Reading Film and Television Texts: Skyfall

Language and Grammar

Language is all the component parts used to generate meanings and effects. Grammar is the ways in which these parts are connected together to build larger structures of meaning and effect.

Skyfall (Mendes 2012)

This sequence was constructed through a combination of component parts. The image of Moneypenny running from the car is followed in the next shot by her running towards the cliff side where she can see the rail track. This shows a logical step in showing us where she is running to. It also ties in the shots following Bond as this rail track is where he is on the train. It then cuts to Moneypenny crouching and taking aim with the rifle. The next logical step is to show what she’s aiming at: cut to her point of view through the rifle lense. Can you see how the connection of these elements is starting to furnish a complete 360′ world for the viewer?

The close up on the phone device in the office signals the connection between the two locations. Audio is used to smooth transitions between these images and locations: overlapping the dialogue over the changing images. Rain at the office windows in London and the water that Bond plunges into shows a further connection between the two locations. The rain also provides pathetic fallacy creating a mood for the sequence.

The structural logic of this scene drives the action forward: because we are all adept readers of these language structures, we don’t even think about the cutting together of different images and the various linking devices being used. If our attention was drawn to the construction of the scene, the filmmaker wouldn’t be doing their job properly. The key aim when constructing film and television texts is to engage the viewer in the characters and the story and to create a world to escape into. We should not be aware of the language, unless we’re consciously unpacking it (like above).


See next post for more (click here to go there).

These notes are from my semester one lectures and seminars.
I do not own the above image, it is from:



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