What is Diegesis in Film_

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What is Diegesis in Film?

When writing a screenplay, there are elements of the fictional world that is being created which will not be fully delivered on the screen. The screenwriter, and the filmmaker, must make relevant the fictional time, place, characters and events that are taking place within the story by building up what we know as diegesis in film or the fictional time which is presumed to have already taken place prior to the story being shared on the screen. But, what exactly is diegesis in film and how is it applied?

What is Diegesis in Film?

Diegesis is a Greek word which means narration or narrative. Diegesis in film comes from the idea that there are certain elements.

Such as fictional time, place, characters, and events which make up the universe or fictional world in which the story is set.

We see the term “diegesis” most frequently used as a root in the terms diegetic and non-diegetic sound.

Realistically Audible

Diegetic sound, is sound which takes place within the story and which the characters within the story can hear. Thus, just like diegesis is the fictional world in which the story is set.

Including the characters, the time, the place and the events taking place within that world. Diegetic sound is the noise that is taking place within the fictional world.

Likewise, non-diegetic sound is noise that characters cannot hear because it takes place outside the fictional world that is created.

How is Diegesis Used in Film?

Diegesis represents the film’s events which are presumed to have already occurred. As well as actions and spaces that may not be shown on the screen.

Narrative elements of diegesis are either shown or they can be immediately inferred from the context of the film.

The primary focus is not implication. But rather that diegesis in film is a methodological analysis of discerning the nature of the film. Including the action and dialogue which takes place.

Any and Everything Inside

Whenever the narrative world or the fictional world of the story is referenced in a film we are using diegesis in film. Diegesis thus is the spatio-temporal world that is depicted within the film.

And which includes anything and everything that takes place within that world. Or which is included within the film’s narrative world.

Such as dialogue, character actions, a road sign that represents a particular location, sounds, or events that take place in the fictional world.

The Takeaway

So what is diegesis in film? It’s essentially the narrative world that is conceived by the filmmaker.

And includes all of the characters, sounds, events, and elements of the fictional world which take place within the world.