What is it about?

One of the most deeply-entrenched ways to conceptualize achieving a goal is by metaphorically comparing it to undertaking a journey. A journey's beginning ("source"), middle ("path"), and end ("goal") correspond to the formulation of a problem or a lack, the strategy to overcome this, and the resulting success -- or failure. This paper analyses three autobiographical "road movie" documentaries in which the filmmaker undertakes a journey: Ross McElwee’s Sherman’s March (1986), Johan van der Keuken’s De Grote Vakantie [The Long Holiday] (2001) and Frank Cole’s Life Without Death (1999). The paper’s aim is double-edged: to demonstrate the necessity of studying the JOURNEY metaphor in multimodal, rather than just in purely verbal manifestations; and to show how the JOURNEY metaphor both enriches and constrains possible interpretations of the three documentaries under consideration.

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Why is it important?

Describing how people embark on a journey is a very effective way to structure how they confront a problem or acquire self knowledge (think of pilgrimages); indeed, it may be most pervasive way in which human beings formulate their goals in life, and thereby shapes our understanding of what constitutes a PURPOSEFUL LIFE.


Examining conceptual metaphors in the sense of Lakoff and Johnson (1980) in other media than (written) language can reveal media-specific dimensions of such metaphors and shed light on human cognition.

Dr Charles Forceville
Universiteit van Amsterdam

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This page is a summary of: THE SOURCE–PATH–GOAL SCHEMA IN THE AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL JOURNEY DOCUMENTARY, New Review of Film and Television Studies, December 2006, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/17400300600982023.
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