260 – Task 4

Task Four

21/10/13 This week, we have been set the task of making a tutorial video about a certain film theory in small groups. We have been given Structuralist Film Theory and have to create a film that explains this to beginners in a fun and interesting way. The first step – as with the previous weeks task – is to research this theory before going any further. So far I have found only a few facts about Structuralist film theory, one of these being that it is closely linked to semiotics. The people I will be researching are CS Pearse, Metz and Marmet as well as reading from Culture Theory – The Key Concepts and Key Themes in Media Theory.

Culture Theory – The Key Concepts

In this book, they talk about Binary Opposition and Parole and Langue, which link in with semiotics. From what I understand so far, structuralist film theory is what is going on on the screen and the meanings behind everything, say a women was carrying a handbag and pushing a pushchair, that is what we SEE, but looking deeper into that, we ASSUME that she is a house wife, who stays at home to bring up the children. This can then also be taken deeper by the way society tells us she is a stay at home Mum, and how we make those connections just be looking at an image.

Key Themes in Media Theory

This book explains in an easier way the meaning behind structuralism and semiotics. This book talks a lot about Saussure and Barthes (listed below) and their theories on this subject. From this book, I understand that structuralist theory is about how things are perceived in an image. It is about how people view certain things. The book uses helpful examples from Barthes work where he talks about a French magazine cover with the image of a black soldier, who appears to be pointing upward, we assume he is pointing towards a flag. This image is significant because of the black man on the cover, suggesting that France is a diverse country, open to all races and religions. The meaning of this image would change dramatically if say, a women, or a black women, or a white male (and so on) were on the front cover. Meaning is the key word here, as everything in cinema is placed there for a reason, and structuralist film theory is the meaning behind the reason. These books gave me a list of further reading, so I will also be looking into the following people:

  • Ferdunand De Saussure

Ferdunand De Saussure was mentioned a number of times, he wrote a famous book about linguistics and the science of signs, which relates closely to the structuralist film theory. He felt that all things can be determined through meaning. He would be a key person to mention in our video, and to research further.

  • Roland Barthes

Barthes theorised in philosophy, linguistics, critics and semiotics. His focussed on revealing the importance of language

  • Roman Jakobson

Jakobson was influenced by Saussure and talked about the structural analysis of language.

  • Claude Levi-Strauss

Claude was an anthropologist, he has a book – Tristes Tropiques – which talks about his theories and research.  (Also see The Elementary Structures of Kinship.) He focussed more on human relationships and the structure behind that, but this can be applied to film.

  • Jacques Derrida

Derrida formed a semiotic analysis called deconstruction. He was a post-structuralism figure, but may still be interesting to look into. Other Influential Figures:

Hitchcock Theory on Structuralist Film Theory

Structuralist Theory Notes

Structuralism and Semiotics

Video structure:


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