Anna Bocci

Panel 5E: Cinematic Transcodifications/3
Session 5 – July 3, 11:00 – 13:00

Intermedial References to Classical Art in Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name

My proposal aims at exploring a case study of intermediality as a “communicative-semiotic concept” among the subcategory of intermedial references, following Irina Rajewsky’s categorization model (2005). In particular, I will reflect on the process through which movies may use intermedial references to produce their own meaning; I will then analyse how they may thematise the references themselves, thus possibly introducing metareflections on their own intermediality. My focus will be on a popular movie that, as I will argue, employs several references towards classical art, for aesthetic and possibly semiotic purposes that are interesting in their own right: Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name.

Among its intertextual and intermedial quotes, references to classical visual arts emerge from the very opening, which frames details of classical sculptures printed on analog film. Both single works of art and recurring thematic and iconic elements, as well as the whole media system of visual arts, are thus referenced.

The point of interest of my analysis is twofold. First, it allows to reflect on what such references add to the movie’s signification, as they bring forth classical constructions of key themes such as beauty and, consequently, desire and love, which may or may not be re-semantised in the film’s context. Secondly, it aims at exploring the movie’s metareflections on its own use of references. In the opening scene, Guadagnino’s work ostentatiously inscribes itself in a transmedial (Rajewsky 2018) chain of themes and imagery that extends diachronically throughout Western culture; this operation may also entail a reflection on the different modalities through which traditional visual arts and a complex multimedia product such as a movie can convey narratives and ideals about the same themes, across time.


I am a master’s student in Euro-American Literature and Philology at the University of Pisa. I took part in the CIRQUE Inter-University Center for Queer Research 2019 conference with a contribution on Henry James.