USJ Theses and Dissertations
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Semiotic multimodality: a filmic analysis of Wong Kar-Wai's in the mood for love

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Semiotic multimodality: a filmic analysis of Wong Kar-Wai's in the mood for love
Chapter 1 provides an overview of the study. Scholarly interest in film discourse (Bateman and Schmidt, 2011; Tseng, 2009) have led to the development of semiotic resources as dependable model to anchor current film research. The application of semiotic multimodality to investigate “how film means” and unlock its “textual organization” through a specific film adaptation case study will be the main focus of the research. Chapter 2 reviews relevant literature in the domain of adaptation and multimodal studies. In particular, semiotic multimodal theories which inform the present study of Ackbar Abbas’ theory of déjà disparu in the context of Hong Kong New Cinema in general, and the cinema of Wong Kar-wai in particular are introduced. Chapter 3 outlines the research design. The theoretical framework underpinning the study include Metz’s grande paradigmatique, Barthes’ semiotic, and above all, Bateman’s multimodality principles of analytic units such as filmic units, syntagmatic and paradigmatic axes are set out. Chapter 4 analyses Liu Yichang’s modernist novella, Intersection (1972). Drawing upon adaptation theories, the chapter examines Wong’s radical re-working of Liu’s experimental fiction to produce an “abstract adaptation” that not only challenges issues of adaptation fidelity but opens “new theoretical dialogue” about the intersection of film and literature, with particular emphasis on “the formalism of tête–bêche (theory) into a social-historical critique” in his film adaptation of In the Mood for Love. Chapter 5 examines the filmmaker – Wong Kar-wai. In the 2012 Sight and Sound poll, critics and film-makers voted In the Mood for Love the 24th Greatest-Film-of-All-Time. Commercial and critical acclaimed aside, the film about unrequited love, the transmutation of time and memory, carries a “historical significance” in post-colonial Hong Kong. Abbas theorizes a culture of déjà disparu to covey film-makers, like Wong, who adopts cinematic techniques of “disappearance and ambivalence” to capture a global city, i.e. Hong Kong, that is imminently disappearing. Chapter 6 analyses In the Mood for Love in a stratified semiotic model. It explores the basic units of film, or the syntagmatic configurations of filmic units, through fine-grained, shot-by-shot analysis of the case study. The chapter employs extensive corpus of data coupled with rigorous annotation of filmic units and detailed analysis of paradigmatic systems. Chapter 7 applies the analytic framework for a closer analysis of In the Mood for Love by combining syntagmatic and paradigmatic organization that covers the entire target film fragment. Incidentally, Bateman and Schmidt’s seminal research, the results published in 2012, analysed D. W. Griffith’s The Girl and her Trust (1912), a silent film, 15 minute long, consisted of only 140 shots. Despite the level of complexity involved, the present study seeks to examine if a semiotic multimodal framework, specifically through the interaction of the two axes – syntagmatic and paradigmatic – could lead to fresh insights of “textual organization”, filmic meaning making and, consequently, filmic discourse. Chapter 8 and 9 summarizes the key findings, discusses its implications and its contribution to multimodal research. Limitations of the present study and directions for further research are proposed. Chapter 10 provides generalizations concerning In the Mood for Love, Wong’s film adaptation from Liu Yichang’s modernist novella, Intersection; as well addresses the research questions raised in the study. To summarize, the study builts on Bateman and Schmidt’s (2011) and Tseng’s (2009) research on film as a form of “cinematographic document,” and continues their efforts to construct a semiotic mode of film. The author recognizes the complexity of undertaking research in the domain of semiotic discourse. This study argues that as film analysis is about ways of seeing and synthesizing different cinematic styles, strategies; learnt cinematic conventions and reflective viewing is imperative. The interaction of robust multimodal resources, well-defined analytic units, based on dependable models, and conducted through a discursive process should align to produce fruitful filmic discourse. The study premised on the assumption that film is more than a “self-enclosed signification system” but a crucial “cultural practice” that “reflect and inflect culture.” Taken together, this view underscores the importance and interactivity of cinema, culture and society. To this end, the study contributes to filmic meaning making, the New Hong Kong Cinema, and finally, the present study invariably serves as a form of “social document” or “cultural artifacts” in its exploration of Hong Kong ever changing identity, culture and moods
University of Saint Joseph

Supervisor : Carlos Caires; In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of PhD in Global Studies in the Faculty of Creative Studies, University of Saint Joseph, 2017; Includes bibliography and index

Tan, C. S. (2017). Semiotic multimodality: a filmic analysis of Wong Kar-Wai’s in the mood for love [University of Saint Joseph].