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CINEMATOGRAPHY & FILM ‣ Film Reading 101: Decoding the Silent Messages of the Silver Screen

Updated: Aug 18, 2023

Öykü Canli, Senior Editor, Film

Film Reading 101 is the first in a series of monthly articles to follow in which Öykü Canli takes a deep look into symbolism and meaning in film.

Have you ever found yourself diving deep into a movie scene, wondering, "What's the deeper meaning behind this?" or "Is there more than what meets the eye?" If you've ever found yourself asking, "Could the director be implying something more?" then you've just embarked on the thrilling quest of "reading" a film.

If the answer is "yes", you are in the right place, and with this article series I will make sure that you will be able to “READ “ a movie!

"But wait," you might think, "since when do we 'read' movies? Aren't we supposed to just watch them?" Ah, but that's the enchantment of cinema. While many bask in the visual and auditory spectacle of a movie, others seek to decode its intricate layers and hidden messages.

In the vast world of cinema, movie-goers can be categorized into two types: the Watchers and the Readers. Watchers savor the immediate thrill, absorbing the evident storylines and emotions. But the Readers? They are the cinephile detectives, craving more than just the surface narrative. They derive a unique joy from unveiling hidden symbols, motifs, and patterns that thread the fabric of a film together.

Journey with me, Öykü CANLI, as we take a fascinating exploration through art history, unveiling the depth of imagery, symbols, and iconic moments in cinema. You'll soon discern the subtleties of cinematic language—from camera movements to mise en scène, from the hues and tones of objects to the nuances of sound and lighting, even down to the positioning of characters.

It's astounding how directors, from the onset, weave foreshadowing into their tales, imbuing every frame with layered meanings. They don't just narrate a story; they artfully exhibit it. However, the depth of understanding, much like the beauty of art, is in the eye of the beholder.

So, are you ready to move beyond merely watching and truly "read" a film?


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