Christian Metz (critic)

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Christian Metz (French: [mɛts]; December 12, 1931 – September 7, 1993) was a French film theorist, best known for pioneering the application of Ferdinand de Saussure's theories of 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.

  1. ^ "Impersonal Enunciation, or the Place of Film | Books | Columbia University Press". Columbia University Press. Retrieved 2016-06-17. 

Metz died in Paris, aged 61.

Select bibliography[edit]


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