Semiotics

LOST IN TRANSLATION and mood

The reading by Ott and Keeling emphasizes that Lost in Translation is a film that wants audiences to sense or feel more than read, that is, interpret or decode, narrative and dialogue? What kinds of affective or emotional states did you experience during the film? What were the visual elements, the aspects of m-e-s, that contributed to those moods for you?

 


IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE: So close, so far

Brunette argues that one way mise-en-scene is used in In the Mood for Love is to both bring the audience closer to the characters and to keep the audience at a distance or remove. So, for example, close-ups are used to foster a sense of intimacy and emotional connection, but the camera maybe focused on a part of the body instead of the face. In other cases, we may be shown an empty room or hallway while the characters talk out of frame. Camera movement also plays a role here. A shot may start with the camera on the characters, but then move to a position where our view is obstructed by a doorway or other object.

Did you have this feeling of both being close to Mo Chow-wan and Su Li-zhen, but also distant? What role did the vsiual style of the film have on shaping your relationship to the characters?


Film Analysis: IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE

Below are images from In the Mood for Love for use in the Film Analysis assignment. Choose one for analysis and focus on the meaning of what's in the frame. This will entatil putting the formal elements of m-e-s into narrative context.

Remember, you only need to do a Film Analysis for two of the three films in this second group. In the Mood for Love is the second film in this group.

At 3:02:

MoodForLove3mins02secs

At 3:45:

MoodForLove3mins45secs

At 21:23:

MoodForLove21mins23secs

At 43:14:

MoodForLove43mins14secs

At 50:57:

MoodForLove50mins57secs

At 51:17:

MoodForLove51mins17secs

At 56:01:

MoodForLove56mins01secs

At 73:20:

MoodForLove73mins20secs

At 90:28:

MoodForLove90mins28secs


The puppets

The one question from the preview for Being John Malkovich that we did not address at all in class is the one about puppets and puppeteers:

What is the narrative purpose of making Craig a puppeteer? What is the semiotic function or effect of the repeated references to puppets and puppeteering? How do these relate to your understanding of mind/body relationships in the film?


Comparing novel spaces

Think some more about how the memory space in Eternal Sunshine can be related to either the full scale digital space in The Matrix and the shared dream space in Inception. Are the "patients" in Eternal Sunshine more like the self-aware agents in the matrix or the subjects of Cobb's team's shared dreams? Are the Lacuna techs & Howard like the Dreamer/Architect in Inception? Is the relationship between material space and memory space more like that between the "real world" and the matrix or that between material space and dream space in Inception? Do the movies have signs in common to show these relationships?


Minds and bodies in THE MATRIX

Continue our discussion of mind/body relationships (or, as noted in class, relationships between mind and bodies - digital and "real"). How do the film makers use character bodies to signify differences in the space of the matrix and the space of the real? For you, what are the most effective devices used to show the relationship between mind, digital body, and material body? By the end of the film, how has Neo reconfigured that relationship to do things that no one else can do? By reference to the film text, can you offer an explanation for how or why he is able to do this?


Extreme close-ups in 12 MONKEYS

There are a number of extreme close-ups of James, both as a kid and as an adult, in 12 Monkeys. These shots are focused on his eyes, which virtually fill the screen. What is the significance of these shots, and, even more particularly, what is the significance of using this shot for both versions of Cole? The film makers also feature one, similarly composed, extreme close up of Kathryn. She is waking up, shortly after having been "rescued" from James. What is the significance of this shot? (Looking back over my notes, I was thinking of the use of canted angles for Kathryn).

NOTE: I will try to get screengrabs posted by the beginning of next week. Now, see below.

YoungColeXCU

AdultColeXCU
 


Applying semiotics to MEMENTO & THE LOOKOUT

To practice semiotics, choose one sign that the film makers in either case use to show how Leonard or Chris orient themselves in time and space. Break that sign down into its main components, signifier and signified, or take your analysis even further by discussing the sign in terms of its denotative and connotative meanings and/or what kind of sign it is - metaphorical, metonymic, synecdochical. 


Preview for THE LOOKOUT.

Here are keywords and questions to think about as we view The Lookout (2007).

  1. Keywords: space, outwardlookingness, the body. How does the accident change Chris' mind/body, and how do those changes alter his relations with others? What does this mean for his space? Think about these questions in terms of semiotics. How do the film makers signify these changes in Chris' space, or in the relations between Chris and others?
  2. Keywords: place, traces, the body. What traces or devices does Chris use to place himself in time and space? How successful are these strategies? Again, how do the film makers signify Chris' ability to navigate in time and space?
  3. Keywords: place, space, outwardlookingness. Compare Chris to Leonard in Memento. How are their conditions similar? How are they different? What are the similarities and differences in how they attempt to place themselves in time and space? How do their relations with others differ? Do others relate to them in similar ways? What signs would you point to from the two films to highlight these similarities and differences?