Representation of Architectural Space in Asghar Farhadi’s Cinema Based on Semiotics Approach Case Study: “The Salesman” Movie

Document Type : Research Article


1 Ph.D. Candidate in Architecture, Department of Architecture, Shabestar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Shabestar, Iran.

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, Shabestar Branch, Islamic Azad University, Shabestar, Iran.

3 Assistant Professor, Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran.

4 Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, Tehran North Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran.


Statement of the problem: In recent years, the increasing closeness between architecture and cinema disciplines the characteristics and mutual effects of which have been fully understood, has become a serious academic subject. As a popular media and influential expressive tool, cinema plays a significant role in creating meaning, establishing an emotional relationship with the audience, narrating, and characterizing by the representation of the architectural space. However, what has been neglected in the Iranian cinema is the accurate theorization of the interdisciplinary interaction between these two areas and the solutions to apply the effect of the capacities of architecture in order to the manifestation of the meaning in the movie space.
Research objective: The current study aims to analyze the dramatic function of architectural spaces’ elements and physique in Asghar Farhadi’s cinema, especially “The Salesman”, and discover the latent and manifest concepts of the screenplay signs.
Research method: This research is a descriptive-analytical research based on the qualitative content analysis and Saussure’s semiotics framework.
Conclusion: The results obtained from the studies indicate that in Farhadi’s cinema, the architectural structure of space, not only as of the background of the story but also as a factor involved in the process of films, is consistent with the behavior of the characters and the theme of the works. Also, it indicates the feelings and even perception of specific meanings of each film. Also, each element and factor of architectural space is represented based on semantic purposes and particular semiotics. The results also show that in “The Salesman”, a great volume of signs is applied intangibility and purposive in various spatial and physical elements of architecture, such as a house, color, light, texture, opening, and objects, for the dramatic narration of the story, conveyance of its latent meanings, the definition of function and moods of characters, and stimulation of the audience’s feelings.


Abedi, M. H., Etesam, I., Mokhtabad Amrei, S. M & Shahcheraghi, A. (2018). How to translate dramatic narrative into dramatic space using mise-en-scene elements relying on the sense of place theory. Theater, (73), 96-113.
Afshar, H. & Kamalinia, F. (2018). Analysis of the visual structure of Farhadi’s films (With analysis of About Eli, A Separation and The Past). Honar-Ha-Ye-Ziba: Honar-Ha-Ye-Namayeshi-Va-Mosighi, 23(4), 37-46.
Alaghemandan Motlagh, N. (2012). Baznemayi-ye me’mari-e asil-e Irani dar sinema-ye Ali Hatami ba negahi be film-e “Madar” [Representation of Iranian architecture in Ali Hatami’s cinema by having look to Madar film]. Honar, (85-86), 21-36.
Amini, P. & Sarparastsadat, S. (2018). “A Separation”’s Epistemological and Sociological Symbols. LA REVUE SCIENCE DE L’INFORMATION, 7(28), 141-160.
Aminzadeh, N. (2019). Vakavi-ye memari-ye faza va tajrobe-ye edrak-e an dar asar-e Abbas Kiarostami [Analysis of space architecture and the experience of its perception in the works of Abbas Kiarostami] (Unpublished master’s thesis). Faculty of cinema and theater, Art University Of Tehran, Iran.
Amirsardari, Y., Foroutan, M., Moazzami, M. & Mohammadi, M. (2019). Residential tower in the cinema frame; semiological exploratory study of high-rise residential buildings in the cinema after the Islamic Revolution of Iran. Bagh-e Nazar, 16(74), 19-34.
Askarzadeh, Z. & Zarif Asyaban, D. (2016). Cinematic landscape in “Breathless”. Journal of Art and Civilization of the Orient, 4(14), 13-20.
Balilan Asl, L. & Eskandari, M. (2017). Architectural features of the place in designing the scenes with national identity: in Iranian movies “Pari” by Mehrjouei and “Mother” by Hatami. National Studies, 18(3), 105-124.
Berger, A. A. (2004). Media and Analysis Techniques (P. Ejlali, Trans.). Tehran: Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
Braudy, L. & Cohen, M. (2017). Film Theory and Criticism 1: Introductory Readings (B. Tabraiya, Trans.). Tehran: Hekmat-e Sina.
Bromwen, M. & Ringham, F. (2000). Dictionary of Semiotics. Cassell: London & New York.
Chandler, D. (2015). Semiotics: The Basics (M. Parsa, Trans.).Tehran: Pazhouheshkade-ye Farhang va Honar-e Eslami.
Dabagh, A. M. & Mokhtabad Amrei, S. M. (2014). Reading the architecture of contemporary mosques in Tehran with semiotics approach. Naqshejahan - Basic Studies and New Technologies of Architecture and Planning, 4(2), 22-35.
Ejlali, P. & Goharipour, H. (2014). City-Image in Iranian and French New Wave of Cinema: A comparative study. Journal of Architecture and Urban Planning, 6(12), 5-22.
Ejlali, P. & Goharipour, H. (2015). Depicting the “city” in Iranian films: 1930-2011. Social Sciences, 22(68), 229-278.
Eslami, M. (2016). Sahne-ha-yi az Yek Ezdevaj: Molahezat-i darbareye Faza va Shahr [Scenes from a Marriage: Considerations about Space and City in Cinema]. Tehran: Herfe-ye Honarmand.
Ghahramani, M., Piravi Vanak, M., Mazaherian, H. & Sayyad, A. (2015). The moving body of the spectator and formation of spatial sequences in cinematic architecture. Honar-Ha-Ye-Ziba: Memari-va-Shahrsazi, 19(4), 27-36.
Goharipour, H. (2012). Depicting the “city” in Iranian films: 1930-2011 (Unpublished master’s thesis) Faculty of Social Sciences, Allameh Tabataba’i Unversity, Tehran, Iran.
Goharipour, H. (2019). Narratives of a lost space: A semiotic analysis of central courtyards in Iranian cinema. Frontiers of Architectural Research, 8(2), 164-174.
Goharpour, H. (2010). Khesht-ha-yi ke nema-ha-ye sinema mishavand [The bricks that become cinema scenes]. Ayne-ye Khiyal, (11), 80-84.
Habibi, M., Farahmandian, H. & Basiri Mojdehi, R. (2016). Reflection of urban space in Iranian cinema: A review of the last two decades. Cities, (50), 228-238.
Hashemizadeh, S., Delavar, A. & Mozaffari, A. (2017). Iranian identity and cinema; representation of Iranian identity in the movie “Mother”. National Studies, 18(1), 85-102.
Hosseini, S. B., Abizade, E. & Bagheri, V. (2009-2010). Architecture and the cinema the identity establishing complementary elements of space and place. Armanshahr, 2(3), 113-120.
Khoshbakht, E. (2010). Celluliod Architecture. Tehran: Kasra & Herfe-ye Honarmand.
Koeck, R. (2013). Cine Scapes: Cinematic Spaces in architecture and Cities. Abingdon: Routledge.
Loghmani, H. Etesam, I. & Zabihi, H. (2019). Analyzing the structure of urban elements “dar donya-ye to sa’at chand ast?” An overview of the relationship between the city and the cinema. Haft Hesar, 7(27), 29-42.
Madanipour, A. (2012). Representation of space in contemporary Iranian cinema. Iran Nameh, 27(1), 122-140.
Mahdavinejad, G., Mahdavinejad, M., Toghrayi, A. & Qazipoor, S. (2013). An iconological analysis of city concept in mainstream and independent cinema (1980-2010). Dramatic Arts and Music, 3(6), 75-89.
Moazzami, M. (2012). The instructor’s interpretation of space and its influence on architectural education. Honar-Ha-Ye-Ziba: Memary-Va-Shahrsazi, 3(4), 57-68.
Mokhtabad Amrei, S. M & Panahi, S. (2007). Barrasi va tahlil-e naghsh-e memari-ye dakheli dar tajalli-ye ma’na dar film-ha-ye elmi-takhayyoli [Investigating the role of interior architecture in the manifestation of meaning in science fiction films]. Honar-ha-ye Ziba, 30(30), 107-118.
Motamedi, H. & Mirza Kouchak Khoshnevis, A. (2019). Using cinematic components and concepts in architectural design with the theme of motion. Interdisciplinary Studies in Communication and Media, 2(1), 152-174.
Mousavi, V. & Hoseini Sangtarashani, S. (2015). Knowledge and modern cinema an analytical look at Michelangelo Antonioni’s Trio. Dramatic Arts and Music, 5(9), 45-64.
Pallasmaa, J. (2016). The Architecture of Image: Existential Space in Cinema (A. Abhari, Trans.). Tehran: Ketab-e Mes.
Panahi, S. (2019). Architecture and Spiritual Cinema. Tehran: Asr-e Kankash.
Penz, F. & Thomas M. (2009). Cinema and Architecture (Sh. Ja’farinezhad, Trans.). Tehran: Soroush.
Pourja’fari, M. (2016). Peyvand-e memari va sinema [The Relationship between Architecture and Cinema]. Sakhteman, (63), 56-57.
Radaee, S. (2014). Place in Recent approaches of Indian cinema. Journal of Art and Civilization of the Orient, 1(2), 40-50.
Rahimian, M. (2010). Cinema: Architecture in Motion. Tehran: Soroush.
Ramzy, Sh. (2013). Visual language in Mamluk architecture: A semiotic analysis of the Funerary Complex of Sultan Qaitbay in Cairo. Frontiers of Architectural Research, 2(3), 338-353.
Ravadrad, A. & Mirzadeh Targhi, E. (2017). Semiotic analysis of women representing in Asghar Farhadi’s films. Sociology of Art and Literature, 9(1), 53-77.
Ravanshadnia, S., Mokhtabad Amrei, M., Diba, D. & Panahi, S. (2020). Sociological analysis of Tehran city in the cinematic works of the 1960s and 1970s with an emphasis on “Brick and Mirror” and “the Cycle” films. Armanshahr, 13(30), 57-67.
Rezaei, M., Hasanpour, A. & Daneshgar, S. (2014). Representation of class and class relationships in Iranian cinema, case study of “a Separation: Nader and Simin”. Iranian Cultural Research, 7(2), 117-148.
Rezazadeh, R. & Farahmndian, H. (2010). Reflection of urban space in modern Iranian cinema. Honar-Ha-Ye-Ziba: Memari-Va-Shahrsazi, 2(42), 13-24.
Riazi, S. & Saleh Bolourdi, A. (2018). Social representation of city in the “Seller” film. Sociolinguistics, 1(1), 77-91.
Sadeghi Fasaee, S. & Parvaei, S. (2017). Representation of family relations in Asghar Farhadi’s films with the approach of pathological. Sociology of Art and Literature, 9(1), 29-52.
Saffaran, E & Malekshahian, G. (2019). Barasi-ye neshaneshenakhti-ye anasor-e dini dar film-ha-ye “Zir-e-Noor-e Mah”, “Ye Habbe Ghand” va “Emruz” Reza Mirkarimi [Semiotic study of religious elements in the films “Under the Moonlight”, “A Cube of Sugar” and “Today” by Reza Mirkarimi. Pazhohesh dar Honar va Olume-e Ensani, 3(2), 57-74.
Sajjadifar, V., Ishany, T. & Bavanpouri, M. (2019). Tahlil-e neshane shenasi-ye managara dar film-e “Foroushandeh” [Semantic semiotic analysis in the movie “The Saleman”]. Dramatic Literature and Visual Arts, 3(7), 73-88.
Samim, R., Samdani, M & Amjadi, A. (2015). Baznemayi-ye manzar va sima-ye kalbadi-ye shahr-e Tehran dar sinema-ye mo’aser-e Iran [Representation of the physical landscape of Tehran in contemporary Iranian cinema]. Society Culture Media, 4(13), 65-86.
Sarabi, A. & Molanaee, S. (2017). A Comparative study between cinema and architecture with the approach of teaching architecture via film. Iranian Architecture & Urbanism, 8(2), 157-172.
Shahba, M. & Alipanahloo, M. (2018). Time and Character in Asghar Farhadi’s A Seperation. Dramatic Arts and Music, 8(15), 73-88.
Shahba, M. & Tabarsa, M. (2012). Semantic implications of mise-en-scene in the Iranian art cinema. Honar--Ha-Ye-Ziba: Honar-Ha-Ye-Namayeshi-Va-Mosighi, 3(2), 35-45.
Shahba, M., Ghafourian, M. & Nikkhah Abyane, A. (2018). A Semiotic approach to discourse analysis: a case study of the movie: “A Cube of Sugar”. Cultural Studies & Communication, 13(49), 13-48.
Sojoudi, F. (2008). Neshaneshenasi-ye Karbordi [Applied Semiotic]. Tehran: Elm.
Vidler, A. (1992). The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Yousefi, M. (2018). Rabete-ye me’mari va sinema dar asr-e majazi shodan [The relationship between architecture and cinema in the age of virtualization]. Shebak, 4(8), 1-7.
Zia’bakhsh, N. & Mokhtabad Amrei, S. M. (2012). Study on the sacred meaning of natural light in architectural spaces of two films: “Winter Light” and “Pari”. Honar-Ha-Ye Ziba: Mosighi-Va-Namayeshi, 3(42), 59-70.