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The Devil Wears Prada : A Non-Verbal Perspective

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The Devil Wears Prada : A Non-Verbal Perspective

Presented By : Malay Shah

1. Background :

The movie “ The Devil Wears Prada “, as subtly suggested by the title, is set in the backdrop of the myriad world of top notch haute couture houses вЂ" an ostensibly uber world where pretensions and facades rule the roost, where interpersonal dynamics change as frequently as the clothes, and where sartorial prowess is the inviolable barometer of one’s finesse, or the lack of it. The intricacies of such a world are delectably intertwined with the story of a simple, ambitious girl, Andrea, who happens to cajole Miranda, the fastidious and stern head honcho of a prominent fashion magazine, Runway, into employing her. Employed she is, and her initial period is anything but smooth. An exacting boss, coupled with sneering colleagues, makes it dawn upon Andrea that in this fashion bubble of a world, the way to anyone’s heart, or good books atleast, is to toe the sartorial line. A dramatic image overhaul transpires, aided by Miranda’s Man Friday, Nigel, and Andrea then experiences a smorgasbord of novel reactions from others , both explicit and otherwise.

She starts brimming with confidence & ebullience, and despite her bosses’ rigorous idiosyncrasies, never shows signs of crumbling. In short, the image makeover affects both her professional and personal lives in varying degrees, and even though she momentarily feels that the world is her oyster, she is not prepared for what she eventually would encounter in life.

This movie, replete with dialogues, is actually also choc-a-bloc with a plethora of portents of non-verbal communication, and this paper attempts to analyse the same.

2. Non-verbal Communication :

We are acquainted with the following types of non-verbal communication :

• Kinesics : facial expression, posture, and gesture

• Oculesics : eye contact

• Haptics : the communication of touch

• Proxemics : the communication of space and proximity

• Appearance : the physical characteristics, the attire and the accessories

• Paralinguistics / Vocalics : variations in pitch, speed, volume, and pauses that convey

meaning

• Chronemics : the effects of time on communication

We will briefly discuss some of them, and correlate them with non-verbal dynamics observable in the movie .

A. Kinesics :

Facial Expressions & Posture :

• Miranda, the boss, perpetually has a neutral expression writ on her visage, and this neutrality comes across as superciliousness, mainly to conceal some deep-seated arrogance when dealing with her subordinates вЂ" Andrea & Emily. Occasionally, her neutral expression shows shades of emotions, like during a party when she dons a pleasantly relaxed expression, as well as in the end, when she secretly smiles seeing Andrea’s carefree and confident demeanour. Her erect posture throughout the movie smacks of immense self-confidence.

• Prior to her makeover, Andrea goes around vacillating from a tense expression to an uplifted expression, expressing anxiety & naivete. She rarely sports a relaxed expression, which she does frequently once her image makeover is through, although there a numerous instances when Andrea deftly uses her facial expressions to convey her emotions. A prominent scene which springs to mind is when she is trying to appease her boyfriend Nate, and dons an uplifted expression to convey love & attention in a placatory way. Her posture is often slumped when faced with a barrage of unrelenting tasks orchestrated by Miranda, though the later half of the flick conveys her new found self belief & confidence through her erect posture. Her encounters with her boss, Miranda are often characterized by crossed arms, which show her in a defensive mood.

• Emily, Andrea’s colleague at office, maintains a droopy expression for a better part of the movie, connoting dismay, shock & suffering. The only traces of a happy expression are noticed when she jeers at Andrea frequently in the initial part of the movie, for her perceived lack of a fashion sense. This brazen act of condescension, done in conjunction with her fashionable office partner-in-crime, is one of the few scenes where she is seen leaning forward to depict openness and intense in belittling Andrea.

• Nigel, Miranda’s art director, sports a neutral expression throughout the flick, while Christian, the bigwig who keeps serenading Andrea throughout the movie, perpetually oozes a keen interest in befriending Andrea through his act of leaning forward in her presence, while his relaxed expression, signifying love & pleasure, just reinforces his aforementioned desire.

B. Oculesics :

Eye Contact :

• Based on eye contacts one person who stands out in the movie is Andrea Sachs. True to her role of a small time girl with big dreams, her eyes constantly search for attention. In the initial part of the movie she through her wide eyed expressions depicts how much she is enthralled by the new environs at her job. Once made to realize her shabby dressing sense, her eyes constantly look for mirrors and people who would compliment her. She directly meets everyone’s eyes giving the others a sense of belongingness to her be it her boss, colleague, boyfriend or even the writer, Christian whom she had a fling with. Even in the worst bullying situations,

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