Sample Communications Paper on Communication in Films

Communication in Films


Communication is the process of passing information from one party to another through a particular media. Communication dates back to the start of time. Effective communication is necessary in ensuring information meets the required objectives. Media chosen in passing the information is an essential parameter in the process of communication. Conflict arises when miscommunication occurs which might be a result of misunderstanding of the information or delay in receiving information. Good communication foster a good relationship, builds networks and understanding among different parties. The process occurs over time, locations and contexts. The contexts are viewed as a combination and interrelationship between people creating a communication environment. These contexts are of many forms which include; interpersonal communication, group communication, mass communication, organizational communication and gender communication.

Interpersonal communication is a face-to-face communication by which two people verbally or nonverbally exchange information and ideas (Adler, Rosenfeld & Proctor, 2004). It includes gestures, facial expressions and body language that are understood by the parties. The film of choice is 24. This is a series movie with numerous episodes in each series. The study will duel on season one episode one of the movie which lasts for forty two minutes forty three seconds. This paper studies the context of interpersonal communication in this episode. It investigates and outlines the use of this context in the episode and its relevance and importance in communication of ideas. This paper also analyzes the various concepts of communication and how they affect the communication process in the episode and their effectiveness. The use of different communication terms are also analyzed and outlined. The paper will accomplish the identification and analysis of the use of the different communication parameters in obtaining the flow witnessed in the episode. Communication terms like self-disclosure, relational dialectics, semiotics and various concepts are identified in the episode and their application in attaining the general flow of the movie is explained.

The movie is about an attempt to assassinate a presidential candidate on the day of California primary. It narrates the chronology of events as it occurs starting at mid-night of the California primary. David Palmer who is the presidential hopeful is entangled in political scandals which are threatening his ascend to power. Palmers’ daughter was raped several years ago and his son is suspected to have killed the rapist. Jack Bauer who is a Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) director takes the center role in trying to counter the assassins. The situation turns personal when Jacks’ daughter and wife are kidnapped by the terrorists.

Communication analysis in the film 24

Context communication

Context of communication is generally the interaction of people which creates up a communication scenario. It includes interpersonal communication, group communication, media communication, organizational communication among others.

Interpersonal communication is a face-to-face communication by which two people verbally or nonverbally exchange information and ideas. There are basic principles of interpersonal communication which govern the efficient and effectiveness of communication. The principles are to be put into consideration when practicing this type of communication in order to avoid complications: the following are the basic principles of interpersonal communication.

The process is irreversible. This means that after passing the intended information to the audience it is not easy to reverse what you have said i.e. once it’s out its out. This principle is very important for the communicator as it models him to be very precise when communicating. It ensures effective communication as the sender emphasizes on the most important parts of his speech. This principle builds confidence in the sender because he is sure of what he is delivering. In the film Palmer (presidential candidate), mentions by mistake that his son might have been involved in the murder of the person who raped his sister and that his wife might have been involved in covering it up. This statement turns back to haunt him and become a complicated issue to deal with.

Interpersonal communication is, in most cases, contextual from the fact that it cannot take place in isolation. It must have a degree of psychological context, which gives meaning to who the person is and the subsequent to the process of interaction. When communicating the environment in which you are passing information plays a big role in ensuring its effectiveness. For example a noise environment should be avoided when passing information. Interpersonal communication also takes into account cultural behaviors as well as other rules that may affect the interaction process. The hierarchy of both the sender and the recipient dictates the communication outcome. Juniors are expected to humbly communicate and listen to the senior ranked persons. Palmers’ decision is the final regardless of whether the rest of the team is in agreement. At the CTU offices the seniors determine what is to be done by the junior and in some instances their directives are not to be questioned.

The context of Group communication is where by information in share between a numbers of people. If group communication is carefully cultivated it brings about high quality group discussions. The group members develop a sense of ownership and belonging which helps them work towards a common goal. Maintaining eye contact is an essential attribute in ensuring quality group discussing. Poor group communication leads to disunity among members creating a poor working environment. In the film, group communication plays a key role in fostering a good working environment in the CTU camp. Division of labor and specialization has been made possible. When information about a suspect if needed the message is relayed to all the members and each team works toward achieving the goal. Group communication creates personal relationship between members; this is evident when Nina communicates about the death of Janet York, the team is emotionally affected.

Mass communication is a context of communication in which information is passed through mass media. This information type is associated with one source and recipient of the information are many. This communication generally entails that the source of information in from a single sender and numerous recipients. In the film, the progress of presidential campaign is passed through television. The progress of the campaign and the pre-election statistics are accessed through watching of television. At the CTU office, mobile phones are interconnected making it possible for one single sender can communicate with many recipients.

Communication terms

Relational dialectics is a communication terminology that focuses on the contradiction and controversies in relationships. A relationship is described as a form of union in which two people from distinct background compromise for the sake of understanding between them. A constant communication pattern that brings instability promotes unhealthy relationship. Important communication attributes that foster good relationship include; closeness and openness, certainty and uncertainty, separation and connectedness. Communication is an important tool in promoting relations. In the film, Palmer receives a phone call from Maureen Kingslegh, after the phone call, his wife asks about the details of the conversation and he says it’s nothing; this does not go down well with her. This is likely to cause a relationship breakdown due to lack of openness. At the CTU some employees feel that they have been sidelined by Jack and Nina Myers since they segregate themselves and speak in low tones, when other colleagues approach they disperse, this doesn’t promote a team work spirit in which communication should be built on openness and closeness. Relational dialectics can be used to determine interpersonal associations through observation of body language and facial expression. . Nonverbal communication can be used to predict interpersonal relationship. In the film, Tony Almeida asks’ Nina Myers if she has an intimate relationship with Jack. He explains that he has observed their suspicious association and the level of secrecy between them. Nonverbal communication has been developed between Jack, Nina and Tony that enables them to secretly communicate confidential information. Another term that is associated with communication is self-disclosure.

Self-disclosure is a communication term in which one person explains himself to another person. Information that is relayed can be an explanation of his personal thought about an issue, his goals, failures, expectation or the general opinion about a situation (Adler, Rosenfeld & Proctor, 2004). It helps to reveal expectation or thoughts. It also gives an overview of the fears that the sender of the information expects. In the film, the leader of the assassins speaks about how he has handled traitors in the past. His revelation gives his new recruits a view of how ruthless and shroud he is. An increase in emotional attachment and empathy is developed due to self-disclosure in situations where the sender is perceived to have suffered emotional dissatisfaction. This attribute also helps to understand the character of the person speaking which will increase the likeability of the character. It involves two major steps; first, the character discloses information that is neither too personal nor too general, secondly, the self-disclosure is then received with sympathy or respect. Stewart (2008) argues that when self-disclosure meets with negative response it can lead to an end of a relationship. In the first episode of the movie, Jack Bauer (the detective) gives a piece of his mind by saying what awaits him. He explains that there are plans to assassinate the presidential candidate, his daughter and wife have been kidnapped by unknown assailant and he think that people he is working with might be involved in both cases, and he then concludes that he is certain it will be the longest day of his life. This gives an insight of what viewers expect, it creates and environment of betrayal but also put a suspense on who the betrayer is likely to be. The facial expression and the coarseness in his voice reveal the magnitude of his concern and create a feeling of sympathy from the viewers.  Jack’s daughter in a conversation with his father enquires about her mother referring her to ‘she’. This shows the level of emotional disconnection between the two of them. Jack ends the conversation by ordering her to go to sleep; he is disturbed by this conversation. This is a clear indication that poor use of language can terminate a conversation. At the CTU offices Jack and his colleagues try to establish the reason behind Palmers’ assassination treats, one of his colleagues confidently says it’s because he is black, this builds a feeling of empathy around other colleagues and makes them to have a feeling establishing the person behind the assassination attempt. Apart from the terms various communication concept need to be analyzed for effective communication. These concepts may include: the communicators, media through which the information is passed, message, noise and channel among others.

Concepts and barriers to effective communication

According to (Wood, 2013), communicator is either the sender or the recipient of the information, for effective communication to occur there must be a willing sender and a willing recipient of the message. The recipient should also be ready to reply the message if need be. Communication barriers between the communicators lead in a breakdown of the communication process. The sender and the recipient must be in need of the information and must be willing to listen. In the film when Bauer enters CIA director office to make a request, the director shows no interest in what is being said but instead continues with his chores, this annoys Bauer (sender) and he resorts to a physical confrontation. This is one of the frustrating effects of communication breakdown. Tony is frustrated when he talks to Nina and she doesn’t concentrate, she continues to read through a report and doesn’t even raise her head to look at him. Tony is disturbed and protests on this character and complains of being treated as an underdog. When the CTU detectives capture a suspect they believe to be having the information on the intended assassination, the suspect is unwilling to speak, and when he speaks he gives irrelevant information that is no helpful to the team. Willingness by both parties to give relevant information is a key requirement to communication, unwillingness of either parties leads to frustrations.

For effective communication to occur the message being send should be understandable to both parties (DeVito, 2015). When the information is not common to either of them, the recipient will not give an appropriate feedback which might be interpreted by the sender as disinterest from the recipient.  More decoding time may be required to explain the information before the required feedback can be achieved, this is usually frustrating if then information needs a quick response. If the information is complicated to one party, a common agreement might not be attained. The recipient might end up being non responsive. This might resort to the sender deciding to undertake a task that would otherwise be performed collectively as an individual. In the episode, Jack tries to explain to Tony the controversial situation before the plane crush but Tony seem not to be aware of any plane crush. This frustrates Jack who dismisses him and decides to personally pursue the matter single handedly. On the other hand, when Palmers’ wife tries to explain to her husband that his life is in danger and going out at night without is not safe, he brushes her off since he doesn’t understand the magnitude of the risk involved. She cries out and complains of being ignored whenever she talks about his husbands’ private life.  There is poor down to up communication in the terrorist camp, whereby all directives are given out by the rig leader and no opinion in to be table by any other member

Noise is another great destructor to communication which interferes with the message being passed by the sender to the receiver to the extent of the message not being understood. the Noise as an element of communication is characterized by use of in appropriate body language and poor gestures when passing the information. The most appropriate way of reducing noise is by use simple communication jargon and also avoiding then use of inappropriate body gestures and tonal variations. This ensures proper delivery of the message thus enabling the receiver to well understand the sender and by so doing encoding and decoding becomes easier.  In the film, the leader of the presidential campaign team is able to signal Palmer without causing any public disruption. At the CTU Nina is able to gesture Tony and Jack for a private talk without interfering with other colleagues. The environment in which the communication takes places is also very important as it may influence it either positively or negatively.

Channel of communication is the media and ways used to pass message from the sender to the receiver. Communication requires effective and efficient channels in order to achieve the contextual success when it comes to the interpretations. It is advisable to use the cost effective media in order to cut cost of communication. The privacy of the media is also of paramount importance. The speed at which the media is able to transmit the information should be acceptable. Palmer in the film is not confident in using mobile phone as a mode of communication and prefers face to face interaction when the information is confidential; on the other hand Jack uses mobile phones with ease but is not comfortable with face to face communication.


Communication being a process of passing information from one person to another is very important when it comes to analysis of films and it enables the audience to get the information in detail. It is advisable to stick to components and concepts of communication when it comes to analysis of the films as they guide the audience on what to do in order to understand the content. The concepts and components of communication prevent conflict which might arise when there is misunderstanding of the information. Effectiveness of communication is affected by noise, attitude, environmental factors and cultural aspects. Communication is of great importance in real life situation as it creates relationships, helps in giving instructions and promotion of unity in an organization and in studying interpersonal relationships whereby the changes in behavioral patterns of individuals can be analyzed by the use of ideas that balance the relationship. Interpersonal communication is always complicated because it involves variables like language, environment and destruction. This makes the communication to be complex to an extent of not even making simple requests during communication process. The film incorporates many factors that enable effective communication that ensures the theme and flow in the episode is maintained. Different character interaction brings out clear importance of good communication as well as the dangers of poor communication.





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