BreMM19 | Kim

Loli Kim
University of Surrey | Surrey, UK

Conventions in Korean Revenge Cinema: Three pilot studies using ‘Segmented Film Discourse Representation Structures’

‘Segmented Film Discourse Representation Structures’ (SFDRS) were adapted for film in a semantic approach to Multimodal Film Discourse Analysis (Wildfeuer, 2014), from a dynamic semantic theory of discourse that accounts for several interrelated discourse phenomena ‘Segmented Discourse Representation Theory’ (SDRT) (Asher & Lascarides, 2003). SFDRS is a systematic tool for describing the way resources are constructed in film and how this is understood. SFDRS’ diagrammatic form combined with visual stills illustrates how events unfold in filmic discourse, and provides a method for identifying conventions in the narration of events in film. However, SFDRS has not been utilized to investigate narrative conventions. Thus, the aim of this study is to investigate how SFDRS can be utilized to find conventions in film narrative, by testing samples within three constrained events in Korean film samples: Pilot 1 (P-1) two portrayals of revenge acts within the same film, Pilot 2 (P-2) three revenge film endings, and Pilot 3 (P-3) five final shots of avengers. Samples were selected based on their fulfillment of event criteria, and both sequences and single shot pilots were conducted to investigate conventions in both moving and still imagery. P-1 are sequences beginning when protagonists find poison until delivery of poison to the victim. P-2 are sequences beginning when parent and child archetypes are reunited in the final scene until title credits. P-3 are single final shots of the avenger in 5 revenge films. SFDRS is composed by three phenomena: (1) semantic – or – meaningful segments, (2) their composition, and (3) the discourse relations which hold segments based on the truth conditional effects they have on the discourse. To draw SFDRS, predictions about interpretation are made based on demands on content imposed by discourse coherence. Film narrative is segmented based on salient elements which act as referents and result in differentiation between one activity and the next. Within this structure, activities are subject to a hierarchy imposed by the demands of a set of rhetorical relations employed to link segments based on their truth-conditional effects on the content of the narrative event. P-1 had linear patterns in SFDRS phenomena 1,2, and 3 with brief divergence. P-2 had linear patterns in SFDRS phenomena 1,2, and 3 with no divergence. P-3 had patterns in SFDRS phenomena 1 and 2 but not 3, due to 3 being excluded from single shot analyses. Additionally, in P-1 parts of patterns were also repeated in revenge-related activities throughout the film which resulted in cohesion. Findings show discourse configurations within these criteria share conventions in the applicable SFDRS phenomena. Potentially conventions in SFDRS will extend within the current criteria across a large sample, and further conventions will be identifiable within other narrative event criteria. Thus, SFDRS works to identify conventions among samples which adhere to constrained narrative criteria. Its diagrammatic form, in addition to showing discourse conventions, also highlights differences between discourses when divergence occurs from shared conventions. SFDRS shows conventions in both single shots and sequences, demonstrating its suitability for visual artefacts in film and beyond.


Asher, N. & Lascarides, A., 2003. Logics of Conversation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wildfeuer, J., 2014. Film Discourse Interpretation: Towards a New Paradigm for Multimodal Film Analysis, New York: Routledge.


Loli is a PhD student in Film Studies at the School of Literature and Languages at the University of Surrey. She is interested in semantic approaches to Multimodal Film Discourse Analysis, narratology, revenge cinema, and specializes in Korean film. The topic of her PhD thesis is the discourse conventions in portrayals of revenge in Korean film 1960-2018. She investigates what conventions existed in the revenge event during the Depression era of Korean film, if they change through liberalization of the film industry, how this develops until the present 2018, whether change is gradual or wholesale, and how change is implemented.

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