Representing Communication in Film Death at a Funeral – Movie Review Example

Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing

The paper "Representing Communication in Film Death at a Funeral "  is an outstanding example of a movie review on sociology. It is an apparent fact that the representation of communication in a film plays an integral role in determining the reception of that particular film in the target audience, the context of criticism as well as achieving the desired impact in the wider society. Precise use of film techniques helps in bringing harmony to different meanings in the film. This is based on the fact that just like any other form of art, a film represents the interplay of diverse meanings; ethical, sociological, psychological and historical among others (Božilović, 1998, p.

493)In this regard, this paper will explore the context of communication representation in the film Death at a Funeral (2010)which depicts communications in the home set-up as well as the film techniques embedded therein. In addition, it will analyze the audience identification, ideologies, representation and process of naturalization as well as the issues of gender relations in the aforementioned film. Towards this end, this essay will utilize a critical analysis approach in bringing out the above tenets from the film as well as critically exploring their effectiveness in achieving the desired effect. Filmic techniques Diverse film techniques are put into the utility in this film.

Some of them are explored in the subsequent analysis. Setting In regard to the setting, this film is predominantly shot in a family house where members of the grieving family are gathered for the funeral service of the deceased. In addition, there is a raised platform where the coffin is placed as well as several rows of chairs laid out for the anticipated guests. This setting is ideal in the sense that it is bound to confine together members of the family who have diversities in lifestyle, emotions, and expectations.

Thus, the lack of overloading the setting makes it easy for the characters to interact, while extensive efforts are made to bring sense in each room of this house, for instance, the bedroom, living room as well as the wider compound of this particular homestead. There are other minor settings, for instance, on the way from Jeff’ s house where Oscar (Elaine’ s fiancé ) starts to have delusions after taking a powerful hallucinogenic drug.

This setting is important, especially many of the shots in the course of the traveling sequences. This gives a robust sense of the neat lawns, bright flowers and nice vehicles which brings forth the paradox of the funeral mood and the certain beauty and radiance of this setting. Costumes The concept of the costume can be perceived in a generic sense to refer to the dress and wardrobe, to a typical mode of dressing of a particular people, period or class (Jaglan & Sharda, 2010, p.

1). Costumes play an imperative role as a tool for storytelling purposes in the sense that they communicate the impeccable specifics of the personality and background of each character in a swift exhibition to the audience (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 2008, p. 3). The costumes in the film under analysis exhibit the personality of particular characters in the film, for instance, the costumes worn by Frank, the alleged lover of the deceased. The black leather jacket is often associated with people with violent, cunning and often unruly personalities, which is exhibited when Frank threatens to withdraw a gun, if not permitted to leave after his plan to solicit money from Aaron and Ryan backfires. In addition, Keith David, who acts the role of Reverend Davis in the film wears the ‘ Clerical Collar’ which immediately communicates his religious role in the film to the audience upon his appearance. Color Color has often been cited as a strong film technique of representing communication in the film in the sense that modifications and alterations of color in the film from one scene to another communicates different meanings to the audience.

This is supported by Costa (2011, p. 340) who cited that the continuing alterations of color in particular scenes, coupled with variations of costumes and setting assumes diverse significances in the film. Thus, it is evident from the instigation of the film that black and grey are dominant colors of all the costumes which communicate to the audience that there is a grave or mourning mood in the film. This is imperative in representing grief in the film. On the other hand, the gradual movement from one color space to another by the camera has also been perceived to play a central role in producing a strong distinction or contrast between two different sets of ‘ worlds’ as exhibited in the film (Costa 2011, p.

343). In Death at a Funeral, there is the modification of color between the settings during the traveling sequence to the funeral location which is dominated by bright colors and the dull colors where the funeral is being conducted. Shot size This is another film technique used in Death at a Funeral.

There are different variations of shot size, from a long shot, close-up shot, medium shot and extreme close-up shot among others. All these represent specific communication in the film depending on when and how they are put into utility. This is best epitomized by the extreme close-up shot of Aaron prior to the entry of the undertakers carrying the coffin which communicates to the audience that he is in deep thoughts, anticipating and planning about something as well as the sudden change of his mood after the arrival of the coffin allegedly containing his father’ s body. Editing In reference to the soundtrack in the film, this is a film technique that reflects the mood in the film, for instance, the choice of Amazing Grace as part of the soundtrack exhibits a religious mood during the funeral. Dialogue Most of the dialogues in this film are mostly comic but sometimes substituted by satirical and serious dialogues, for instance, the dialogue between Ryan and Aaron while talking about the payment of the funeral expenses reveals seriousness of the matter under discussion, while Ryan tries to use humor to explain why he cannot raise the amount that they had agreed upon, citing that he was broke despite spending a lot of money on two first-class tickets from New York to L. A just for himself. Audience identification Identification in the film can be perceived as a system through which the members of the audience have extensive experience of the interpretation and reception of the film from deep inside within them as if the events transpiring in the film are actually happening to them.

In addition, the filmmaker positions the audience in a manner that will help them to be absorbed in the film as well as identify with specific characters as exhibited in the film (Cohen, 2001, p.

245). In Death at a Funeral, the filmmaker uses the scene whereby Hall (Aaron’ s wife) who is in desperate need of a baby and happens to be ovulating on a funeral day to assist in the audience, mostly female in identifying with this particular character. This particular scene portrays both the pressure of the childless wives from their in-laws amid the reluctance of their couples to have a baby at the optimum time which culminates in their desperation. Thus, this specific scene is an example of audience identification technique that the filmmaker has used to help the female audience to identify with the character (Hall) as if this particular phenomenon was happening to them.

The film technique of dialogue is extensively used in this scene to bring out the desperation in Hall and the past despair and fruitless efforts of getting a baby. This relates to the representation of communication in the film in the sense that it draws sympathy from the audience who identify with the impediments that Hall is going through as well as the ideal virtues of tolerance and patience in surmounting them. Representation In Death at the Funeral, the audience is bound to respond emotionally to the funeral setting based on the fact that they believe it is happening in the contemporary world.

This key role played by belief generates the chief question in regard to fiction, as to why the audience responds emotionally to fiction whereas they know that the events and content in the film don’ t occur in the real world (Frome, 2006, p.

12). Nonetheless, some of the scenes in this particular film represent what the audience might be undergoing or have experienced in the past and are tirelessly trying to resolve. The ending of this film represents the imperfect human nature which is exemplified in Aaron’ s eulogy where he praises his father as a good man who had flaws just like everyone else in the world. Ideology Hess (1978, p. 1) perceived ideology as the moderately methodical body of attitudes, perceptions, modes of thinking (often unconscious), values and ideas which are characteristic of a particular collective or class of people at a particular place and time. The main ideology in this film revolves around the value of family bonds.

This is whereby despite the family members residing in different localities, they are brought back together by shared grief of losing a relative. Thus, common or shared events in life, whether sad or happy bring back the family together which epitomizes the imperative role played by a strong family bond in life.

This is a positive message in the film which depicts the primary role of family integration. The second ideology is marriage/relationship dynamics whereby the majority of the relationships in these films are characterized by extensive commotions that threaten to tear them apart. This is best epitomized in Aaron and Hall's marriage which is characterized by frustrations over the lack of a baby after a long period of marriage. Similarly, marital commotions are depicted in the previous marriage of the deceased and his wife whereby the events that transpire at the end of the film reveal that the deceased had an extramarital relationship with Frank.

At the relationship level, there are strains in the previous relationship of Elaine who is currently engaged to Oscar but his ex-boyfriend Derek is determined to win her back. The majority of these marriage/relationship commotions exhibit a negative message throughout the film. Lastly, the ideology of gender differentiation in terms of roles, attitudes, and values is revealed in the film. This is epitomized by Hall who is plays the role of a comforter in her family and her caring attitude is epitomized during her conversation with Aaron who is troubled by the disappearance of his father’ s body and the inconsistencies in his eulogy.

At this scene, Hall portrays a caring character as opposed to other male characters in the film like Ryan. This ideology is also advanced by Cynthia, the wife of the deceased who make endless efforts to hold up her family together despite the apparent challenges. Thus, the ideology of differentiation of gender values and attitude is epitomized in this particular film which is a passive message. Process of naturalization There is evidence from the film that there has been a process of ideology naturalization whereby some aspects are naturalized which reveals how people view the world.

This is whereby when Oscar (Elaine’ s fiancé ) who is white causes chaos after hallucinating that the coffin is moving and knocking it over which results in the body falling out of the coffin, there is an amicable intervention to naturalize this event and things resume their normalcy. In addition, the context of his race and behavior is naturalized in a comical manner in this particular scene. The importance of naturalization of racial naturalization mentioned above is supported by Park et.

al (2006, p. 160) who determined that most theories have suggested that the process of naturalizing racial differences through stereotyping usually happen in a comedic manner based on the fact that there is extensive discouragement from general conventions in regard to the critical engagement of viewers with the racial discussions. Issues of gender As previously mentioned, issues of gender are evident in this film, mostly in relation to responsibilities in the family, attitude, and values in life.

The context of male-female antagonism is evidenced by the confrontation between Elaine and her ex-boyfriend who tries to win her back in his life. Conclusion From the above discourse, it is apparent that different aspects have been utilized in the process of representing Communication in Film, Death at a Funeral. In addition, diverse film techniques have been utilized in achieving this goal which has resulted in the development of the dominant ideologies in this film. Issues of gender are also evident in this film, mostly exemplified by male-female antagonism in relationships.  

References

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 2008, ‘Character by design’, retrieved 14 September 2012

Božilović, N., 1998, ‘The film critique as a factor of film communicatively’, The scientific journal FACTA UNIVERSITATIS, Vol. 1, No. 5, pp. 491-496.

Cohen, J., 2001, ‘Defining Identification: A theoretical look at the Identification of Audiences With Media Characters’, Mass Communication & Society, Vol. 4, No. 3, pp. 245–264

Costa, MH., 2011,’Color in films: A critical overview’, Critica Cultural (Critic), Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 333-346.

Frome, J., 2006,’Representation, Reality, and Emotions Across Media’, Film Studies, No. 8, pp. 12-25.

Hess, J., 1978, ‘Film and Ideology’, retrieved 14 September 2012.

Jaglan, V.& Sharda, N., 2010, ‘Costume design in the Indian Hindi films – a changing scenario’, retrieved 14 September 2012

Park et. al, J., 2006, ‘Naturalizing Racial Differences ThroughComedy: Asian, Black, and White Views on racial Stereotypes in Rush Hour 2’, Journal of Communication, Vol. 56, pp. 157-177.

Download full paperFile format: .doc, available for editing
Contact Us