Analysis of Communication in a Scene from The Devil Wears Prada 1
The identity of the main character, Miranda Priestly in the movie The Devil Wears Prada is clearly constructed in the one of the first scenes of the movie when she interacts with her new assistant, Andy. Miranda strategic communicator who incorporates many of the concepts of communication, both verbal and more importantly in this case, nonverbal. Miranda defines herself in her opening scene as a strong, confident and successful woman. She posits herself as a force not to be reckoned with and not afraid or intimidated by anyone. Her body language, her verbal communication style and the use of space in her office define who she is. Although the conversation between the fashion editor and her new assistant is brief, the assistant walks away completely understanding who her new boss is and what she represents and just a little afraid of her.
The various types of identity are introduced in this scene. We come to see Miranda as Miranda sees herself. Miranda’s master identity is that of a white, middle aged woman. The viewer can only discern that she is American, but all signs of cultural and regional characteristics are devoid. It is as if she has deliberately erased those aspects of herself so that people cannot judge her on those qualities. The relational identity we see in this scene, is that of a boss and her employees. Miranda appears to be the queen bee among her drones. She is interacting with several employees at different levels of the corporate structure as well as her brand new assistant. She engages and relates to the more senior employees in a slightly less formal way. Her identity in the way she interacts with Andy is curt and harsh. Miranda’s personal identity is clearly shown to be that of a confident, successful woman.
Analysis of Communication in a Scene from The Devil Wears Prada 3
Miranda’s use of territoriality is brilliant. In the most primal sense we can see that her office and outer office where Andy works are clearly her space. In fact, the entire lot of offices that are used by the magazine are clearly her hunting grounds and territory. The décor reflects her clean, personal style. The area is very spacious for an office in New York City. The principle of territoriality is clearly demonstrate on Andy’s first day, a moment before her first conversation with Miranda. When the call comes in that Miranda is on her way to the office, the employees run in twenty directions, they know when Miranda arrives, this entire space will be her domain. As she breezes through the outer office, she drops her purse and coat right on Andy’s desk. The clearly indicates without a word, that the office and the desk are Miranda’s, regardless of who may be occupying at the moment.
Miranda has also developed a command of the use of personal space. There are levels of space that surround all of us in concentric circles. Each level of the circle denotes the relationship we have with the person we allow into tat area. The more intimate we are with someone, the closer we will allow them to our physical self. Friends we allow not quite as close. In a professional relationship, most humans allow for several feet between them and their employer/employee. Miranda engages none of the distance for personal space with Andy. In fact she keeps Andy as far away as possible as in a formal, public speaking distance. This ensures that Miranda is the star of the show. It tells Andy that she is a mere member of the audience. Miranda’s use of such a great amount of distance lets Andy know in no uncertain terms, that Andy is there to worship and learn from Miranda. There is no chance of getting any closer to Miranda. Miranda’s use of this formal distance eliminates the need for any casual or informal communications with Andy.
Analysis of Communication in a Scene from The Devil Wears Prada 4
Miranda’s use of kinesics is sublime. She enters the office with a strong walk with long strides in an affect display that speaks of authority and confidence. She barely registers emotion with facial expressions or gestures. The slightest movement of her eye gaze, or the tightness of her lips is the most overt facial expression Miranda gives. Her facial expression in this particular scene, a slight squint of the eyes and a subtle tightening of the mouth indicate irritation on her n magazine,leaves the office. Miranda also uses regulators to control the flow of the conversation between herself and Andy. Miranda is in charge of the dialog and controls Andy’s part in it by regulating the length of Andy’s part of the dialog and the amount she is allowed to contribute. She cuts the length of conversation by simply turning her head slightly away from Andy to return to the task at hand. This is her way of dismissing her new assistant. Miranda uses illustrators in her communication with Andy also. By simply moving her hand to her chin to emphasize a look that she gives Andy’s unfortunately ugly shoes, Andy knows that she will be in for trouble with her new boss. Upon leaving the office, she enlists the aid of a stylist to help her get some decent shoes and clothes.
Mirands all makes brilliant use of chronemics during her dialog with Andy and the other stylists and editors. Despite being the head of a huger fashion magazine, Miranda displays a monochromic style of speech and work. She speaks slowly and deliberately. She devotes all of her attention to a single matter at a time. This tells her audience that her opinion and her thoughts are paramount. Other ideas that are being communicated are not nearly as important as hers. She does not multitask on any level, instead she leaves that to her staff. By keeping herself purposeful in her communications and work style, her expectations of her staff to get everything
Analysis of Communication in a Scene from The Devil Wears Prada 5
Another form of nonverbal communication that gives Andy and insight into the person that Miranda is, are the artifacts and environment of her office. Her office is minimal. It is painted in subtle colors. The furniture is modern and tends to simply blend into the room. There much sunlight and air in the office. It is apparent that Miranda is the center of attention in her office. She does not clutter her office with ostentatious items such as oversized art work or bright showy colors and furniture. There is nothing that speaks of Miranda’s personal life in her office, except for a simple discreet frame and photo of her daughters. The picture would not even be noticed until she picks it up and refers to it. The artifacts found in her office are always related to the fashion industry. Every morning the newest fashion publications are lined up on her desk by Andy. Whenever there is an editorial discussion, the latest clothes and accessories are brought into her office, however, nothing ever stays. In this particular conversation with Andy in the movie, Miranda uses her artifacts carefully and unobtrusively to hit home her message to Andy. As she picks up and puts down belts and skirts during her conversation, she is punctuating her judgement of Andy and her appearance.
Of all the verbal and nonverbal principles that Miranda uses so adeptly, her use of voclics is powerful. The tone of her voice is even, a little low and strong. The rate of her speech is slow and deliberate. Her volume is soft but demonstrates strength. She is so talented in other areas of communication that she barely has to make use spoken word. As for haptics, Miranda does not use touch with anyone. Throughout the scene she keeps her physical self in check. She never
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Extends a hand to shake or lean in for a kiss during this scene. Again, she is demonstrating to Andy that she is in charge here and emotion does not play a part in her business world.
The character of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, is clearly the queen of her court. She is the master of communication. She expresses herself intelligently and unquestioningly. Her tone is even and strong. When she speaks, everyone in the room listens. Her interaction with Andy, leaves Andy with a very clear idea of what kind of person Miranda is. In their short conversation, Andy realizes that working for Miranda will not be easy. She understands immediately that Miranda is demanding, she hold those around her to the same high standard she holds herself. Her confidence is unwavering, her very gesture, and lack of gestures, her subtle facial expressions and her use of vocabulary also show Andy that her new boss is strong and no nonsense. Her timing and use of time in communication also gives us insight to a woman who does not waste her time. Miranda knows her time is valuable and will not have those around her waste it with clarifications in communications or not following direct orders. Andy understands from their brief conversation that the expectation of her from Miranda will not be those of the ordinary sort. Taking phone messages and asking for clarification will not work. Andy is entering the kingdom of Miranda. Miranda is not there to teach and train her. Miranda’s expectations are for and to get with her program at once.
This initial conversation between Miranda and Andy provides all the information one will need to understand the characters and where they will be headed in this movie. Miranda’s communication style in those few minutes tell us, the audience and new assistant, Andy everything we need to know about one of the most powerful women in publishing.