Analyzing the symbolic significance of Angelopoulos’ films from the perspective of semiotics

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Hanzhang Dong

Abstract: Symbolic communication is an interdisciplinary field that investigates the meaning and function of symbols in the communication process. Within the framework of symbolic communication studies, symbols are seen as tools individuals employ to convey meanings and values. As a crucial cultural artifact and visual medium, film combines various symbolic elements—including imagery, sound, and plot—to create a distinctive and intricate symbolic system, thus conveying specific meanings through symbol construction. In the films of Angelopoulos, the allure of “symbolic symbolism” is reflected through flowing long shots, captivating mise-en-scène, the manipulation of time, layered spaces with poetic overlays, a blank film reel, the emergence of a giant sculpture hand from the sea, thundering trains, alienating narrative structures, obscure metaphorical symbols, and unique poetic aesthetics. These key elements encompass the crux of deciphering Angelopoulos’ films. The analysis of symbolic symbolism in Angelopoulos’ films can be approached from different perspectives.Firstly, one can utilize the basic model of symbolic communication as a framework for research. This model encompasses six elements that constitute any communicative event. These consist the elements of the speaker and listener, who are the primary participants in symbolic communication. The element of information represents the content conveyed through symbols. Code elements give form to information. In the process of communication, not only the information itself is needed, but also contact elements are needed. Contact media can take various forms. Additionally, both speaker and listener must share a context within which the transmitted information can be comprehended. In the context of Angelopoulos’ films, the films themselves function as the “speaker,” while the audience assumes the role of the “listener”. Furthermore, the specific film products and services constitute the information being communicated, embodying the purpose and communication needs. Contact pertains to the media and settings employed in film communication, while codes encompass the symbolic forms of film, such as words, sounds, images, and colors. Symbolic communication in film is additionally influenced by cultural, social, and historical backgrounds, which may cause symbols to assume differing meanings and interpretations within contexts and for distinct cultural audiences. Secondly, Bakhtin’s theory of symbols suggests that symbolic cognition involves a process of decoding, which comprises four cognitive stages: symbol perception, conceptual cognition, contextual cognition, and dynamic dialogue. By analyzing the narrative structure employed in Angelopoulos’ films, one can construct a word cloud of pertinent cognition through semi-structured interviews and literature research. This approach yields a discussion of the specific visual, tactile, auditory, gustatory, and other symbolic symbolism techniques utilized within the functional spectrum of each narrative stage.In conclusion, the creation of symbolic meaning in Angelopoulos’ films, when viewed through the lens of symbolic communication, represents a multifaceted and diverse process. It encompasses the polysemy, combination, and organization of symbolic elements, alongside the influence of cultural, social, and historical backgrounds. An in-depth exploration of the construction of symbolic meaning in films enables a profound comprehension of the symbolic symbolism employed by Angelopoulos and the consequential impact and significance on the audience.

Keywords: symbol propagation, Angelopoulos film, symbol mark

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1004522

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