In the era of globalization, the better future development of city requires the construction of an international and promising city image for its promotion. English captions as an indispensable part of city promotional film, is crucial in the city image construction. Based on Halliday’s transitive system theory, this paper adopted qualitative and quantitative methods to interpret the ideational functions of captions in the latest English-version city promotional films of Xi’an in terms of clauses. ELAN 6.0 was utilized as the research tool. The study found that material process accounted for the highest proportion (62.77%) in English captions of the city promotional film of Xi’an, which was conducive to the promotion of nature and culture— the key element of Xi’an’s city image. The frequent use of material processes contributed to create a more vivid and resonant city image. The research also showed that the emphasis on the publicity of the existing advantages and the description of the future development needs were beneficial to the effective construction of city image. Besides, different constituent element required different choice of transitivity process to maximize its effect for a better city image construction. This study aimed to summarize the successful experience of city promotional films and offer reference to the production of city promotional films in the future.
Keywords: Transitivity analysis, City image construction, City promotional film, Xi’an