By Pamela Jaye Smith
First of all, it's really simple to access. Organised by symbol type e.g. fire, water, clothes, animals, colour and so on – twenty-three of them in all – but also in the simplicity of how its laid out, from 'What it means' to 'Usage' through examples and written descriptions, it's very easy to get to grips with and then apply to your own work. There's a concise introduction and an introductory chapter outlining how symbols, images and codes work, and then we're straight into the meat of it, and there are some nice suggestions for usage as well. The notes on written descriptions that could be employed and cinematic techniques where Smith describes camera angles and shots that could be used to demonstrate specific symbolism are particularly useful.
Pamela Jaye Smith is an acknowledged world expert on the application of symbols, images and codes within mythic structure and it shows here in the way she opens the subject up, enabling anyone to quickly understand and make use of what she teaches. The knock-on effect is that you will watch things with an entirely new perspective, noting where these techniques are used and knowing why they work, and that kind of education can only deepen the emotional impact of your own work.
If I've got one complaint it's that the sections are a bit light in places, sure the information we get is pure gold, but actually it might be nice to have a companion piece that gives greater depth for those of us for whom the subject has become quite fascinating.
Having said that I'd say that Symbols Images Codes is a real find, and I would suggest that this is a book that will not just work for writers or filmmakers but for artists, sculptors, designers – in fact anyone working in a visual medium and, as such, it is highly recommended.
Symbols Images Codes: The Secret Language Of Meaning In Film, TV, Games, And Visual Media is published by Michael Wiese Books and is available from play.com, Blackwell and all good book stores.
Pamela Jaye Smith has a website.