A Semoitic Critical Discourse Analysis of Selected Amharic Films of Ethiopia: With Reference to ‘ZUMRA’ and ‘SEMAYAWI Feres

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Addis Ababa University


Film production started in Ethiopia 90 years ago. However, its development was stagnated for long and began flourishing in the 1980s. With the development of film production, nonetheless, critical and professional recognitions of films have not yet been developed along with popular recognition of films. This study was intended to find out discursive practices of a society by using film semiotics as an approach under the umbrella of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to give critical recognition to the selected films_ ‘Zumra’ and Semayawi Feres’. The study used qualitative method of analysis using the selected films as primary and related documents as the secondary sources of data. The researcher has used, as his method of analysis, Chandler’s (2000) categories of codes and adapted Fiske’s semiotic model in order to match with CDA and the consequent discursive practices in the selected films. In ‘Zumra’ film, racial discrimination and its subsequent results are vocalized via social, interpretative, syntagmatic and paradigmatic codes. These codes are moved by two regulatory codes_ racism and love. Setting, background music, pictures, customs, events, natural phenomena (darkness) and psychological state of affairs are some of the signs which reflect implicit meanings. Similarly, in Semayawi Feres’, the political discourse is the main salient feature of the film. In this film, the controversies of the Blue Nile are the top agenda. In the film, colors (white, black, green, red, and yellow) are manipulated as broadcast codes. Besides, flags, cars, pictures, statues, flowers, highways, games and conversations reinforce hidden meanings of the Blue Nile controversies. In addition to these, as in the film ‘Zumra’, darkness and brightness have been manipulated for echoing implicit meanings. Thus, this study contributes, in a modest way, to suggesting a systematic approach to the study of Ethiopian films in order to appreciate and evaluate their communicative and aesthetic impact as a powerful mass medium using semiotic discourse practices.



Zumra’ And ‘Semayawi Feres