11 Apr Language of Film
Using a specific example from a film or television series, discuss the ways in which film is like a language.
For this think piece, I selected the animated film, The Lion King. I purposefully picked this film for its contrary nature to both of this week’s readings which emphasize the importance of realism in film: Eisenstein, “A Dialectic Approach to Film Form” and Bazin, “Evolution of the Language of Cinema.” While care was given in the making of The Lion King to preserve the cultural identity of Africa, particularly in the music, many of the scenes distinctly lack any refection of realism.
One of The Lion King’s most iconic scenes is the opening featuring Elton John’s Circle of Life. This scene we see some use of the montage as the camera cycles between different animal groups to tell the story of gathering and coming together; however, most of this clip uses the traditional Hollywood editing style. Heavy use of the signifier and the signified can also be notated in this scene, particularly as the Rafiki smears fruit juice along the forehead of Simba, then raises him to the view of the animal kingdom below, much in the way of a Baptism is conducted for human infants. Another clear symbol is the clearing of the clouds for the sun to shine down directly on Simba, highlighting him as the divinely chosen to lead the pride, and the jungle. The use of these images, along with the bright color and uplifting soundtrack, emphasizes the joy and the significance of the moment within the film; the birth and introduction of the future king.