Essay on Christian Metz's Grande Syntagmatique and 1966 Film Daisies

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Christian Metz's Le Grande Syntagmatique provides film viewers with a coded system for deconstructing cinema. Although this system is sufficient for deconstructing classical narrative films, it is not sufficient in deconstructing avant-garde films such as Daisies. In Christian Metz's essay "Problems of Denotation in the Cinema", Metz arrives at the theory that filmic denotation is primarily a question of syntagmatic considerations by examining the "relationship between cinematographic language and language itself" (Metz, p. 108). To Metz, cinematographic symbolism "must be born out of the film" (p.119). He argues that "the principal figures of cinematographic language originally aimed to make stories more alive for connotative purposes, and this concern with connotation resulted in increasing, organizing, and codifying denotation" (p. 118). He uses alternate montage as an example. It became a pattern of denotative intelligibility, but it was invented for "effects of style and composition" (p. 118). Viewers knew that alternating images on screen were "liable to signify that temporal events in the fiction were simultaneous" (p. 118). In the cinema, "connotation is nothing more than a form of denotation, and the choice between different ways of structuring denotation is the most fundamental way of signifying connotation" (p. 118-119). Daisies is a Czechoslovakian dadaist film about two girls with almost identical personalities. The girls decide to act spoiled because the world around them has become spoiled. It was directed by Věra Chytilová in 1966. The film partakes in third world cinema as a vehicle for social transformation by mocking the socialist Czechoslovakian government through the rebellious actions of its main characters. The film tackles topics such as hunger, waste, and feminism. The extract analyzed consists of eleven syntagmas.

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