Media Language

Plan:

Sound design – soundbridge of wife speaking on phone as Andy returns home – shows both are happening at the same time. Non diegetic composed score when finger is revealed builds tension and fear in audience

Mise en scene – woman in pyjamas – shows how late she has been waiting for her husband. He is in dark clothes – represents death. Light colour palette of natural setting – symbolic of the peace in his life /serenity of allotment. Blocking – he stands over wife when they argue – he is in control

Editing – the rapid frequency editing of the dog sniffing at the finger builds up pace and tension. Contrasts slow pace at the beginning. Jump cut of finger to woman on phone – different setting – change in pace, hints that it is her finger before events unfold

Camerawork- low angle shot of man – shows his power over his wife. Close up of finger reveals to audience what he’s hiding Semiology is an approach that can be used to understand how media texts make meaning for their audience. Signs are not limited to words – include images, gestures and sounds Denotation – the literal meaning of an object (what can be visually seen – woman in her pyjamas) Connotation – the associations that are made when interpreting a sign (how late she’s been waiting for husband to return)

Essay

Media language explores the ways in which filmmakers deliberately create meaning within their films, which audience members then decode, either consciously or subconsciously. Semiotics explores the signs and symbols that can be decoded from these media languages. My A2 coursework was a 5 minute thriller film about a man who murdered his wife and buried her under his allotment, called Green Fingers.

Sound design is a method in which meaning was encoded into Green Fingers. For example, through the use of non diegetic score throughout the film, different moods are conveyed to the audience. At the beginning of the film, there is a lighthearted and joyful tone to the compiled score. This choice of music is symbolic of happiness and creates a sense of serenity for the audience, perhaps suggesting the relaxing nature of the allotment and the calm felt by the main character. Whilst enjoying the relaxing shots of nature, the audience initially thinks little of it, but on reflection having seen the final scene of the film, it is clear that this relaxed attitude is because he can enjoy his passion without needing to worry about his wife any longer. The peaceful music at the beginning of the film contrasts the tense music when the dog is digging in the soil. Through the increase in volume, the audience feel fear and suspense towards what will be revealed in the soil, thus contrasting the tone of both the score and the action at the start of the film with the climax. The diegetic soundbridge featured when Andy returns home from the allotment creates anticipation for the audience, as the wife is discussing how little Andy is home on the phone as the audience can see him leaving his car and walking towards their home. The soundbridge also creates suspense as it is clear through the wife’s dialogue that she is upset towards his behaviour, thus suggesting that an argument may pursue and hinting towards why there is a finger under the man’s allotment.

 

Mise-en-scene also plays a vital role in encoding meaning into my A2 coursework, as it allows audiences to visually decode what is viewed on screen and to begin to understand the symbolism and meaning of what has been encoded. For example, costume allows the audience to understand the semiology of each outfit choice. When Andy returns home from the allotment his wife is seen wearing pyjamas; this could simply denote the time of night, or with further reading her costume could connote that she has been awaiting for her husband to come home for a long time. The way she is physically sat further enforces her lack of ease, as she does not look as if she is relaxing in her own home and therefore is anxiously anticipating his arrival. The light colour pallette of the natural setting is also symbolic of the lead characters peace in his life or the calm setting of the allotment. When contrasted with the dark costume of Andy, his costume has connotations of death thus symbolising his dark secret buried under the serene allotment.

Through the use of editing, the tension and plot of the short film is driven to create suspense and excitement in the audience. The rapid frequency of editing when the finger is uncovered and Andy shouts at the woman and her dog builds the pace of the film and makes the audience feel on edge. This rapid editing foreshadows the anger at the end of the film, and reveals Andy’s aggressive nature, thus symbolising that he is the reason for the finger in his allotment. By considering semiotics, the audience can denote that the shots in the scene change rapidly, but the connotations of this enforce that Andy’s emotions are becoming more fuelled with anger and therefore fearful of what will follow. This scene is then contrasted with a jump cut of the finger in the soil, to a shot of Andy’s wife sat on the sofa. By featuring long paced shots with a flow frequency, the film conotes the woman’s upset emotion and therefore creates empathy in the audience. The jump cut also suggests that the finger in the soil belongs to the wife, thus foreshadowing the climax of the film which creates suspense for the viewer.

The camerawork in Green Fingers contains a great deal of symbolism to be decoded by audiences. For example, the close up of the finger when it is in the soil conotes its importance to the drive in the plot, and also creates shock in the viewer as it is unexpected for a kind character like Andy to have a body under his allotment. Also, during the argument between Andy and his wife denotes low angled shots of Andy contrasted with high angle shots of his wife. However, this conotes the power in this relationship, suggesting that Andy is the one in control and the more dominant person in the marriage.

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One thought on “Media Language

  1. Chloe

    The following is the exam board’s description of a level 4 answer, from the June 2012 mark scheme http://hijackersandconverts.com/a2-g325-june-2012/:

    Level 4 (21-25 marks).

    Candidates demonstrate a clear understanding of theories of media language and associated media theory and can relate concepts articulately to the production outcome, describing specific elements in relation to theoretical ideas about how media texts communicate. Candidates offer a broad range of specific, relevant, interesting and clear examples of how their product can be understood in relation to relevant theories of media language. The use of conceptual language is excellent.

    Complex issues have been expressed clearly and fluently using a style of writing appropriate to the complex subject matter. Sentences and paragraphs, consistently relevant, have been well structured, using appropriate technical terminology. There may be few, if any, errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar

    I would mark your current answer as being Level 3, possibly 15/25.

    General stuff, for everyone:
    – Part of your answer should focus on how your film uses camerawork, sound design, editing, and mise-en-scene to create meaning. This is easy, because you made the film, but it means expectations are high. You have to say something thoughtful, meaningful and convincing if you are to be awarded a decent mark.
    – Remember, you are writing from an observer’s rather than a filmmaker’s point of view. You should not write about the decisions you made but about the results that a viewer can observe.
    – The other half of your essay must focus on semiotics. Using theorists names is not so important in this essay, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with waffle…

    Specific to you:
    – This starts really well, Chloe, but trails off a bit towards the end. Your paragraph on sound design is excellent but the way you have combined the next three paragraphs with semiotics has the effect of diluting both elements – you don’t have enough detail about camerawork, editing and mise-en-scene or about semiotics.
    – You need to explain connotation and denotation to show your own understanding.
    – Follow the following rough paragraph plan: intro, camerawork, sound design, editing, mise-en-scene, semiotics (multiple paragraphs), end.

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