Semiotics and Movies

As I’m still a bit unfamiliar with the correct application of semiotic knowledge, I will try to use something I am familiar with, movie in this case, to illustrate my interpretation of Peirce’s model.

*Spoiler Alert*

The movie I will talk about is Call Me by Your Name, a mind-boggling movie depicting an overwhelming same-sex relationship in 80’s Italy and having scored many nominations during this award season.

When I read about the three modes of signs by Peirce, I immediately relate the theory to one of the most infamous scene in the movie, where one of the lover boys, Elio performs a sex scene with a freshly picked peach. He allegedly fathom the peach as an intimate body part of his lover Elio and caresses it with his fierce desire.

Image result for call me by your name peach

I would relate this scene to Peirce’s iconic mode of sign. Peach functions as the signifier there while the signified can be the intimate body part of the boy’s lover. This also makes me think of the ‘sexting’ culture, where the peach emoji is extensively used to refer human’s bottom; Obviously the public can associate a peach with a body part, so it must have some perceived resemblance.

Meanwhile, the use of peach can also exemplify how parallel structure grant infinity for signs and meanings. Under the context of this movie, the peach is not merely a peach, or a human body part. The director also alludes it to the pure and crude affection between the lovers. Of course, this is not what most of people think of when seeing a peach, but we should still see the possibility of the movie being popular, and the peach as a sign being incessantly disseminated, reconstructed and reciprocated to ultimately become sign for love and desire. For that scenario, mass communication is a catalyst for the production of meaning, which also shows how interpretants can be multiplied by communications, thereby generating numerous meanings.

As a takeaway, I guess art, media and music all have the potential to signify more objects or materials, and the sociocultural environment will eventually be a hodgepodge of meanings.


Daniel Chandler, Semiotics: The Basics. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Routledge, 2007. Excerpts.

Martin Irvine, “Introduction to Signs, Symbolic Cognition, and Semiotics: Part I.”