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Copy of Fight Club: Mise en Scene

A look into the different aspects of mise-en-scene that play into the experience of watching Fight Club, the film
by

Mikhail Memedovich

on 3 October 2014

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Transcript of Copy of Fight Club: Mise en Scene

Fight Club: Mise-en-Scene
Lighting
When a movie is in shadows nearly the entire time, flashes of light become very noticeable and very important
Lighting
Tyler's Costume
Narrator's Costume (After)
Narrator's Costume (Before)
Props/Decor
There are a lot of things in the narrator's "bachelor pad" that help reinforce themes of consumerism
Props/Decor

Most often props are very carefully selected before they are put into the film. They need to add something; a prop tells just as much about the story as the characters and locations do.
Lighting
Low-Key: Employs very little fill light, creates strong contrast, and often creates strong shadows that obscure parts of the principal subjects
High-Key: Fill light is raised to almost the same level as the key light; images are usually very bright and feature few shadows on the principal subjects
Source: http://classes.yale.edu/film-analysis/htmfiles/mise-en-scene.htm
Fight Club
utilizes predominantly low-key lighting
Dark themes and twisted storyline in the film are enhanced
For example: after we see Tyler fight in this scene, he stands above his opponent and a light shines behind him
This lighting expresses to the viewer how highly the narrator thinks of Tyler at this point in the film
Tyler is a god-like figure in this scene - the narrator puts him on a pedestal
Image Source: http://www.newsmosh.com/brad-pitt-has-a-shark-phobia/brad-pitt-fight-club-2/
Image Source: http://anyakordecki.com/2013/04/18/fight-club-paper-street/
The narrator's insomnia and mental illness are represented through these shadows - detachment from reality, "darkening" of outlook
Other Examples
Image Sources: http://anyakordecki.com/2013/04/18/fight-club-paper-street/
http://filmjackets.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=35&start=1170
http://www.randomrocker.co.uk/new/redditsingle.php?postid=1zuyvt&subreddit=pics
Props/Decor
For example: One of the first locations was at "Remaining Men Together"


The large size of the room shows how small/insignificant the men feel because of their loss of masculinity through their traditionally ‘feminine’ emotions, to the reality of their situation

Also notice the American flag that is in the room, referencing the idea of the “American dream” which Tyler would refer to later as being unachievable
Sources: http://1084413265.blogspot.com/2011/12/analysis-of-two-micro-elements-mise-en.html
http://sequelpusher.tumblr.com/post/48115992873/if-you-wake-up-at-a-different-time-in-a-different

Seems that he is trying to achieve perfection - his apartment has loads of furniture while his fridge remains nearly empty
This contrast is a reference to the fact he cares more about his own vanity satisfaction than his basic human instincts

Conventionally, decorating/furnishing is not considered a masculine activity yet the narrator is at one point keenly focused on it, reflecting the films theme of loss of masculinity
Costume
Costume plays a large part in the mise-en-scene - it can instantly tell us the character’s personality, social status and job
It tells us when the movie was set and what society and/or culture it will center around
Certain types of costume are identified closely with individual genres - can you think of any?
Source: http://www.slideshare.net/CharisCreber/mise-en-scene-5701882
Tyler’s costumes resemble clothes from a thrift shops instead of name brand clothes
Enforces his stance against corporations and consumerism
Shirts are not completely buttoned or tucked in
His jacket is the color of blood, which can represent all the blood spilled throughout the fights and Project Mayhem
Tyler's Costume
Image Source: rap.genius.com
Image Source: http://wall4all.me/wallpaper/796860-Pitt-Edward-Norton-Fight

Narrator's Costume (Before)
The Narrators clothes are all expensive designer clothes - CK shirts, DKNY shoes, and AX ties
His shirts are always completely buttoned and tucked in
Wardrobe is “very respectable” (as he states in the movie)
Embraces consumerism and is extremely materialistic.
Narrator's Costume (After)
After he embraces Fight Club, his wardrobe changes from designer-everything to plain clothes
Stops wearing ties, buttoning his shirt, and tucking in his shirts
By changing his costume, the viewer sees that Fight Club has set him free from being materialistic
Image Source: http://funny-pictures.picphotos.net/edward-norton-fight-club-helena-bonham-carter/cinematicwallpaper.com*wp-content*uploads*2012*09*Fight-Club-Edward-Norton.jpg/
Camera and Character Placement
Common Camera Angles
Bird's-eye View – Shot from above the subject. Usually used to make the people in the scene less significant to the viewer, or to notice/concentrate on surroundings

High Angle - Reduces the size of the subjects. To imply a subject is harmless or insignificant, but not as much as the Bird's-eye View angle

Eye-level Shot - Clearest view of an object, creates a less dramatic feel, because it tends to be the norm

Low Angle - To produce a sense of verticality. Also heightening the importance of subjects in scene. Used to give person a sense of power or respect

Oblique Angle - Camera angle is tilted laterally, causing a slanted appearance. Usually used to imply tension, transition, or an impending movement. Aka “Canted” “Dutch angles”

This scene is shot at a high angle. This decreases the attention on or the significance of the characters in this shot, and rather focuses our attention to the street sign that reads “Paper St.”
The real definition of a “Paper Street” is a road or street that appears on maps but does not exist in reality
The narrator basically created the street in his mind, and everything he saw and imagined became real to him. However, in reality the “map” which was his mental, showed that this was not reality but just his imagination - it never existed
Aside from the street name being the most important reason for this camera angle, the director also wanted to show how run-down the neighborhood really was; this resembled the way Tyler Durden was portrayed and how he carried himself

Image Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0137523/mediaindex
Interesting take on Fight Club which incorporates the "Paper Street" theme (YouTube)
An example of camera placement combined with character placement in the same scene: after the narrator and Tyler fought outside of the club, walking back to Tyler’s house

The camera placement is at a distance, shot from a lower angle to elevate the size of the main subject in this frame. Both the narrator and Tyler are in the lower right corner of the shot, which de-emphasizes the two (the narrator especially), but emphasizes what is important in this scene: the dark street and broken-down raggedy house which is taking up most of the frame

Why is this important?
Considering the fact that there are a lot of Film Noir techniques used when Tyler is present throughout the film, Fincher wants to show the viewer the “dark side” of Tyler
We are able to see the deserted street and house much more clearly in this camera angle. The street is wet and the house is old and rusty, and the grass is dead on the side of the house. You can see there’s no cars on the street, parked or driving. The world of Tyler Durden is introduced into the film as a dangerously dark, empty and cold side of the movie: the narrator's alter-ego
Camera and Character Placement
Characters placed in the top of the frame can imply power, authority or aspiration.
Characters placed in the bottom of the frame tend to suggest meanings opposite when they are placed at the top, which is subservience, vulnerability or even powerlessness.
Characters positioned in the left and right sides of the frame, imply insignificance, the areas farthest removed from the center of the screen.

Techniques of Character Placement
Source: http://www.cod.edu/people/faculty/pruter/film/dominant.htm
Image Source: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0137523/mediaindex
Source: http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-54_u-251_t-647_c-2411/camera-shots-angles-and-movement-lighting-cinematography-and-mise-en-scene/nsw/camera-shots-angles-and-movement-lighting-cinematography-and-mise-en-scene/skills-by-text-type-film/film-overview
Image Source: http://www.imdb.com/media/rm770344448/tt0137523?ref_=ttmd_md_nxt
In this fight scene, in the basement of Tyler and the narrator’s home, the character placement is very significant.

This is shot from a lower to eye level camera angle. Everyone is behind Tyler and they are looking at him and sort of admiring him.

He’s placed in the center of the shot, which gives him control and authority within this scene. The viewers eyes are on Tyler Durden and only Tyler.

This scene is shot at eye level, and was during the beginning of the narrator meeting Tyler, after they fought outside of the club they shared a drink before walking home

Although they share an equal amount of the screen, the narrator has much more control in the scene and our eyes are attracted to him
He is placed closer to the center of the frame, where Tyler is closer to the border
He is placed into the position where the light seems to shine more on him than Tyler
Image Source: http://www.imdb.com/media/rm770344448/tt0137523?ref_=ttmd_md_
How do these elements add to the viewer's experience?
Things to Consider:
Why did the film take off when the book didn't (at first)? Does it have to do with these visuals?
What other elements of film stood out in
Fight Club
?
Halle, Harris, Mikhail and Emily - ENGL 2043-01
Full transcript