Christian Metz (critic)
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Christian Metz Critic

Christian Metz (French: [m?ts]; December 12, 1931 - September 7, 1993) was a French film theorist, best known for pioneering film semiotics, the application of Ferdinand de Saussure's theories of semiotics/semiology to film.


Metz was born in Béziers. During the 1970s, his work had a major impact on film theory in France, Britain, Latin America and the United States.

In Film Language: A Semiotics of Cinema, Metz focuses on narrative structure -- proposing the "Grand Syntagmatique", a system for categorizing scenes (known as "syntagms") in films.

Metz applied both Sigmund Freud's psychology and Jacques Lacan's mirror theory to the cinema, proposing that the reason film is popular as an art form lies in its ability to be both an imperfect reflection of reality and a method to delve into the unconscious dream state.

In his final work, Impersonal Enunciation, Metz "uses the concept of enunciation to articulate how films 'speak' and explore where this communication occurs, offering critical direction for theorists who struggle with the phenomena of new media."[1] Published in French in 1991, Impersonal Enunciation received little attention in the English-speaking world until it was translated in 2016, an indicator of a resurgence of interest in Metz as a scholar whose far-sighted work on multi-screen environments was well before its time.

Metz died in Paris, aged 61, having taken his own life.[2]

Select bibliography

  • Film Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema (ISBN 0-226-52130-3)
  • The Imaginary Signifier: Psychoanalysis and the Cinema (ISBN 0-253-20380-5)
  • Language and Cinema (ISBN 90-279-2682-4)
  • Impersonal Enunciation, or the Place of Film (ISBN 0-231-17367-9)


  1. ^ "Impersonal Enunciation, or the Place of Film | Books | Columbia University Press". Columbia University Press. Retrieved .
  2. ^ Flitterman-Lewis, Sandy (1994). "Tribute to Christian Metz". Discourse. Wayne State University Press. 16 (3): 3-5.


  • Jean Mitry, La Sémiologie en question : Language et cinéma, Paris, Cerf, 1987.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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