I know that today we were trying to find the code how to interpret those movies. We were talking about one detail give us clues about what would happen later, and the camera positions tell us blablabla. However, David mentioned that the director forced us to see the focuses and the next screen, we have no choice as an audience. Then I found I was trying to guess the directors intentions about why they put some certain background things into the stage, and how the directors put those clothes onto the actors’ body in order to express the roles’ personality.  My question is that do I come back to phenomenology from structuralism when I tried to guess and explain the directors’ intentions? Or I am using the structuralism method as far as I still decompose the movie into cloth, camera position and other aspects.


  1. jeffreybardzell

    Good question, Mingxian. My response would be that you are not really being phenomenological, because there is little serious effort on your part here to understand the actual director’s thinking and worldview (lifeworld, horizons, etc.). Instead, you are making inferences about structures embedded in the film (certain shots) and you are seeking to understand how they contribute to the meaning of the film. You talk about the “director’s intentions” here mainly as a convenience, as a way of attributing that coherence to something (rather than randomness).

    Put another way, when you look at a film and infer the director’s intentions, you are really engaging with the semiotic notion of addresser (implied writer) rather than the historical director. An exception to this might be if you know a lot about that director–her or his other work, political views, theories of art, etc.–and then you are seeking to situate a scene from a film relative to your knowledge of the director. That would certainly be phenomenological.

    But if you don’t know very much about Fellini or Kieslowski and you are just talking about “the director’s intention” as a way of naming some coherence among elements (e.g., camera shots, lighting, narrative themes) in the film (under the assumption that the director is the one who put it there), then you are being more of a structuralist.

    Does that make sense? If not, let’s talk about it, because this is an important point!


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