We come across nonverbal characters in movies all the time. They're usually comical characters whom we understand without a problem, despite their lack of speech. In fact, the communication from these nonverbal characters transcends language, age, and culture. Silent movie characters have continued to win hearts across the world since the early days of cinema and it is through their facial expressions, tonal cues and body language that we can connect with them on such a deep level.
Next time you're participating in a video survey, like those created on Plotto, remember to think about your facial expressions, your body language and your tone of voice. Why not take inspiration from one of our top ten nonverbal movie characters...
1. Mr. Bean
Mr Bean's famous grunts are universally understood and his antics are globally loved. The confused expression plastered across his face is the comical base for most of his hijinks. And we gleefully watch his endeavours continually fail, while sharing in his every emotion. Mr. Bean's physical comedy is second to none and with the addition of his tuneful mumbles, audiences are connected with him every step of the way.
2. The Pixar Lamp
The power of emotional transference is undeniable when whole theatres sympathetically connect with a desk lamp and its 'baby'. The room is filled with kindhearted cooing as the two interact with no more than a few tilts and nods of their lamp shades. It's pure genius.
We all remember Pingu communicating with his family and friends with no more than the occasional honk. We all warmed to his character, through the flaps of his flippers and the slap of his feet. And of course, the occasional 'Nog Nog!'.
Brimming with human emotions, this film had the nation gripped in 2008 when the cheeky animated robot Wall-E wheeled across our screens for the first time. The well-timed mechanical noises and body language exchanged between Wall-E and his robot love interest, Eva, communicate complex emotions to us; as an audience we feel endlessly connected to these silent, animated yet affectionate machines.
5. Shaun the Sheep
Shaun the sheep was brought to our screens in 1995 as the silent accomplice of Wallis and Gromit in 'A Close Shave'. We're enamoured by the frequent raising of his eyebrows, his wide tooth-filled grin and his communicative bleats that Shaun the Sheep has continued to entertain us ever since.
6. Tom and Jerry
Tom and Jerry have been mesmerising audiences since 1940. While there is no love lost between them, their creative violence and the mayhem that follows has endeared audiences worldwide. With not a single word spoken between them, their communication is purely physical. Music plays a significant role to convey suspense, action and apprehension, but their expressive faces and bodies fill the gaps quite abundantly.
7. Scrat from Ice Age
The acorn-obsessed, melancholy squirrel who features in Ice Age delights audiences whenever he makes an appearance. Striking empathy in the hearts of viewers, this misfortunate character doesn't speak a word in any of the Ice Age films. Instead, the powerful use of facial expressions and excited squeaking transposes his frustrations effortlessly, helping us share in his hapless attempts to keep hold of his acorn.
R2D2 and his contemporary BB8 communicate quite happily through beeps, whistles and spinning body parts. While we don't know for sure what they're saying to each other, their interaction compels us to attribute human emotions to their tuneful squeaks and expressive movement.
9. Kenny from South Park
Somewhat the odd one out, Kenny does in fact speak. However, throughout most South Park episodes his voice is muffled and he's reduced to nothing but mumbles and squeaks, rendering him inaudible. There are few body language cues to be seen and almost no facial expressions, yet through tone of voice alone we can understand what he's saying. Mostly.
10. Maggie Simpson
Maggie Simpson has only managed to say a couple of words during the entire twenty-odd series of The Simpsons. Despite her silent role, she has a distinct depth of character and is the main focus of a great number of episodes. Squeaking and sucking on her dummy, she communicates her genius often. She is regularly the pillar of the family, bringing the adults into check and demonstrating that actions speak far louder than words.
That 93% of communication is nonverbal is undeniable, when the most memorable characters on the screen are often the ones who say nothing at all. So, if you want to know what your survey respondents are really saying...pay attention to their words, how they say it and facial expressions.
New market research trends, like video surveys, are tapping into the power of this communication mix. Plotto now has a range of video analysis tools to help make this easier: Keyword Analysis to help understand the words, Sentiment Analysis to understand how they say it, and Facial Emotion Analysis to pick up those nonverbal messages.
Update November 2017 - check out our latest related article on futuristic video technology and video analysis in films and tv.
We'd love to hear who you would add to the list of silent stars, why not add some more in in the comments below or send to us on Twitter @PlottoUK...
All videos thanks to YouTube