At first, I did not understand what exactly Barthes was message Barthes was trying to convey using the examples of fringes and how exactly fringes relate to the play of Julius Caesar. But, as I read on, I came to understand that Barthes was using the example of fringes to tell us that in the play Julius Caesar, Romans are easily identified by their fringes. Now that I understood this, I began thinking what could Barthes main point be using this is example of fringes standing for Romans? Well I definitely knew that it had to be a much bigger picture than just how we can identify Romans in film by their fringes.

As I read on, he started to mention all of the characters’ sweating in Julius Caesar. I thought: well if I am to look at this as a sign, the sweating must be a sign of apprehension. But as I read on, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that one little action such as sweating can be a sign of ¬†“everyone debating something within himself”. I believe this statement is true because in Julius Caesar, everyone is indeed debating, worried, or thinking about something. For example Brutus is debating how to kill Caesar, Calpurnia is worried about Caesar going to the Senate on the Ides of March, and so on. ¬†Then I see that Barthes says “…that thought is a violent, cataclysmic operation, of which sweat is only the most benign symptom.” At this point I was so lost, I really did not understand what Barthes was trying to say. How can “thought” be violent? Well if you think about something for an extensive period of time to the point that it actually makes you go crazy, then that could be violent in an unhealthy sort of way. But other than that, I still do not understand how exactly thought could be violent.

I think Barthes was trying to say that if you do not look at the small “signs” in a movie, you will never fully grasp a complete understanding of it. It is those small signs that make the movie. However, these small signs can present themselves through film in two ways : either “openly intellectual” or “deeply rooted”. If the sign is “openly intellectual” it is very noticeable and most viewers will immediately be able to notice it and at least make some type of connection. If the sign is “deeply rooted” you kind of have to read between the lines and think about such connections that could be made. Overall, I’m still not sure whether Barthes likes the “openly intellectual” or the “deeply rooted” sign.

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5 Responses to “Reflection on The Romans in Film”

  1.   John Malach Says:

    I am in the same boat as you are when it comes to what you said about how thought could be violent because i cannot see many ways that it physically can be violent but maybe he was talking about how it is self destructive thought can be as you put it. And i also wanted to agree with you how major small signs really are in a movie to get a whole picture because sometime that small little symbol can unlock the huge gap that someone is missing in a movie.

  2.   Beatrice Pana Says:

    yeah, but I do not know if I would call this “self-destructive” thought, as you put it, violent, I meant it would not be doing any physical damage, but more emotional or mental damage? In any case, we might just be reading too much into it, or taking it too literally.

  3.   Brad Bujan Says:

    i also do agree with the small signs. Without them theres no intrigue, we’re just being strung along by the director with no sense of direction. By using signs the director enables us to brainstorm future scenarios only to surprise us and take us in a totally new direction.

  4.   Beatrice Pana Says:

    I completely agree with your statement Brad.Besides, who likes to be just strung along in a movie anyways?

  5.   nashholl Says:

    I don’t necessarily think Barthes focus was on small signs and its relationship to completely grasping a movie. His idea was using signs correctly with their significance to deliver the “right understanding” of a film.

    With relation to small signs, i think that small signs are there to even validate further, reinforce or to add attention to detail what larger signs would have already accomplished. Take for instance, the Julius Caesar clip, the sweat and fringes (larger signs) were easily noticed signs, and coincidentally these vivid, noticeable signs were the subject of Barthes’ essay. Did anyone even notice the inscription (small sign) on the statue during the clip? We literally had to freeze-frame it to see that inscription. Barthes could have used the inscription as an example in his essay, but no one would have known what he was referring to.

    A good movie will have noticeable signs to keep you interested, but smaller signs will just reinforce the noticeable larger signs.

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