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A pioneer in the field, Christian Metz applies insights of structural linguistics to the language of film. "The semiology of film . . . can be held to date from the publication in 1964 of the famous essay by Christian Metz, 'Le cinéma: langue ou langage?'"—Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Times Literary Supplement "Modern film theory begins with Metz."—Constance Penley, coeditor of Ca A pioneer in the field, Christian Metz applies insights of structural linguistics to the language of film. "The semiology of film . . . can be held to date from the publication in 1964 of the famous essay by Christian Metz, 'Le cinéma: langue ou langage?'"—Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Times Literary Supplement "Modern film theory begins with Metz."—Constance Penley, coeditor of Camera Obscura "Any consideration of semiology in relation to the particular field signifying practice of film passes inevitably through a reference to the work of Christian Metz. . . . The first book to be written in this field, [Film Language] is important not merely because of this primacy but also because of the issues it raises . . . issues that have become crucial to the contemporary argument."—Stephen Heath, Screen


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A pioneer in the field, Christian Metz applies insights of structural linguistics to the language of film. "The semiology of film . . . can be held to date from the publication in 1964 of the famous essay by Christian Metz, 'Le cinéma: langue ou langage?'"—Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Times Literary Supplement "Modern film theory begins with Metz."—Constance Penley, coeditor of Ca A pioneer in the field, Christian Metz applies insights of structural linguistics to the language of film. "The semiology of film . . . can be held to date from the publication in 1964 of the famous essay by Christian Metz, 'Le cinéma: langue ou langage?'"—Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Times Literary Supplement "Modern film theory begins with Metz."—Constance Penley, coeditor of Camera Obscura "Any consideration of semiology in relation to the particular field signifying practice of film passes inevitably through a reference to the work of Christian Metz. . . . The first book to be written in this field, [Film Language] is important not merely because of this primacy but also because of the issues it raises . . . issues that have become crucial to the contemporary argument."—Stephen Heath, Screen

30 review for Film Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    A reading of Ferdinand de Saussure's Course in General Linguistics is a prerequisite for understanding Metz's book, or at least a basic understanding of structural linguistics and semiotics is. This is what makes Metz brilliant and at the same time a complete failure as far as film theorists go. The man's influence is widespread, but it may be in the sense that his writings offer us the sort of eclectic insight that was typical of the Cahiers du Cinema. And Film Language is basically a collectio A reading of Ferdinand de Saussure's Course in General Linguistics is a prerequisite for understanding Metz's book, or at least a basic understanding of structural linguistics and semiotics is. This is what makes Metz brilliant and at the same time a complete failure as far as film theorists go. The man's influence is widespread, but it may be in the sense that his writings offer us the sort of eclectic insight that was typical of the Cahiers du Cinema. And Film Language is basically a collection of his writings from that journal; essays that display a preoccupation with a structural analysis of film grammar and language. Metz's basic theoretical aim is to apply the methods of structural linguistics to an image dependent medium. As is the case with structural linguistics, the whole of any one thing is broken down into its collection of units. With language, a sentence has meaning only after each unit of it is taken into consideration. Saussure once used the chess analogy; each piece's value is determined by its relationship to other pieces on the board. So letters and phonemes basically make up the single word forms (syntagmas) which compose the sentence, and a sequence of sentences make up a paragraph, etc. This of course, is a sort of crash-course explanation, but it gets the basic idea across. So the question then is; how can we apply these concepts to images? Not only that, but with the nature of the medium of cinema in mind; its stylistic evolution (which does not begin with sound, or any sort of phonetic language), how then can Metz apply this methodology in an adequate way? He seems to consider a sequence within a scene to be the, more or less, smallest unit. It seems as though the single image or frame should be. This is where the english translation runs into difficulties with Metz. Sequence basically implies one shot or cut. Within the structure of any given cinematic narrative, these sequences, themselves part of single scenes, provide an entire film with a readable, image-based language. Therefore the cinematic medium provides the viewer with meaning or content (a word that Metz seems to dislike) through a language of images. Of course, Metz's study is slightly more elaborate than this, especially when he discusses questions of semiotics in film. The thing is that, taken in a simplistic light, film language is really just another way of describing the intelligibility of montage. Film theory that is enslaved by a methodological application such as structural linguistics is bound to fail because its initial intention or use was for human language. The cinematic medium is basically too complex to be understood using Saussurian concepts. It's difficult to blame Metz too much though, and his tone is pretty self-effacing throughout this collection of essays. Which in a way, makes Film Language somewhat credulous, or if nothing else, yet another critical application that can be used and subsequently analyzed (itself) by generation after generation of film scholars and cinephiles.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Billy Ryant

    i haven't even read the book cuz i haven't been able to aces it thanks i haven't even read the book cuz i haven't been able to aces it thanks

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jw

    The ideas are pretty much garbage. But it stimulated my thinking back when I first started taking film seriously.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lara Messersmith-Glavin

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rasmus Boserup

  6. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Barcelos

  7. 4 out of 5

    d

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bennet

  9. 4 out of 5

    Meisam Eslami

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marisa Iriarte

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

  12. 4 out of 5

    Irwanto Hamid

  13. 4 out of 5

    Max

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marietha

  15. 5 out of 5

    بلال نورالدين

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dooflow

  17. 5 out of 5

    Donna Bridgette

  18. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Rueda

  19. 4 out of 5

    Vinicius Noronha

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rattkane

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  22. 5 out of 5

    James

  23. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tom Delmar

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael Lew

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Brown

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bruno Dal Molin

  28. 5 out of 5

    Phuong Le

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andy

  30. 5 out of 5

    Holly Bun

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