Films form of communication, it has earned scholastic attention

Films have come up to be one of the most popular forms of art in the cultural domain of the entire world. The past century has seen massive growth in the medium of art. The aesthetic richness and vast influence of this art form has made it the need of the day to look into the communicative nature of films and how it influences the human mind. Human beings not only find entertainment from movies, but also see it as a very high form of artistic representation. The comprehension of films involves very complex cognitive functions on the part of the audience and there has to be an attempt at having a clear understanding of how human beings cognize films. It is as complex as the understanding of the experiences of real life, if not more. Because of the immense significance of film as a form of communication, it has earned scholastic attention of the researchers, in spite of the fact that it is not primarily considered an academic discourse in the dominant public domain, being a popular form of entertainment. Unlike the other academic discourses, study of films has attained the status of a discipline in a very short period of time. There might be several reasons for the steady rise of film as an academic discipline, but the most significant one is its effectiveness in communicating messages. While studying the communicational aspect of film, academicians have paid much of their attention either in delving into its ideological significance or in explicating the technological intricacies. What might have remained less explored for a long time is the significance of cinematic artwork as a window to human mind. Study of film as a form of communication from this perspective would shed light on those questions which are primary to the representational and procedural aspect of film cognition.1.2 Film as a form of communicationFilm is essentially a form of communication as it is also a popular form of entertainment. Films are catered to the masses on the large screens or televisions. Stuart Hall in his seminal essay, Encoding, Decoding, goes on to opine that the process of making a filmic text involves encoding the various cultural markers of the cultural domain which then reach the masses. It is totally on the people watching the film how they would communicate with the film which they see. They eventually decode the information and interpret the information accordingly. They might support and comply with the things which are being communicated, they might partly comply or they might reject. Thus, the communication which occurs via films is quite a complex one and it needs to be investigated. It has to be reminisced that communication through films is done on a massive scale as a single film is shown to thousands across the globe. Therefore, exploring communication through film from an intercultural perspective could be a challenging task for the scholars. A film which is made in a cultural domain will have the cultural markers and attributes of that society. When it is viewed by the audience from another part of the world, he or she needs to comprehend the film in the context of the society in which he or she is dwelling. Or it might be so that a film is seen as a reflection of the particular cultural domain from where it belongs. As such, it might be seen as a representative artifact of the cultural domain in which it has been made.1.3 Filmmaker as the creative artistThere can be no doubt about the fact that the filmic text goes on to portray the cinematic sense and creativity of the filmmaker who can be regarded as the author of the artistic work. In this context, one needs to comprehend that the filmic language is quite different that literary language. In films, there is scope of incorporation of audio-visual data while many of the cinematic techniques come into play in the process of filmmaking. One can reminisce how Roland Barthes went on to opine that “text is a tissue of quotations” and it is upon the reader or the audience to decipher the meaning of the creative work. In his opinion, the author of a text is bound by the previous works that come to have an influence on the author who merely plays the role of a person who amalgamates the characteristics of existing work in his or her artistic expression. One can take into account two seminal cinematic works in the history of cinema that have gone on to impress the critics and the audience alike with the sheer affective appeal and portrayal of the content and the characters: A Beautiful Mind (2001) and The Theory of Everything (2014). Ron Howard’s film, A Beautiful Mind, and James Marsh’s film, The Theory of Everything, are very powerful stories that leave the audience stirred with the portraiture of the strong characterization through the male protagonists who come across to be magnanimous personalities in spite of their respective disabilities, while the women in their lives are portrayed to be even stronger as they are shown to have the valor to brave all odds and stay by the side of their respective spouses so as to support them in their times of need and aid them in the process of betterment in their lives. One has to take into account how the two directors have used the figurative devices and techniques so as to portray the content of the films to the audience. It has to be taken into account that both the films present an antithetic situation in the course of the narratives. It needs to be understood that the character of the male protagonist in the film, A Beautiful Mind, goes on to descend into schizophrenia as the narrative of the film progresses. It needs to be comprehended that this mental illness has the capacity to take a toll on any person’s life. The illness has the capacity to make a person refrain from the normal functions of life. However, the character of John Nash is shown to be someone with utmost grit as he does not give in to the illness and its constrictions, even after being perturbed by the problem for quite some time. He is shown to be a character who keeps on challenging the constrictions so as to overcome the handicap situation in the course of time. Although he sees the characters and his illness is never cured, Nash finds his way of living life and even goes on to succeed in his domain of knowledge. He is awarded the Nobel Prize for his immensely great contribution to the domain of his study. While it might seem that it is the struggle of just one man against the illness, it is surely a big step for human nature as Nash showed that resolution and commitment can enable one to fight the gravest odds in life and live normally like any other person. On the other hand, The Theory of Everything goes on to portray the character of Stephen Hawking who comes to know that he has motor neurone disease but continues is research, in spite of having been said that he has only a couple of years to live. He soon loses his power to walk, but treads on the path of achieving fame all over with his brilliant research work. The film goes on to portray how in spite of losing his voice and strength to move or function normally, Stephen is able to continue his journey of brilliance as an academician. His fight against the disease becomes an epitome of human endeavor and determination and he continues to live even today. Thus, both the directors use antithetic portrayal in the films in context.In both the films, the respective female characters are portrayed to be the symbols of ultimate power and resolution. John Nash’s wife, Alicia, goes on to stay by his side all the while as he endeavors to cope with life. One can only imagine the amount of impediments she must have gone through raising the child alone apart from supporting Nash all through. She took care of him all by herself and it was due to her constant support and inspiration that her husband could achieve success in spite of his illness. On the other hand, in the film by Marsh, the female character of Jane comes across to be the symbol of ultimate strength and stamina. She marries Stephen in spite of knowing about his disease. She goes on to raise children with him and even look after her ailing husband. She can be found to be the support system in the truest sense for her spouse. Even the character of Elaine can be seen as the symbol of strength as Stephen seeks the asylum of her love when he is estranged from his wife. Thus, both the films portray the ultimate source of inspiration and power through the symbolic representation of strong women.Both the films go on to delve deep into the oxymoronic lives of the male protagonists. It can surely be opined that John Nash is disabled by his mental illness, while Stephen Hawking is greatly disabled by his physical condition. However, both these characters come across to be super-human in their abilities. As such, the respective disabilities of the characters and the supreme mental ability comes across to be quite an oxymoronic portraiture that only works to heighten the affective charm and appeal of both the cinematic works. At one point of time, Stephen goes on to opine that there should be no boundary to human endeavor. Indeed, both the characters show their capacity to be great rising above the average along with the immense support of their love. As such, the films leave a lasting mark on the minds of one and all for sure. It would be correct to say that the directors portray their excellence through the perfect portrayal of the characters and their respective stories. The films are nothing short of being inspirational for the entire audience as it shows the true elixir of life, and guides one about the ways in which one can live life. Truly, these films are the vehement expressions of the undaunted human spirit and they go on to show that there can be no boundary to human success and no constriction is tough enough to keep a person deprived of what he aims to do in life, no matter how hard the path to success can be.1.4 Film as propagandaThere are many examples of iconic cinematic works that can be categorized as propaganda films. The trend of using this medium of art as propaganda has remained uniform over the years in history. Film provides the filmmakers with the opportunity to imbibe the minds of the audience with specific socio-political representations or messages so as to shape their perspective and psyche regarding the world and the society.One can recall the cinematic works of the stalwart filmmaker, Sergei Eisenstein, who went to leave a lasting mark in the history of cinema with his films like The Battleship Potemkin and October: Ten Days That Shook the World that went on to become the milestones of cinema in the world. Both of these films can be called propaganda films as they engage in the portraiture of the class struggle of the commoners of the society against the oppressive ruling class or the governance. The director went on to use cinematic techniques like montage editing to portray the revolutionary uprising. In this context one can recollect the iconic Odessa steps sequence from the film The Battleship Potemkin that uses the montage editing technique to portray the start of a revolution. These films engage in the portrayal of socialist realism on the cinematic screen so as to influence the people, build a strong opinion against the oppressive ruling class and mobilize the commoners for taking actions. Propaganda films were not just used by the Communists to mobilize the masses and get their support. Even the Nazis went on to engage in making films as propaganda machinery to influence the people of the society. One can mention about the film, Triumph of the Will, directed by Leni Riefenstahl that was a Nazi propaganda film. The film went on to glorify Adolf Hitler and his portrayed the Nazis as the greatest of all. Their military prowess, popularity, infallibility and invincibility were highlighted in the course of the film in context. The film was aimed to portray the Nazis as the most powerful political force in front of the entire world. The low angle shots of Hitler endeavor to show him to be someone who is a larger-than-life character. Right in the beginning of the film, he is shown to emerge from beyond the clouds as if being a messiah for the German people. It has to be reckoned that films have the ability to create this illusory world of reality and life. The cinematic medium goes on to open up unknown perspectives about this world. As such, there can be no doubt that films work as very effective tools of propaganda since the cinematic representations can very well establish consciousness and the visual icons of historical occurrence. Moreover, films can be very effective in ascertaining the attitudes of the public. Films can hog the attention of the people and thereby mobilize them to act for a specific cause. Thus, propaganda films have the power to influence as well as create or even distort historical consciousness of people. This medium of art is surely extremely persuasive in nature with the audio-visual stimuli, and hence has been used for the purpose of opinion-building among people.Another very powerful propaganda film, Soy Cuba (I am Cuba) was directed by Mikhail Kalatozov. This film goes on to critique the bourgeoisie and the economic system of capitalism, endeavoring to mobilize the people to stand up against the exploitative economic system. The film shows the oppressions and insensitivities meted out to the working class people of the society, and thus mobilize the audience to stand up against the ills of capitalism. Thus, one can very well comprehend that the power of film as a medium of communication with the masses has been utilized by different ideologies and people so as to endeavor to influence the people of the society to develop a specific perspective about a matter. 1.5 What is cognition?The problems involved in cognizing a film is thus a major challenge for the present research work in this domain. It becomes a very interesting avenue of study to understand the various factors which are involved in the procedure of understanding films. It is believed that the cognition of films is similar or even more complex in comparison to our comprehension of the environment around us. The process by which sensory input is used, transformed, elaborated, reduced, stored and recovered is known as cognition. In the discourse of science, cognition is the mental process which is constituted of the attention of working memory, language comprehension and production, reasoning, calculation, decision making and problem solving. Cognition is studied by various disciplines like psychology, philosophy and linguistics. But, the use of the term differs across the various disciplines. In cognitive science and psychology, the word ‘cognition’ refers to the information processing capacity of an individual. In the discourse of social psychology, the word is used to explain attribution, attitudes and group dynamics. On the other hand, in cognitive psychology and cognitive engineering, the word is used to mean the information processing in the operator’s or person’s brain. Cognition is essentially the faculty for the processing of information, changing preferences as well as applying knowledge. Cognitive processes can be artificial or natural as well as conscious or unconscious. All these processes get analyzed from different perspectives in the contexts of linguistics, psychiatry, anesthesia, psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, anthropology, systemics, as well as computer science.1.6 What is language?The aim of cognitive scientists in studying language is to describe and account for the systematicity, structure and functions of language and how all of these mentioned functions get realized by the language system. But, a very important reason for studying language remains in the fact that it is assumed that language reflects the patterns of thought. Thus, studying language from this particular perspective would mean studying the patterns of conceptualization. One can very well get insights into the structure, nature and organization of thoughts and ideas of the human mind through studying language. There is a basic difference in the approach of cognitive scientists in the study of language in comparison to scholars from other discourses. This lies in their opinion that language reflects certain fundamental properties and design features of the mind of human beings. This assumption has major implications for the methodology, scope and models which have been developed within the domain of cognitive linguistics. A very important feature to judge a model of language is to comprehend whether it is psychologically plausible. Human beings rely on language to perform various works in life, but still they take language for granted. Every daily activity which is performed by human beings depends on the use of language as a form of essential communication. The entire societal structure would be jeopardized in the absence of communication among the members of the society. Language is the greatest tool for communication among the people. In every situation, language plays the role of the most quick and effective expression and is a way of encoding and transmitting ideas which are complex and subtle. The notions of encoding and transmitting are of great importance as they are linked to two very key functions which are related to language. These are the symbolic function and the interactive function.1.6.1 Interactive aspect of cognitionLanguage serves the function of interaction in our everyday social lives. Language does not merely pair forms and meanings. These pairings of forms and meanings should be comprehensible and accessible to other people who belong to the community. The main function of any language is to get the idea across to others and carry out the process of communication. The process of communication involves the transmission by the speaker and then the decoding or interpretation by the hearer. The two processes are thus constituted of the construction of rich conceptualizations.Language can be utilized to create frames or scenes of experience, indexing and also to construct particular context. Thus, it can be opined that language use might invoke such frames which summon rich knowledge structures that make one recall and fill in the background knowledge. Thus, it is safe to say that language does not only encode particular meanings, but it goes on to carry out an interactive function as it symbolizes the meanings which are a part of the shared knowledge in a community1.6.2 Symbolic function of cognitionOne of the greatest functions of language is to the put forward the ideas and thoughts. This means that language actually encodes and externalizes the thoughts of human beings. This is done by language by the utilization of symbols which are ‘bits of language.’ These bits can be meaningful subparts of words like prefix in a word (for example dis- as in disrespect) or whole words (like fun, run, etc.) or also a string of words which might constitute a sentence. All these symbols consist of forms which can be written, spoken or signed and they have meanings with what these forms get paired in the conventional sense. A symbol is better referred to as symbolic assembly since there are two parts which are associated conventionally. Expressed differently, the symbolic assembly which we are discussing about is a pairing of form and meaning.A form can actually be a sound or the orthographic representation that is seen on written pages or also a signed gesture which is in a sign language. The meaning is the semantic content or the conventional ideational which is associated with the symbol. Concepts get derived from percepts, in turn. For example, one might consider an apple as a piece of fruit. The different parts of the human brain perceive the shape, texture, color, taste, smell and all these attributes. Thus, a diverse range of perceptual information is gathered by us from the world we live in and these are all integrated into one mental image which is a representation available to our consciousness. This mental image leads us to have the concept of an APPLE. When language is used and the form apple is uttered, the symbol actually corresponds to the conventional meaning. Thus, this links us to the concept rather than to a physical object directly which is present in the external world.The cognitive abilities of human beings go on to integrate the raw perceptual information in the form of well-defined and coherent mental image. The meanings which get encoded by the linguistic symbols actually refer to the projected reality which is a mental representation of reality. This mental representation of reality is construed by the mind and plays a crucial role in mediating between what one sees and what one knows in a given point of space and time. The symbolic function of language is to encode and externalize what one knows. So, symbolic function of language is clearly linked with the process of conceptualization. Language in general is a tool to conceptualize the world around us. By conceptualization, we intend both production and comprehension of the reality. Since reality is always in flux, any form of language should have enough potential to represent as well as to process infinite aspects of the projected reality. In contrast, human mind as an information processing system is finite. It is argued by the famous scholars that in spite of being a finite system human mind as well as the human language have enough potential to encode and to process infinite number of realities in the virtue of being generative. In other words, language is merely a prompt for the construction of a conceptualization which is richer and more elaborate than the meanings which are actually minimal being provided by language. Thus, what is encoded by language is not complex in itself, but it can be seen as the rudimentary instructions to the conceptual system to create and access ideas which are rich and elaborated.1.7 How does film stand in relation to language and cognition?Film can be taken as a form of language and it is very complex in nature. Film has all the features of a language and it requires high level of cognitive processing to cognize films. Films are shot and then constructed so that they can make some meaning on the screen. But, it is up to the audience to comprehend the films and make sense of cinema and this cognition and understanding requires engagement. The scenes and sequences provide external stimuli to the audience who has come to see the movie and the audience makes up the meaning of the movie in their mind. Moreover, the complexity of cultural boundaries come into play while cognizing films.Just like normal language, films have encoded messages as mentioned earlier in the chapter. These messages are carried in the movies and it is the onus of the spectators to decode them. Films externalize thoughts of the makers and quite like language the film communicates this externalization of thoughts and expressions to the masses. The audience understands the film by conceptualization of the ideas which are communicated via this medium of art and aesthetics.1.8 ObjectivesThe primary objective of the work is to understand film as a language and take the limelight on the attempts which have been made in the scholarly discourse to study cinema as a form of art. Film as a form of art is new, but has developed and advanced enormously since the time of its inception in 1895. In these years, films have come forward to take the place of most popular form of entertainment and refined form of art at the same time.It is aimed to comprehend the various theories which are there to explain films and how they fall short of their aim to describe the process of cognition of films and thus ascertain a holistic understanding of the phenomenon of film and cognition. Specific models which can explain how films are understood would be delved deep into to take forward the study in this discourse. The relations between language and film would be further investigated and the links would be established to show how film is cognized just like human beings cognize and process language in their minds. The complexities of film as a form of art would be deciphered and the filmic text would be broken down to bring to light the structure and content which amalgamate to form the art form.