Your specific example makes more sense to me as part of a film's implicit meaning, because it would be in the subtext, but not necessarily socially significant in the way that symptomatic meanings are in the sense of ideology, for example, which is the main case in point in the text.

I could also propose another kind of meaning, which is "affective meaning," that is, the emotional, visceral, and deeply personal meanings we get from or reactions we have to films. Spadoni does not address this kind of meaning directly, but it is one that has started to interest cultural geographers.


Question: How do I think about the referential meaning of a film? Spadoni states that it arises in the encounter between the film and its viewer and that all meaning is constructed.

Adaleni L.

Symptomatic meaning is a bit more complex for me to understand.. Is symptomatic meaning taking into consideration all of the other meanings and the film as a whole? It looks more as to the social values and more outside of the film understanding?

Shaun Huston

Steve: referential meaning, following Spadoni, is what different parts of a film mean in reference to other parts. So, as discussed in class, if you look at the frame I grabbed from "A Trip to the Moon," we know that we are looking at people on the surface of the moon in that image because of how that image relates to elements like the title of the movie, the narration, and the shots of the rocket heading towards the moon. If we look at that image in isolation, we have much less of an idea of what it means. In practice, referential meaning is made by viewers as they make sense of a film.

Adaleni: Your understanding of symptomatic meaning is correct; Spadoni states that symptomatic meaning is the synthesis of a film's story and what a film is trying to say, implicitly or explicitly, about the world. I think that he uses the word "symptomatic" here to emphasize that certain larger meanings of a film may or may not be intended by the filmmakers. So, for example, most romantic comedies affirm the centrality of romantic love and heterosexual union, but very few filmmakers would go into making a film intending that as an explicit message or purpose of a film.

Ethan Keen

Spadoni makes reference to the Five Principles for analyzing and discussing film. My question is based on these five principles in the context of Symptomatic meaning. If symptomatic meaning relates back into social conventions and interpretations then how do these principles help to properly portray the concepts intended behind particular scenes when faced with an ever changing social norm? I bring in the concept of the Indian Jones scene and how it was being booed at a latter showing. With changing social concepts particular scenes are now representing new meanings that weren't originally intended because they were just based in that era's social normativity and easily were, as Spadoni stated, over looked because it was so common.

Grace S.

I am honestly pretty confused with what implicit meaning means. I've read the section multiple times and I can't seem to get it. Is it more of just thinking outside the box and creating an abstract possible theme to the film?

Liza Petrashishina

I don't think that I have a question but I liked the section of our reading on meaning. The book mentiones interpretation. I bet it's a challenge to create somethig with the meaning that you want people to get out of. I wonder how they do that to get their message across and be convincing.

Shaun Huston

Grace: another word for "implicit meaning" is "subtext." Explicit meaning is what is on the surface. So, for example, if we see one character giving another character a red rose, the explicit meaning of the scene would be what we see of that action. The implicit meaning or subtext (in many cases anyway) would be that the one character is telling the other character that they love them. What does a film imply (implicit) by what it shows (explicit) is the question here.

Armando Arriaga

the terminology seems a little complex to me even when I tried to find the meanings on the dictionary, this is seriously a new language that we are about learn. the book states that the meanings can be interpreted in many way, it all depends on the context or items in exchange. this situations can be very ambiguous in the movies is playing. many messages and clues can be hidden and never able to be revealed . the interpretation of any frame, shot or angle regardless close up or medium close can be only be interpreted by the audience.

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