How Many Points Is A Field Goal Worth In Football ‘That’s Entertainment’: Making Meaning in Films

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‘That’s Entertainment’: Making Meaning in Films

Cinema has become, perhaps after television, the most popular form of visual entertainment in the modern world. Every night, millions of people sit down to watch a movie on television, a movie on video, or a movie on the big screen, in the theater.

Moviegoers leave theaters satisfied with what they have seen, or disappointed, and some have a neutral view of the quality of the film. All, however, have been in communication with the messages presented by the film.

Unlike print, which uses words, or music, which uses sound, the film medium uses several different “tracks” to reach its audience. These are the image, the music, the dialogue, the noise and the written material.

These five are mixed by the producers of the film to form a ‘language’, although this is not the language of the word, the sentence or the text, but the language of signs. The five are projected towards the public, and each one of the five constitutes a sign, a signifier, of something else. The language of cinema is the language of semiotics, the language of signs.

The term ‘signifier’ is used to denote the physical form of the sign. In a movie, this could be a smile, a red light, dramatic music, a scream, or the words of a letter someone is reading. Each one means something, represents something else.

A smile can mean happiness, joy, or love, but it can also signify some kind of triumph for the person smiling. Everyone knows that a red traffic light means ‘STOP’.

Dramatic music could mean that something important is about to happen. A scream usually means danger or pain of some kind, but that may depend on the context in which the scream is heard. Finally, the words in a letter that someone is reading on the screen use the semantics of the language—English, French, or Arabic, for example—in ways we are familiar with. The word ‘dog’, for example, in the English language, represents the canine species so familiar to pet lovers, and that’s despite the fact that there is absolutely nothing ‘dog-like’ about the letters of the word DOG. . The word is also a signifier.

These examples of signifiers and the things they signify, the signifieds, using real elements, the referents, point to several important features of sign language. For signifiers to represent something to an audience, they must be universal enough for all viewers to fully and quickly understand them. A green traffic stop light would confuse everyone.

However, it’s worth noting that filmmakers can use these ‘universals’ to some effect. If a person who has just lost a race smiles at the camera instead of frowning, the audience can be alerted to the fact that something out of the ordinary is going on; that the person intended to lose the race, for a reason that might become apparent later in the film. On a letter, the word ‘DOG’ could become code for ‘SPY’, for example, and this points to yet another facet of the sign, that the context in which it appears helps determine its meaning.

A cry heard at a local football match can mean only that a goal has been scored, in a battle, that someone has been mortally wounded. However, within different contexts, a universality must apply. If not, that particular use of the signifier would seem inappropriate or misleading.

Finding meaning in seemingly meaningless events is a very human trait, and the effect discovered by Lev Kuleshov in the 1920s in the former Soviet Union, and for whom it is named, is that two takes are shown in rapid succession on film. , one after the other. others are not interpreted separately in the mind of the viewer. They are interpreted as causally related. A + B = C, where A and B are the two shots, and C is a new value not originally included in the two shots.

So, for example, if the first shot shows bombs falling from a plane and the second shows a town on fire, the audience will assume that the bombs hit the town and destroyed it.

This agrees with that peculiar characteristic of humans; his search for meaning in elements that would otherwise be meaningless. This also has its equivalent in language. Two sentences appearing one after the other will invariably be treated as being causally connected, even though there is nothing to suggest that.

A: The bombs fell from the plane.

B: The village was completely destroyed..

C: Here it would be assumed that the town was destroyed by the same bombs that fell from the plane. What works in film sometimes also works with language.

In today’s movies this is used to great effect and is reminiscent of film director Alfred Hitchcock’s advice to future filmmakers; “Don’t count, show.” This seems to suggest that the five ‘cues’ of film language are more powerful when used together than simply the spoken word in the film. Even Shakespeare remarked that “the eye is wiser than the ear”, suggesting that we do in fact learn more by being shown than by being told.

In the well-known series of James Bond films, for example, the utter cruelty of the villain, whether he be a megalomaniac or a drug baron, is represented not so much by words about him, but rather by scenes showing an unsuspecting former confidant of her coming to a grizzly end in a tank full of piranhas or something equally nasty and spectacular.

That he is devious in the extreme is shown in the first sequences by the friendly and courteous hospitality shown to the hero of the hour -007.

The scenes in which he shows his true colors come as no surprise to an audience expecting some form of exotic, high-tech brutality from Bond’s adversary.

Those of us who have seen all those movies know exactly what to expect and are never disappointed. In a sense, the ‘language’ of film conveys a communication to us across multiple films, and to that extent, James Bond films can be said to be formulaic and predictable. Giving the public what they want, however, works at the box office; Sequels sell.

In terms of what audiences bring to the movie theater, I guess by far the most important thing is the expectation, the anticipation that what they are about to see in the movie is the same as what they expect. Trailers, commercials, and the modern moviegoer’s near innate knowledge of stars and producers come together to ensure that every industry blockbuster makes money.

More unconsciously, audiences bring what has been called the “willing suspension of disbelief” to the performance, and while this is most evident and most necessary for audiences watching live performances on stage, it is still a vital part of it. of audience participation in the cinema. . Some film theorists point to the fact that a three-dimensional image, with depth and field, is projected onto a two-dimensional screen and still perceived as three-dimensional, as evidence that an audience is willing to suspend some of their disbelief. . The technology of the giants of the film industry is so extraordinary that it makes this statement meaningless.

In the movie ‘Lord of the Rings’, for example, the appearance of massive mammoths in the midst of thousands of fearsome orcs doesn’t really require much of a suspension of disbelief; everyone who watches this wonderful film knows very well that such creatures do not exist anywhere on the planet. Where disbelief must be initially suspended is upon entering Tolkien’s world of dragons, dwarves and hobbits. The total universe of Middle-earth is projected in a more subtle way. The inability to be fully absorbed in this world may interfere with the enjoyment gained from watching the movie, or it may prevent that person from seeing the movie in the first place.

Art is not nature, art holds up a mirror to nature, or so we are told, but it is holding up and choosing which part of nature is reflected that makes the film so fascinating and meaningful. People who watch the film in the splendid isolation of the darkened theater are enjoying a form of entertainment in which this one-way communication operates, bringing to the scene only what they can: their participation in the culture in which they inhabit and their desire to to know that they are not alone in this world.

It is this identification with the film’s characters that makes it difficult to critically assess it. Bertolt Brecht knew this and took steps to prevent it, but Hollywood revels in it. More identification with the protagonist(s) sells more tickets. Save critical theory for college media studies courses. ‘Not a dry eye in the house’ is the goal of every successful film director.

Suspense, letting the audience know something the person on the screen doesn’t, is one of the many devices skilled directors use. The screams heard when the woman is stabbed in the shower in the Hitchcock classic; ‘psycho’ probably had nothing to do with the amount of pain inflicted by the knife. The public can’t really imagine that. The screams were provoked by the commotion of the situation; the extreme levels of identification with the victim, the feeling of helplessness of the victim on the screen or of the audience outside, unable to stop the attack.

So why do people willingly go see a movie that they know, even hope, will terrify them?

They are experiencing something outside of their full range of experience, and they are also doing so comfortably. They are alone, even in a packed theater. The cinema is not a community event, it is individualized. In the cinema, the public is kept enthralled, in a way that is rarely possible watching television or a video on television. The movie on the big screen cannot be stopped. The drama unfolds with or without your presence, and few people leave in the middle of a movie. That’s entertainment!

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