Barthes Codes: Semantic Code - Nicholas Thetford

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Barthes Codes Semantic:

Barthes Codes Semantic Nicholas Thetford

What is Semantic code?:

What is Semantic code? Semantic code is the connotations of props, lighting, location, costumes and fonts. For example if there was a rose in a shot it would connote love and romance – that is it’s semantic code. This rose connotes love and romance as red is associated with passion and followers are associated with relationships and love.


Props One instance of semantic code in props in our opening sequence is the character Jackson with a burnt slice of toast, this connotes the harshness of him as a character. He is not shown being harsh in the opening sequence but it would happen later in the movie. Another instance of semantic code in props in our opening sequence is the jewels. They connote wealth, but after the cut away to police asking if the two people handling them had been seen they connote danger – they are illegal items. They are being manipulated and exploited by the two which tarnishes their connotations.


Lighting The character Alex is bathed in light in the first shots of her being seen. Light connotes purity and innocence, through this Alex’s real characteristics are hidden and she seems like a stereotypical office lady. Later Alex is shown to be working with Jackson and Jimmy and when this is revealed she emerges from darkness, the connotations of dark are evil and dangerous. This layers Alex with multiple different representations, making the character complex.


Location One instance of location semantic code is the London Tilbury Docks, they usually have the connotations of being professional, legal and highly secure. However this connotation changes when Jackson and Jimmy are shown conducting illegal trade from within it. This challenge to the connotations makes the opening sequence appear a lot more interesting than if it was just ‘work as usual’ and the dock didn’t have the darker connotations.


Costume The character Graham has multiple connotations from his costume. Firstly, Graham’s long coat connotes importance, smartness and power. This coat establishes he is not a normal citizen, and the audience knows there is something important about him as soon as he is on screen. Graham being a detective needs this instant realisation from the audience. Secondly, his shirt is untucked, this undermines the connotations above and connotes a messiness and (what we want the audience to get) the fact the character is under stress from the people on his team as he is the youngest.

Font and Colour:

Font and Colour The fonts we use in the opening sequence are blocky, connoting a neatness and professionalism. They are black and white meaning they stand out amongst the rest of the shot which is in colour, this connotes a precise and calculated feel. This lines up with the fact the opening sequence deals with a pair of crooks who are calculated and precise about how they go about their illegal trade. We use colour to indicate to the audience subtly the characters that will be the antagonist and the characters who will be the protagonists through semantic code. The character Graham is exclusively in shots where there is not much going on and there is a decreased saturation this darkness and a dullness – not how a typical protagonist would be expected, by the audience, to be presented. The characters Jackson and Jimmy are shown together in a shot with high saturation, with lots going on in the background. This connotes a happiness, this is associated typically with protagonists. This allows the audience to pick up who the movie will be rooting for and which perspective the film will take, without explicitly telling the audience.

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