Mise En Scene Analysis

2384 words - 10 pages

Mise en scene is a French theatrical term meaning “placing on stage,” or more accurately, the arrangement of all visual elements of a theatrical production within a given playing area or stage. The exact area of a playing area or stage is contained by the proscenium arch, which encloses the stage in a picture frame of sorts. However, the acting area is more ambiguous and acts with more fluidity by reaching out into the auditorium and audience. Whatever the margins of the stage may be, mise en scene is a three dimensional continuation of the space an audience occupies consisting of depth, width, and height. No matter how hard one tries to create a separate dimension from the audience, it is in vain as the audience always relates itself to the staging area. Mise en scene in movies is slightly more complicated than that of an actual theater, as it is a compilation of the visual principles of live theater in the form of a painting, hence the term “motion picture.” A filmmaker arranges objects and people within a given three-dimensional area as a stage director would. However, once it is photographed, the three-dimensional planes arranged by the director are flattened to a two-dimensional image of the real thing. This eliminates the third dimension from the film while it is still occupied by the audience, giving a movie the semblance of an audience in an art gallery. This being so, mis en scene in movies is therefore analogous to the art of painting in that an image of formal patterns and shapes is presented on a flat surface and is enclosed within a frame with the addition of that image having the ability to move freely within its confines. A thorough mise en scene evaluation can be an analysis of the way things are place on stage in a scene, or at its most primal level, an analysis of a single cell within a scene. This may seem like a slightly daunting task as there are many elements within a single shot and even more so in an entire scene. However, in the book “Understanding Movies: By Louis Giannetti,” Giannetti has laid out fifteen elements that make up the mise en scene in a film. Knowing these fifteen elements will allow you to clearly understand the exact mise en scene of a shot that was intended by the director and/or cinematographer and will allow you to get a better feel for the mood of each scene.
Being able to evaluate the mise en scen in a film can aid the audience in uncovering any symbolic undertones that the director has purposefully placed within the film that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. The first key element in evaluating mise en scene is determining the dominant or the part of the screen that your eye is first attracted to and why. Second you must determine the lighting key, which includes whether or not it is shot in a high key, low key, high contrast, or a combination of each one. The next element you must identify is the type of shot that is being used as well as the camera proxemics or how far from or close to the...

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