Emotional Interpretation of Funeral Symbols in Animations

Conference: The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture (KAMC2022)
Title: Emotional Interpretation of Funeral Symbols in Animations
Stream: Climate Change and Arts, Media, Culture
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Rou-Yi Su, National University of Tainan, Taiwan
Hsiang-Lien Lee, National University of Tainan, Taiwan


Following the transition from the traditional Confucian funerals practiced by the ancient Chinese to the contemporary funeral culture in Taiwan, the new generation of amination directors have used symbolic translation to reinterpret and give new meanings to the funeral culture. On the basis of semiotic theories and the funeral culture of Taiwan, this study explored the use of funeral symbols in animations. Interviews were conducted with funeral service providers, and a literature review and case analysis were performed. The study cases focused on the funeral scenes of the short films A Gong (2018) and ─One After Another (2020) and the feature film On Happiness Road (2017). In these films, the directors used visual symbols, shots, and scenes to convey characters’ emotions and present the transformation of funeral practices in Taiwan. The films were observed to share common characteristics in the use of conventional symbols. Moreover, the directors reinforced the plot tension through character actions, lighting contrasts, camera angles, visual compositions, and soundtracks. Two objective forms were also arranged to interpret their corresponding symbolic meanings, namely the significance of ritual behaviors and family bonds. Specifically, joss papers were folded into the shape of motorcycle, and paper lotuses were converted to paper boats in the films. In the new generation of animation works, symbolic meanings are redefined or reinforced through character emotions, which in turn facilitate emotional resonance with the audience.

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