Group 1: Dark Summer

Preliminary Group 2C: Pens

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Film Theory: Task 2

Task 2: Barthes Analysis of 'Don't Look Now'

Roland Barthes was initially a structuralist thinker, but over time his ideas about narrative theory changed. In his essay 'S.Z..' he identified a set of codes which he proposed were linked together in productions of all stories:

  1. Action Code: depicts the events- who,where, when.
  2. Semantic Code: refers to characters/characterisation.
  3. Enigma Code: involves the setting up of mystery, it's development and resolution.
  4. Referential Code: involves explaining or informing. e.g. mise-en-scene
  5. Symbolic Code: reading connotations of signs which transfers them into symbolic representation.
Semantic Code:
  • little girl in red raincoat-important character
  • couple and boy-the couple are shown to be parents of the children-they are shown a lot so will obviously play pivotal roles throughout the film
  • the father is shown more than the woman-is he more important than her? Why is she so withdrawn? Why is he the one who realises something is wrong?
  • the tragic moment where the young girl dies is obviously important as it disrupts the equilibrium and will set a chain of events into action will will inevitably add to the storyline.
Action Code:
  • The first character shown is the young girl and the audience focus on her playing, showing her youth and importance in the plot.
  • The couple seem normal and happy but when the ink runs from the photograph, we see that something is wrong. The father immediatly senses this which shows he is clever and aware which connotes that he may have more to add to the story later.
Enigma Code:

  • the colour red (raincoat, photo, bicycle, seems to be an on-going symbol throughout the sequence. It is associated with blood, murder, passion, love. Maybe these will be present later in the film.
Referential Code:
  • The scene shows a large house with grass and a stream outside. This shows that the family is quite wealthy. We do not see a lot of the house, though, which could suggest that it is not very important or will not be featured much later on.
  • Even though it appears to be a normal day, strange things such as the ink running from the photo and the boy breaking the window could suggest disturbances and other things out of the ordinary may happen.
  • As the girl is rescued (albiet to late), her father is dirty and distressed, showing that he could be very connected to his daughter and his muddy clothes symbolise that he may be going into 'dangerous waters' later.
Symbolic Code:

  • The most obvious symbols are of death, danger and sorrow. The colour red connotes blood, anger, danger, murder etc. As the girl is dressed in red and then dies, we are confirmed that death is significant.
  • The photographs being ruined also suggest that bad things will happen throughout the film, even if they are quite small.