Motion pictures or films have come up to be one ofthe most popular form of art in the cultural domain of the entire world and thepast century has seen massive growth in the medium. The aesthetic richness andvast influence of this art form has made it the need of the day to look intothe communicative nature of films and how it influences the human mind. Humanbeings not only find entertainment from movies, but also see it as a very highform of artistic representation.
In this situation, the present work seeks toinvestigate the ay meaning is represented and processed in film. Filmsevoke emotions, are used as propaganda, spread information and awareness andalso document the reality. There are specific techniques which are involved inthe filmmaking procedure to encapsulate or to construct stimuli which arecrucial in attaining the purpose. In fact, it is noticed that the avant garde too cannot escape from theinvolvement of the basic techniques and structures which are involved infilmmaking. The problem related to structural and structuring aspect of filminghas become more complex as it involves both the visual and aural stimulus alongwith the gesticulations and background music, lighting, editing and so on whichcreates a mesh of physical form of communication and technical manipulation.
Theresearch has to progress in the avenue which would be able to identify howpeople understand all these things in amalgamation to each other to make senseof the film. It involves very complex cognitive functions on the part of theaudience and there has to be an attempt at having a clear understanding of howhuman beings cognize films. It is as complex as the understanding of theexperiences of real life, if not more. 1.2 What is film?Filmis also known as motion picture or movie and consists of numerous still imageswhich get portrayed on the screen thus creating an illusion of moving imagesowing to phi phenomenon.
Phi phenomenon is a kind of optical illusion. Whathappens is that people perceive continuous motion though they view separateobjects in quick succession. Max Wertheimer defined phi phenomenon in Gestaltpsychology in the year 1912. Phiphenomenon is not to be confused with beta movement. In phi phenomenon, thedifferent images or lights are at the same place while in the beta movement theimages or lights are in locations which are different from each other.
However,in both of these cases, the images or lights get turned off and on very rapidlyto produce the effect. Thus phi phenomenon is a form of optical illusion whichcompels the audience to perceive continuous change in the visual field on thescreen. This, in turn, creates an illusion of motion, though motion is a caseof imposition here. A motion picture camera is used to photograph the actualscenes. Animationtechniques (by means of Computer Generated Imagery or CGI and computeranimation) can also be used in making films. Other visual effects can also beinvolved in the filmmaking process in unison with the other techniques.
Theentire process of filmmaking can be seen as an art as well as an industry.Plastic film is used to record the images and these images are shown through afilm projector onto a large screen. In modern techniques, filming and storageis carries out digitally. The Red One camera is such a device which records theimages on hard disk drives or flash cards.
Anotherinclusion in films is optical soundtrack which is actually a graphic recordingof the words that are spoken along with the music and other sounds (ambient ordubbed) that accompany the images which are shown on the screen. This runsalong a portion of the film which is actually exclusively reserved for it andis not projected.Therelationship between films and culture is one major aspect which needs to be takeninto account. Films are cultural artifacts which reflect the markers of therespective cultural domains in which they are made. As a form of art, filmsalso influence the very culture which they reflect. Films are also consideredto be one of the most popular forms of art in the entire world and also a modeof entertainment.
Films are a very useful tool of spreading education orcarrying out indoctrination among the masses. Itis the visual basis of the films which renders omnipotent power of communicationto the medium which ranges across cultures and societies. Dubbing or the use ofsubtitles make films travel across the geographical and lingual boundaries andreach out to the masses all across the globe. Thus, film as a form of art hasthe most extensive reach among the masses across the world and this reachtranscends any other form of art.Afilm is made up of individual images which are known as frames. During theprocedure of projection, there is a rotating shutter which leads to theintervals of darkness as every frame in turn is moved into the position to beprojected. However, the viewer fails to notice these interruptions due to theeffect which is known as persistence of vision.
In persistence of vision, theeye retains a visual image even after the source is removed for a fraction of asecond. The psychological effect which makes the audience perceive the motionis known as beta movement.Theterm ‘film’ comes from the fact that the film stock or the photographic filmhas been the medium for recording and showing the movies. The other terms whichare prevalent for individual motion picture are moving picture, picture show,flick and photoplay.1.2.1Film as a form of communicationFilmis essentially a form of communication as it is also a popular form ofentertainment.
Films are catered to the masses on the large screens ortelevisions. Stuart Hall in his seminal essay, Encoding, Decoding goes on to opine that the process of making afilmic text involves encoding the various cultural markers of the culturaldomain which then reach the masses. It is totally on the people watching thefilm how they would communicate with the film which they see. They eventuallydecode the information and interpret the information accordingly. They mightsupport and comply with the things which are being communicated, they mightpartly comply or they might reject. Thus,the communication which occurs via films is quite a complex one and it needs tobe investigated. It has to be reminisced that communication through films isdone on a massive scale as a single film is shown to thousands across theglobe.
Therefore, exploring communication through film from an interculturalperspective could be a challenging task for the scholars. A film which is madein a cultural domain will have the cultural markers and attributes of thatsociety. When it is viewed by the audience from another part of the world, heor she needs to comprehend the film in the context of the society in which heor she is dwelling. Or it might be so that the film is seen as a reflection ofthe particular cultural domain from where it belongs. As such, it might be seenas a representative one of that culture in which it has been made. 1.3 What is cognition?Theproblems involved in cognizing a film is thus a major challenge for the presentresearch work in this domain. It becomes a very interesting avenue of study tounderstand the various factors which are involved in the procedure ofunderstanding films.
It is believed that the cognition of films is similar oreven more complex in comparison to our comprehension of the environment aroundus. Theprocess by which sensory input is used, transformed, elaborated, reduced,stored and recovered is known as cognition. In the discourse of science,cognition is the mental process which is constituted of the attention ofworking memory, language comprehension and production, reasoning, calculation,decision making and problem solving. Cognition is studied by variousdisciplines like psychology, philosophy and linguistics. But, the use of theterm differs across the various disciplines. In cognitive science andpsychology, the word ‘cognition’ refers to the information processing capacityof an individual. In the discourse of social psychology, the word is used to explainattribution, attitudes and group dynamics. On the other hand, in cognitivepsychology and cognitive engineering, the word is used to mean the informationprocessing in the operator’s or person’s brain.
Cognitionis essentially the faculty for the processing of information, changingpreferences and applying knowledge. Cognitive processes or cognition can beartificial or natural and conscious or unconscious. All these processes getanalyzed from different perspectives in the contexts of linguistics, psychiatry,anesthesia, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, anthropology, systemics, andcomputer science. 1.4 What is language?Theaim of cognitive scientists in studying language is to describe and account forthe systematicity, structure and functions of language and how all of thesementioned functions get realized by the language system.
But, a very importantreason for studying language remains in the fact that it is assumed thatlanguage reflects the patterns of thought. Thus, studying language from thisparticular perspective would mean studying the patterns of conceptualization.One can very well get insights into the structure, nature and organization ofthoughts and ideas of the human mind through studying language.
There is abasic difference in the approach of cognitive scientists in the study oflanguage in comparison to scholars from other discourses. This lies in theiropinion that language reflects certain fundamental properties and designfeatures of the mind of human beings. This assumption has major implicationsfor the methodology, scope and models which have been developed within thedomain of cognitive linguistics. A very important feature to judge a model oflanguage is to comprehend whether it is psychologically plausible. Humanbeings rely on language to perform various works in life, but still they takelanguage for granted.
Every daily activity which is performed by human beingsdepends on the use of language as a form of essential communication. The entiresocietal structure would be jeopardized in the absence of communication amongthe members of the society. Language is the greatest tool for communicationamong the people. In every situation, language plays the role of the most quickand effective expression and is a way of encoding and transmitting ideas whichare complex and subtle.
The notions of encoding and transmitting are of greatimportance as they are linked to two very key functions which are related tolanguage. These are the symbolic function and the interactive function.1.4.1Interactive aspect of cognitionLanguageserves the function of interaction in our everyday social lives.
Language doesnot merely pair forms and meanings. These pairings of forms and meanings shouldbe comprehensible and accessible to other people who belong to the community.The main function of any language is to get the idea across to others and carryout the process of communication.
The process of communication involves thetransmission by the speaker and then the decoding or interpretation by thehearer. The two processes are thus constituted of the construction of richconceptualizations.Languagecan be utilized to create frames or scenes of experience, indexing and also toconstruct particular context.
Thus, it can be opined that language use mightinvoke such frames which summon rich knowledge structures that make one recalland fill in the background knowledge. Thus, it is safe to say that languagedoes not only encode particular meanings, but it goes on to carry out aninteractive function as it symbolizes the meanings which are a part of theshared knowledge in a community1.4.2Symbolic function of cognitionOneof the greatest functions of language is to the put forward the ideas andthoughts. This means that language actually encodes and externalizes thethoughts of human beings. This is done by language by the utilization of symbolswhich are ‘bits of language.’ These bits can be meaningful subparts of wordslike prefix in a word (for example dis- as in disrespect) or whole words (likefun, run, etc.
) or also a string of words which might constitute a sentence.All these symbols consist of forms which can be written, spoken or signed andthey have meanings with what these forms get paired in the conventional sense.A symbol is better referred to as symbolic assembly since there are two partswhich are associated conventionally (Langacker 1987). Expressed differently,the symbolic assembly which we are discussing about is a pairing of form andmeaning.Aform can actually be a sound or the orthographic representation that is seen onwritten pages or also a signed gesture which is in a sign language.
The meaningis the semantic content or the conventional ideational which is associated withthe symbol. It is extremely important to comprehend that the cat which is shownin the figure above is intended to represent the idea of a cat and not aparticular referent in the world of our experience. The image thus is actuallythe representation of the meaning which is paired conventionally with the formin English Kæt. Conceptsget derived from percepts, in turn.
For example, one might consider an apple asa piece of fruit. The different parts of the human brain perceive the shape,texture, color, taste, smell and all these attributes. Thus, a diverse range ofperceptual information is gathered by us from the world we live in and theseare all integrated into one mental image which is a representation available toour consciousness. This mental image leads us to have the concept of an APPLE.
When language is used and the form apple is uttered, the symbol actuallycorresponds to the conventional meaning. Thus, this links us to the conceptrather than to a physical object directly which is present in the externalworld.Thecognitive abilities of human beings go on to integrate the raw perceptualinformation in the form of well-defined and coherent mental image.
The meaningswhich get encoded by the linguistic symbols actually refer to the projectedreality (Jackendoff, 1983) which is a mental representation of reality. Thismental representation of reality is construed by the mind and plays a crucialrole in mediating between what one sees and what one knows in a given point ofspace and time. Thesymbolic function of language is to encode and externalize what one knows. So,symbolic function of language is clearly linked with the process ofconceptualization. Language in general is a tool to conceptualize the worldaround us. By conceptualization, we intend both production and comprehension ofthe reality.
Since reality is always in flux, any form of language should haveenough potential to represent as well as to process infinite aspects of theprojected reality. In contrast, human mind as an information processing systemis finite. It is argued by the famous scholars that in spite of being a finitesystem human mind as well as the human language have enough potential to encodeand to process infinite number of realities in the virtue of being generative.In other words, language is merely a prompt for the construction of aconceptualization which is richer and more elaborate than the meanings whichare actually minimal being provided by language (Fauconnier 1997).
Thus, whatis encoded by language is not complex in itself, but it can be seen as therudimentary instructions to the conceptual system to create and access ideaswhich are rich and elaborated.1.5 How does film stand in relation to language andcognition?Filmcan be taken as a form of language and it is very complex in nature. Film has allthe features of a language and it requires high level of cognitive processingto cognize films. Films are shot and then constructed so that they can makesome meaning on the screen. But, it is up to the audience to comprehend thefilms and make sense of cinema and this cognition and understanding requiresengagement. The scenes and sequences provide external stimuli to the audiencewho has come to see the movie and the audience makes up the meaning of themovie in their mind. Moreover, the complexity of cultural boundaries come intoplay while cognizing films.
Justlike normal language, films have encoded messages as mentioned earlier in thechapter. These messages are carried in the movies and it is the onus of thespectators to decode them. Films externalize thoughts of the makers and quitelike language the film communicates this externalization of thoughts andexpressions to the masses. The audience understands the film byconceptualization of the ideas which are communicated via this medium of art andaesthetics.1.6 ObjectivesTheprimary objective of the work is to understand film as a language and take thelimelight on the attempts which have been made in the scholarly discourse tostudy cinema as a form of art. Film as a form of art is new, but has developedand advanced enormously since the time of its inception in 1895. In theseyears, films have come forward to take the place of most popular form ofentertainment and refined form of art at the same time.
Itis aimed to comprehend various theories which are there to explain films andhow they fall short of their aim to describe the process of cognition of filmsand thus ascertain a holistic understanding of the phenomenon of film andcognition. Specific models which can explain how films are understood would bedelved deep into to take forward the study in this discourse. The relationsbetween language and film would be further investigated and the links would beestablished to show how film is cognized just like human beings cognize andprocess language in their minds. The complexities of film as a form of artwould be deciphered and the filmic text would be broken down to bring to lightthe structure and content which amalgamate to form the art form.
1.7 A brief description of the chaptersWhilethe first chapter has endeavored tobring forth the apparent similarities between language system and cinema, thenext chapter would investigate further into the avenue of film and cognition. Inthe second chapter, the cumulativeknowledge of film analysis and comprehension would be discussed thoroughly.
Thevarious theories which have emerged in the due course of time in the domain offilm studies try to explain the cinematic text from different perspectives. Theshortcomings of these theories can be understood in juxtaposition to the workof the cognitivists which has been discussed as well. Inthe third chapter, it has beendiscussed how cognitive linguistics is relevant in the study of film as a formof communication. This entails a detailed description of the development of thediscourse of cognitive linguistics and the various principles which areinvolved in the representation and processing of information in the human mind.Another very important aspect has been looked into in this chapter. This is themeaning construction in language and films. The similarity of the processes ishighlighted and the links are established with details.
Inthe fourth chapter, the cognitiveapproach to film is researched properly to give a clear view of the matter. Filmis actually a complex form of text and the different forms of texts have to bedifferentiated to make one understand the intricate levels of the filmic textand the multi-modal nature of experience which film provides its audienceswith. The chapter further investigates how the filmic text and linguistic textstructurally resemble each other. Both language and film are metaphorical innature and this has been described in details in this part of the thesis.Moreover, film is also a system of signs which needs to be understood.
Thecategorical differences based on this theoretical disposition have also beendiscussed in details in this part of the chapter.