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Week 8: Time, Film & Language / Narrative and Sequence / Books: more than cover and paper (ART717)

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

Week beginning: 21st November 2022

Time, Film & Language/ Non-Narrative Practice

Watching a short 7-minute film titled ‘Echoes beyond Time, Anguish or Caress’ by Padraic Killeen:

Notes and observations during the viewing

In my opinion, this short film reflects upon elements of life and the moments we experience throughout our journey on this earth. It's almost a record of the world as we know it, documenting several aspects of modern-day life, whether that be transportation, relationships and visual responses/ reactions to our surroundings. The emotions we face on a day-to-day basis, happiness and sadness. Everything within shot is moving forward in a documentary style, almost a record of an individual's life. Many stills are reverted into black and white, negative and positive stills. This in my opinion represents both the negatives and positives within life. Its these sharp contrasts in shots that stand out throughout the film making it quite striking and thought provoking. The choice of typography, written across the video and throughout the clip, especially at the beginning was very fascinating. It gives the viewer time to stop and reflect, almost evaluate the text and create their own video/clip in their imagination.

Words within the video that stood out:

  • Once we know the number one, we know number 2. 1 = 2.

  • Silence goes faster backwards. The present is the form of all life.

  • Time is like a circle.

  • Light that fades away

  • Light that returns

  • When you smile, you become part of me

Reading 'The Language of Film: Signs and Syntax from James Monaco's publication How to Read a Film: Movies, Media and Beyond. 2009/ Notes and Extracts.

After examining a film's close relation to other narrative media such as novels, paintings, photography, television, and even music, the book discusses the elements necessary to understand how films convey meaning, and, more importantly, how we can best discern all that a film is attempting to communicate.


"To describe film as a language is misleading. English and French can be described as languages – even mathematics; but not film; this does not require a vocabulary. It is possible for infants to understand television images months before they begin to develop any facility with spoken language. Cats watch television. Appreciating a film does not require an intellectual understanding of it. However, film does resemble language. Experienced, visually literate people (in film), see and hear more than people who seldom watch films."

Conclusions after reading:

• Everybody is capable so retaining and identify a visual image

• Images even the simplest visual images are sometimes, interpreted differently.

Individuals read images in three different ways:

Physiologically: the readers would have the most efficient and extensive saccadic patterns.

Ethnographically: the most literate readers would draw on the greatest experience and knowledge of a wide variety of cultural visual conventions.

Psychologically: the readers who benefited the most from the material would be the ones who were best able to assimilate the various sets of meanings they perceived and then integrate the experience.

A communication of meaning is possible with films. This being possible in two different ways:

Denotatively: it is what it is, and we don’t have to strive to recognize it

Connotatively: like written language, a film image or sound has a denotative meaning.

Differences between a description in words of a person or event, and a cinematic record of the same:


Film can give us such a close approximation of reality; and it can communicate a precise knowledge seldom achieved by the written or spoken language – as film is what you cannot imagine.

Language systems

Language systems are much better equipped to deal with the nonconcrete world of ideas and abstractions: this book, for example, on film, without a complete narration would be perplexing.

Questions & Discussion 22/11/2022

How is it possible to Identify the Protagonist’s Quest & Character Arc within a film?

It has become repeatedly clear to me that most films, if not all films have at least one protagonist (Sometimes even more than one). This is of course the leading character, whether that be the hero or heroine or narrator. The protagonist’s journey is centered around a journey, a journey to obtain something or achieve something a quest/storyline. In stark contrast to the protagonist, we have the antagonist(s), this is in fact the opposite to the protagonist in which he or she (or they) attempts to prevent the leading character/s from achieving their goal.

Character Arc

Some of the finest films and screenwriting not only reveals and introduces a true sense of character to the audience but portrays an in-depth sense of character arc which changes over the course of the telling. An example of this would be the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) film, this film depicts the main character as a cold hearted, Christmas hating hermit whose character arc slowly develops into the opposite, a warm heart, Christmas loving social character.

Point of View

A movie is normally told from one of three points of view:

· Omnipotent: can go anywhere and see anything at any time (multiple perspectives)

· Over-the-shoulder of one character (a single perspective)

· First-person narration

How to define the plot type within a film and determine its purpose and aim?

A film’s plot can be defined as the overall plan, scheme, or interrelated pattern of events moving through time to shape the storyline. There are four common plot types,

  • Archplot: In these stories, the screenwriter and director are trying to show the audience that life brings positive change, reality has meaning, and life is good and will end well.

  • Antiplot: The opposite of the archplot, an antiplot is used to express that life is absurd, and change is random and therefore meaningless. (Example: Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

  • Miniplot: These plots bring the audience a micro or mini slice of life, relating that “life brings little or no change.”

  • Multiplot: Resting between the archplot and miniplot is the multiplot. It is essentially an archplot with multiple protagonists and therefore multiple plots. (Example: Crash)

Another key plot type/genre would be Film noir (dark film): A genre that manifested in the wake of World War II, these films depict the dark side of humanity and reflect existential angst. They present a hopeless universe, devoid of feelings other than lust, revenge, and the will to power. Noir characters have an attitude of “kill or be killed.”

There is a growing genre of films that may be called neo-noir, which are a reimagination of Film Noir. They transcend a coherent story, and weave in postmodern relativism and suspicion about truth. (Examples: Pulp Fiction, Memento)


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