Week 2: Introduction to Semiology – Unit 4


In this task I’ll be researching into what semiology is and how it affects the way we perceive the visuals on screen. I will also be getting some examples of semiology from movies and talking about the different rules of composition used in them.

What is Semiology?

Semiology is the study of symbols and signs and how they are interpreted. It is usually conveyed in the way of signifier/signified. The signifier is the signs physical form, for example the colour of red. Then the signified is what we interpret, so the colour red can mean danger or love. Depending on the context of the situation the meaning can change.

Matsurah Well [1]

This shot is from “Lawrence of Arabia” and has many Rules of Composition and Framing. It is a wide shot (WS), and both characters are focused on the figure in the background which draws our attention to it. The shot uses vertical rule of thirds for both characters in the foreground and horizontally for the figure in the background. There is also leading lines used in the shot to draw our attention to the subject in the background. It is also Looking into space. The figure in the background looks completely covered in black/shade, this is the signifier. The signified is that there is an air of mystery around this character, as we can literally not see any details about him . He could be friend or foe, so therefore our brain doesn’t really know what to interpret.

Schindler's List [2]

This shot is from “Schindler’s List”. This is a long shot and attention is draw to the little girl in the red coat, as it is the only piece of colour in the whole shot. The colour red is used as a symbol for Life and Death. This is the signifier, a symbol for the pain and suffering felt by all the Jews around her, but also a symbol of life, as she is going unnoticed by the Nazis. This is the signified, as it is the interpretation that people will do subconsciously whilst watching. The shot uses rule of thirds, as the little girl is on the cross-section of the line. The denotation signified of this shot is that the little girl in the red coat is in danger, however the connotation signified could be that she is alive and not being hurt, when everyone else around her is in pain and suffering.

Saving-Private-Ryan-5 [3]

This shot is from “Saving Private Ryan”. It is a Medium Close Up (MCU). It uses Depth of Field to focus on Captain Miller’s face and body, whilst having the gun out of focus, as we are supposed to be focusing on his emotions and the wound he has sustained. It is using rule of thirds on his face and gun.The only thing out of focus in the shot is the gun, the denotation of this could be that they’re trying to show all the emotion in Tom Hanks face, as he is dying, however the connotation could be portraying the idea that now he’s reached the end of his life the guns don’t matter and the violence never mattered.


Whilst doing this task I learnt about the different rules of composition that I didn’t know about before, like leading lines and depth of field, however I already knew some things like rule of thirds, but it was a good refresher anyway.

[1] Lawrence of Arabia. (1962). [DVD] David Lean. At: http://www.deepfocusreview.com/reviews/lawrenceofarabia.asp. Accessed: 29th September 2015

[2] Schindler’s List. (1993). [DVD] Steven Spielberg. At: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/mar/04/schindlers-list-actor-traumatised-by-film. Accessed: 29th September 2015

[3] Saving Private Ryan. (1998). [DVD] Steven Spielberg. At: https://drafthouse.com/show/saving-private-ryan. Accessed: 29th September 2015

Week 2: Introduction to Semiology – Unit 4

2 thoughts on “Week 2: Introduction to Semiology – Unit 4

  1. Oct 4 – Jenni B – again George, a really nicely structured post, and everything you have said is correct, but you have not used any technical terms such as denotation or connotation – check your glossary. This can be added to, so that it meets the criteria. You must tag correctly.


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