Cinema As A Sign System

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Cinema as a sign system

The combination of auditory and visual elements is essential in cinema semiotics. The quality of the cinematographic code lies in the unique combination of the different codes that are common to other expressive media such as the theater, comic, photography, among others. This uniqueness of cinema is found in its own heterogeneity, Casetti and Di Chio (1994) indicate: “The only true particularity that should be insisted is what is related to the way in which each film mixes its components, all its components”(P.75). Next, the functions of the elements of the cinematographic code will be explained.

On the one hand, the introduction of sound as one more component of cinema forced a restructuring of the film system. First, the sound components of the film are divided into noise, music and articulated verbal language. Bordwell, d. and Thompson, K (1995) point out: "These sounds can belong to the interior of fiction or be external to it". These sound elements can fulfill various functions such as expanding the space beyond the edges of the film plane, such as the "OFF Sound" that introduces spaces not represented in the image. Second, the components are a bond of union between the images that appear, accentuating or attenuating the discontinuity between them. Sound is equivalent to writing punctuation marks with words, it can also intensify, modify or clarify the meaning of images.

On the other hand, film discourse combines an oral and written image and word. First, words have a delimiting function, specifying the meaning of the image, through the contribution of information or values that the image cannot express. The graphic notations that appear on the film tape, provide space-time locations of a sequence, give a verbal summary of what happened or announce something that will happen. Second, every film tells a story that is formed from cinematographic plans, according to Jean Mitry, which would be equivalent to a set of phrases. When the plans are joined, a scene is formed; if several scenes are ordered, a story is told. In a film, the story can be counted with continuity, from beginning to end. But you can also tell parallel stories, mixing on the screen two stories that happen at the same time, or jumping to the past or the future.

In conclusion, we can affirm that relationships between articulated language and film language can be established. In addition, we can conclude that not all cinematographic language can be explained through articulated language, because cinema has its own codes that make it specific.These refer to codes related to image mobility, the combination of visual and auditory elements and the treatment of space and time. Finally, it is demonstrated that semiotic concepts help to better explain the components of cinematographic language. 

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