Visual Analysis of Christopher Nolan’s Film Posters Case Study of the Dark Knight and Inception

analytical Essay
2699 words
2699 words

As one of the most popular directors in Hollywood, Christopher Nolan was known for his complex storyline and non-linear structure of the film. His most famous work including The Prestige (2006), Inception (2010), Batman series (2005, 2008, 2012), many of his work has been nominated for numerous awards. This paper mainly analyses two famous film posters from his works, The Dark Knight (2008) and Inception (2010). Semiotics, known as the science of signification, was first originated by Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Sanders Peirce. This paper will implement the semiotics analysis and introduce the theory of semiotics and review the history generally. Semiotics is the interpretation of meaning, based on the Saussure’s approach of semiology; he was mainly focused on the structure on linguistics, while Peirce was more concentrate on the logical dimensions of the science. In general, semiotic is a study of signs. According to Gordon, he defined that sign is “Anything that tells us about something other than itself” (Gordon, 1996:14) A sign is a representation of an object or implied deep meaning behind the object. Saussure developed the principle of semiotics as he applied to language, he also elaborates the relationship of a sign with the following formula: “signifier + signified=sign” Based on Saussure’s notion, signifier is the sign carries the meaning, including the marks on the paper and the sound in the air. Signified is a mental concept of meaning, which the person who has the same cultural background can share the same language. The sign is embraced both of them, which make the sign, have the wider use.
Peirce’s idea of semiotic is a statement of signification, representation, reference and meaning. As the most influential and logical theory in semiotic analysis history, Peirce’s views of semiotic are compatible with Saussure’s theory.

In this essay, the author

  • Describes symbolic signs: the title of the film 'inception', the names of actors, release dates, etc.
  • Explains that because the film poster gives little information of the movie, it is hard to analyse with the semiotic system.
  • Opines that this film poster does not give much to the audiences that could be risky because audiences might not understand and opt out in watching the film. however, it can be advantageous to create suspense and attract audiences to watch the movie.
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