Mise en scene

This is a post to support the work we did in class today on the film’s mise en scene. Mise en scène refers to how space is used in individual shots to create dramatic or emotional effect, or symbolic meanings throughout a film.

Mise en scène was originally a French theatre term meaning “placing on a stage”. In films, it refers to how objects, characters and materials are placed inside the lm frame. What we’re talking about, in other words, is the choreography or design of visual elements in individual shots, including people, objects and their location. Some lmmakers very intricately choreograph the actors’ and camera’s movements so that within a single shot, as the camera moves, the framing and angles change, the actors move in and out of frame in a duet, and the lm itself does not cut or stop.

In creating symbolic meaning, lighting, the set, props and visual patterns are all components of mise en scène. In the Coen Brothers’ Fargo (1996), for example, as the lm progresses, the character of Jerry is increasingly shot so that he appears to be enclosed behind vertical lines and shadows that can be interpreted as prison bars representing his impending fate.

An emphasis on mise en scène to create meaning (or even to keep meaning ambiguous), is often contrasted with an editing technique called montage. Rather than relying on the composition within the shot, montage relies more on how different shots are put together to create meaning.

The director is ultimately the one who decides on the design of the mise en scène but he or she depends on the cinematographer, the costume designer, the set designer, and the art director for assistance in creating the “look” of the lm.

Notes from Inpoint.

Further information can be found here and here and definitely here.


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