Texts about violence tend to take this concept for granted. This article tries to sketch a semiotic definition through a brief re-reading of some classics and of some vocabulary entries, to suggest a characterisation of violence as a semiotic device: an articulation of two different figures of aggression («laceration»/«constraint») against a conventional threshold. This hypothesis is developed in the analysis of Joseph Losey’s films, where violence appears in many forms, but never becomes (with rare exceptions) totally explicit or spectacular. The article reconsiders the analysis by Gilles Deleuze in his L’Image-Mouvement, where Losey’s violence is essentially related to the actor’s body and its power to vibrate under the influence of original «drives». But in Losey’s cinema there are also others expressions of violence, that the article tries to understand following the suggested device. It finally focuses on The Lawless, considered here as a reflection on the dynamics of violence building, through a complex play between the film’s diegetic development and the strategies to involve the viewer.
Violence, Semiotics, Enunciational theory, Figural Device, Gilles Deleuze, Louis Marin, Joseph Losey