While the oft-quoted statistic that non-verbal communication makes up 93% of a message is based on a misinterpretation of research conducted by Albert Mehrabian and colleagues in the '60s, we can all still agree that it's a vital element of any face to face communication.
At Plotto we know only too well how important facial expressions and body language can be in the understanding of a message. That's why our video survey technology takes these cues into account, analysing them to give a fuller picture of the intended meaning of a respondent's words than text-based surveys are able to.
The importance of non-verbal communication also explains why the physical element of performance is such a vital part of a film actor's repertoire, and there are numerous moments in movies where this skill comes to the fore to create atmosphere or give the audience access to information that is sometimes even hidden from the other characters in the film.
As an update on our previous post Top 10 non-verbal movie characters, here we pay tribute to some masters of this art, highlighting five occasions where non-verbal cues told us so much more than we could ever have got from dialogue alone.
In his role as Mr Bean, Rowan Atkinson has been making audiences laugh for almost 30 years with his comical facial expressions and clumsy antics. Although Mr Bean started life as a sitcom, we've also seen the character turn social awkwardness into an art form in three movies and an animated series, not to mention that unforgettable appearance at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. This clip from the film Bean, in which the main character tries to cover up yet another blunder, demonstrates Atkinson's skill nicely, although to be fair we could just as easily have taken a clip from any part of it:
American Psycho (2000)
In an iconic scene from an iconic movie, main character Patrick Bateman – played brilliantly by then emerging talent Christian Bale – watches as his colleagues take turns to show off their business cards, revealing them to be better than his own. Having started proceedings himself by proudly flashing his card, Bateman is barely able to conceal his rage as he realises what is going on. Somehow the other men in the room seem oblivious to the emotions that are written so blatantly all over his face, but the audience is left under no illusion as to how he feels:
Modern Times (1936)
In the days of silent movies, non-verbal expression was the only tool actors had for communicating with their audiences, and the legendary Charlie Chaplin was nothing short of masterful in this regard. In this scene from Modern Times, often regarded as one of Chaplin's finest achievements, hilarity ensues after his character Little Tramp accidentally ingests a large amount of cocaine:
Not a word is spoken in the elevator scene from Drive, yet thanks to some excellent acting from Ryan Gosling and his co-star Carey Mulligan, the audience is left in no doubt as to what is going on and how the characters are feeling. From the subtle glances exchanged between Gosling's character 'Driver' and the hitman, to the deft sweep of the arm as Gosling shunts Mulligan's Irene aside and plants a decoy kiss on her lips to keep her safe from the coming carnage, and the look of startled horror on her face as he follows this up by stomping repeatedly on the hitman's face, this scene is a stunning, albeit grizzly, piece of movie magic:
The Graduate (1967)
In the final scene of this classic movie, Benjamin Braddock and newly-wed Elaine Robinson, played by Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross, flee Elaine's wedding for a life together. As they flag down and board a bus, watched incredulously by their bemused fellow passengers, their mood is jubilant – but doubt starts to creep over the young couple's faces as the risk they are taking starts to sink in: