Graeme Turner describes film as a signifying practise. With close reference to at least one film studied on the unit, Identify the ways in which specific cinematic techniques (lighting, sound, editing, mise-en-scene, film stock, camera angles etc) contribute to meaning(s) in the film. Graeme Turner states, semiotics “allows us to examine the cultural specificity of representations and their meanings by using one set of methods and terms across the full range of signifying practices”. This essay will show the ways in which The Royle Family uses different filmic devices in order to convey meaning.
A sense of relation is needed to enjoy “The Royle Family”? This essay will attempt to discover if relation is necessary to get pleasure from the programme. Without this “sense” of relation enjoyment can be seen as being on a very simplistic level. Meaning that we are simply laughing at slapstick elements within the plot without relating their circumstances to our own lives. It can be said, generally by people of an upper class, that the Royle’s entire existence is pointless. It is. But then again isn’t everyone’s?Order now
The characters happiness in the programme is clearly apparent. They live in a world that could be conceived as without actual substance. People of other classes and/or backgrounds can see this lack of substance as enviable. Mainly because they feel that their lives are full of problems, they have a “drive” that cannot be sated by watching television, as the members of the Royle family seem to have. We are privileged, as the upper classes, to view this spectacle. It is presented to us as an insight, an insight that we need to have to understand other people.
The programme shows intricate details of their lives. On some level this is reality television at its best. Showing how everyday people react to everyday life. Nothing of any great consequence happens and yet they’re undeniably happy with their way of life. Conventions of situation comedy are disregarded and are replaced with something new. The audience is not spooned fed a picturesque existence; instead the audience is given a dose of a family’s real life. Stock characters are not used as the programmes aim, or inadvertent aim is to challenge the normal conventions of, not just television, but happiness.
The audience is placed in a position of the “guest”, a spectator to the ordinary events, or non-events, of the Royle’s lives. The characters are caricatures or overly exaggerated representations of people from that class. Their inane banter provides escapism for the people who watch the show. A fact mirrored in the opening sequence of the programme. In this opening sequence we are presented with a collage of images of the Royle’s in their living room watching television. This is not only mirroring what the audience is doing at that moment in time but also encoding the message that it is acceptable for them to want that existence or if they already do, why change? It is important to state that the Royle’s do not view their lives as unimportant. They believe that they are and that is all that is important to them. They are not striving to get out of that existence they have accepted it with open arms. This provides escapism to the audience as it shows that you can be happy with what you’ve got.
I believe the documentary like style is employed to emphasise the idea the feeling that we, as the audience, are watching these people in their natural habitat. Pans, low angle shots and even close ups are used to mimic the documentary style. We become the guest to the living room of this fictional household. This aids the audience to assimilate their way of life, we are literally seeing through the eyes of a guest.
There is a vast difference between the film stock used on The Royle Family than most sitcoms. For example, Friends uses a film stock that will make the actors/actresses on the show look “perfect”. On The Royle Family the film stock used is of a lesser quality. This leaves the audience with a grainy image on the television screen. I believe that this lesser film stock is used in order to reflect reality. This grainy image combined with the lighting shows us the reality of life. We are able to see all of the actors clear facial faults that we all have in reality.
Relation to the characters is important in enjoying the show, although this is not imperative as you can enjoy the programme on different levels. We have all seen people who dress, talk and act similarly to the characters within the programme. We may even see aspects of ourselves within the characters featured contained in this programme. Therefore humour, or at least interest, can be achieved from gaining an insight into these peoples lives.
Suspension of disbelief is required by some of the people that watch the show. These are the people who are not in the same, or similar, situations as these characters. This group of the audience is finding humour in the characters stupidity. The group that can relate to the show uses they personal context to relate the characters to people that they know. This means that this group of the audience finds satisfaction in seeing aspects of themselves or people they know as they can relate to the show. The Royle Family uses intra-diagetic sound and employs comedy simultaneously. In the wallpapering episode two of the male characters and the main female character have their hi-fi on with an upbeat dance-like track playing. The characters all end up dancing to this track as they would do in everyday life.