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James Bogdanski

on 23 September 2016

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Transcript of Mise-en-scene

French for "putting into the scene".
Mise en scene
Everything's connected
The use of dual imagery and double meaning; or, parallelism through visual motif.
In The Shining, Kubrick has Wendy appear from off-screen. She hovers over the typewriter, gazing upon it with apprehension and fear. Paired with the fiery-tinged railing above her, she appears caught in a maw -- one formed by the upper jaw of the hotel and the lower jaw of Jack's madness.
"The movement of the film from shot to shot, the relation of one shot to all the other shots already taken or not, which will make up the finished film, cutting, montage, all this is mise-en-scene. And still more. For mise-en-scene is not all these things considered as separate and detachable items: it is also what fuses all these into one organic unity, and consequently more, much more, than the sum of its parts. The tone and atmosphere of the film, visual metaphor, the establishment of relationships between characters, the relation of all parts to the whole: all this is mise-en-scene."
- Robin Wood, film critic
Lawrence plays dress-up
The bloody consequences of "riding the whirlwind"
Lawrence becomes the sun-god.
Mise en scene is all about directing our gaze
Mise en scene + Cinematography = the visual design of a film
Hitchcock allows red and green to intermingle throughout Vertigo.
The green of Madeleine's dress captures a bewitching mood and tone that Scottie (Jimmy Stewart) clings to even after her apparent death, at which point green begins to signify a smothering ghostly absence.
"No Prisoners"
This close-up of first blood drawn during a massacre on a Turkish convoy (one that Lawrence allows) recalls the red victory garlands that Sherif Ali had tossed at his feet after the successful raid on Aqaba.
Three-Point Lighting
We can divide mise en scene into
6 helpful aspects:
1. Set Design (décor) / Setting (location)
2. Lighting
3. Color
4. Costume/Hair/Makeup
5. Blocking/staging
6. Composition
Set Design
In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the futuristic furniture and reduced color scheme stress the sterility and impersonality of the space station environment.
Courtesy: Yale University "Film Analysis" 2002
Hitchcock literalizes the title of his film "Vertigo" in the spiral that links the three female personas of actress Kim Novak (Carlotta/Madeleine/Judy).
High-key Lighting
Low-Key Lighting
What draws our attention most on screen?
1. Movement

American Beauty (1999)
Lighting Design
3. Size

4. Color
Aspect Ratio
Illusion of Depth / Planes of Action
(dir. Nicolas Refn, 2011)
Mise-en-scene: The Key Terms
movement, lighting, size, color

Attached shadows

Cast shadows

Lighting Quality
Hard vs Soft

Shallow space vs Deep space
Types of Lighting
3-point lighting, Frontal lighting, side-lighting, backlighting, underlighting, top lighting

Light Source
natural, artificial, realistic, consistent

Light Design
High-key, Low-key

Screen Space
Overlap, aerial perspective, size diminution
: Where is our eye attracted first? Why?

Lighting Key
: High key? Low key? High contrast?

Shot and Camera Proxemics
: How far away is the camera from the action?

: Are we looking up or down on the subject?

Color values
: What is the dominant color? Contrasting colors? Color symbolism?

Subsidiary contrasts
: What are the main eye-stops after taking in the dominant?

Density of Image
: How much visual info is packed into the image?

: How is the two dimensional space segmented and organized? Underlying design?

: Open or closed? Does the image suggest a window that arbitrarily isolates a fragment of the scene? Or a proscenium arch, in the visual elements are carefully arranged and held in balance?
Mise-en-Scene Film Analysis questions
The natural setting in Star Wars (Lucas, 1977) is used to create negative space around the solitary character of Luke.
Rule of Thirds
theory that the human eye naturally gravitates to intersection points that occur when an image is split into thirds.
2. Lighting
= unity of the visual elements within a shot
mise en abyme
this occurs within a text when there is a replication of images or concepts referring to the textual whole.
think 'Chinese boxes' or 'Russian nesting dolls'

The "Cloud Gate" structure, Millennium Park
Moulin Rouge's
the outer shell being the full-size real thing, those within a constant referral to the original

Common examples:
the film-within-a-film
internal mirroring
Citizen Kane
(dir. Orson Welles, 1941)
Narrative Space
historical location
: a recognized marker of a historical setting can carry meanings and connotations important to the narrative.
psychological location
: an important correlation between a character's state of mind and the physical place he or she inhabits in a story.
ideological location
: a space or place inscribed with distinctive social values or ideologies in a narrative.
symbolic space
space transformed through spiritual or other abstract means related to the narrative.
(dir. Alfonso Cuaron, 2012)
Citizen Kane
(dir. Orson Welles, 1941)
Historical Origins
mise-en-scène is formed by all the elements that appear “within the shot itself, as opposed to the effects created by cutting," David A. Cook
A History of Narrative Film
The concept is inherited or imitated from both painting and theater
the Frame
The opera
Don Carlos
play (stage designer Katrin Brack)
Full transcript