Mise-en-scène(pronounced “meez-ahn-sen”) Everything that creates the visual “world” of the movie and its overall atmosphere
Some Key Film Terms • A. Mise-en-scène-what is filmed; everything in front of the cameras. • B. Cinematography--how something is filmed (photographic techniques) • C. Editing--how what is filmed is put together • D. Sound—voice, music, & sound effects; can be diegetic (part of the story) & non-diegetic (not part of the story)
Definition Mise-en Scene is what appears in the film frame.
What is a frame? • A frame defines the 3 dimensions of the image we see on screen: • Height • Width • Depth (the illusion of…)
What is Mise-en-scène? • It is a physical creation and an emotional concept • French phrase that literally means - • Staging or putting on an action or scene in theatre or cinema • In critical analysis it generally refers to the filmmaker’s control of such staging, or how a filmmaker determines what the audience sees (and hears) with in the frame of the movie image.
Elements of mise-en-scène • Design: the LOOK of the setting, props, lighting, actors, costumes, makeup, hairstyling, and décor. • Composition: the ORGANIZATION, distribution, balance of actors and objects within the frame, including kinesis (what moves within the frame). Plus: Off-screen and onscreen “space” Open-framed, closed-frame films
Elements of mise-en-scène • Setting, Décor, & Props • Performance (Actors) • Costumes, Makeup, Hairstyling • Lighting & Color • Composition within the frame, including kinesis (movement) Plus: Off-screen and onscreen “space” Open-framed, closed-frame films
What isn’t part of mise-en-scène? • Sound • Music • Narration • Editing
What are the functions of the frame and the process known as framing? • Filmmakers must decide what to include and what to exclude • What is seen/not seen (onscreen off screen space) • Control distribution, balance and spatial perspectival relations of what appears on screen • In controlling framing, filmmakers shape the from, content, and meaning of the image
So…… • Mise-en-scène results from the filmmaker’s total control of what occurs with in the frame.
Planning a shot means… • Placing people, objects and elements of décor • Determining their movements (if any) • Setting up lighting • Figuring out camera angles
So generally speaking Mise-en-scène is… • The total arrangement of settings, costumes, lighting, and acting - in other words - everything you see. • Ultimately Mise-en-scène happens because the director and his/her creative team envisioned it.
Composition and Mise-en-scène • Mise-en-scène is the product of directorial vision and planning. • Composition is the process of visualizing and putting those plans into practice.
Composition Basics • Organization • Distribution • Balance • General relationship of stationary objects and figures • As well as light, shade, line, and color with in the frame
Composition & Mise-en-scène • Cause effect relationship • Calls attention to the actual work of the director and the production team • This helps develop a movies narrative, suggests meaning • (story boards, models, sketch books)
Shaping Mise-en-scène Two aspects of composition • Framing - what we see on the screen • Kinesis - what moves on the screen
Realism • Often Evaluative Standard for Film Worlds • Notions of Realism Vary • More Useful to Evaluate Function
E.g. Edward Scissorhands (1990) • Contrast stylized and banal Mise-en-scène • Functions to suggest conflict in story of conformism and creativity
Early Cinema • 1895 Lumiere Brothers • First Commercial Films • Mise-en-scène of Real Places • Actualities
George Melies • Former Magician • Voyage to the Moon (1902) • One of the First Studios • Created/ Not Actual World
Locations vs. Sets • Two Main Traditions of Film Mise-en-scène • Pause lecture to watch a clip of these two early cinema versions of Mise-en-scène on Learning Tasks page.
1. Setting • Container, Background for Action or • Dynamic; Plays Active Role in Narrative
I. SETTING • A. Setting is where the action occurs • B. Three basic options: • 1. Soundstage- interiors & process shots • 2. Studio backlot--full size replicas (towns, streets, houses, shops, etc.)
SETTING, CON’T. • 3. Locations: • a. May be one place, but pretend to be another ("creative geography“--see editing) • b. May shoot only establishing & outside shots “on location” • c. May take whole cast & crew "on location" to shoot exteriors & interiors
SETTINGS, CON’T. • C. Function of sets: • 1. Provide information (e.g. time, place, character’s status, etc.). • 2. Create mood & guide our attention. • 3. May play a significant part in the action. • 4. Communicate themes & comment on action. • 5. Can create "special effects" (e.g. low tech solutions to avoid process shots).
When the mise-en-scène in a movie creates a feeling completely in tune with the movie’s narrative and themes, we may not consciously notice it; it simply feels natural. Rear Window (1954). Alfred Hitchcock, director.
Mise-en-scène reinforces characters and themes. Far From Heaven (2002). Todd Haynes, director.
Some movies challenge us to read their mise-en-scène. The Fallen Idol (1948). Carol Reed, director.
Prop • Abbreviation for Property • Part of the setting that plays active role in action. • May reoccur as a motif.
II. Performance (Actors) • A. Usually human actors • 1. Required to make an effective drama • 2. Create identification with audience, enhancing our suspension of disbelief • 3. Bad acting (or outdated acting) prevents this identification.
PERFORMANCE, CON’T. B. Various acting styles: • 1. Natural vs. Stylized (realistic vs. "playing a role") • a. Natural actors re-create recognizable or plausible human behavior for the camera • b. Stylized or non-natural actors seem excessive, exaggerated, even overacted, may employ strange costuming, etc. • 1) May distance audiences from characters (e.g. Johnny Depp in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory) • 2) Often found in horror, fantasy, & action films • 2. Improvisational acting—extemporaneous acting
A non-naturalistic performance by Johnny Depp. Edward Scissorhands (1990). Tim Burton, director.
Robert DeNiro and director Martin Scorsese improvised the lines in this scene from Taxi Driver. Taxi Driver (1976)
PERFORMANCE, CON’T. • 3. Method acting (immersing oneself in the role); chameleon actors--different in every role • e.g. Robert DeNiro, Cate Blanchett • 4. Personality actors or actors who take their personae from role to role • e.g. John Wayne, Adam Sandler) • 3. Technical acting (using body movements & technique to evoke a role) • 4. Type casting vs. casting against type • Some actors deliberately play against our expectations of their personae (e.g. Jim Carrey)
Cate Blanchett’s complete transformation as Bob Dylan in I’m Not There (2007) - Todd Haynes, director.
We respond to a single character’s expressions as they are shaped by drama and camera. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928). Carl Theodor Dreyer, director.
Sometimes film directors expect that the audience will make connections between films spanning decades. Anna Karina in My Life to Live (1962). Jean-Luc Godard, director. In this scene she is at the movies, watching….Joan of Arc…
PERFORMANCE, CON’T. • 5. Nonprofessional actors, cast to bring realism to a part • e.g. the ordinary people in Winter’s Bone • C. Performance categories: • 1. Stars • 2. Character actors & roles • 3. Major & minor roles • 4. Bit players and extras • 5. Stand-ins & stuntpersons • 4. Cameos (rarely credited, often famous people)
PERFORMANCE, CON’T. • 5. Styles change over time • a. earlier films may seem overacted to modern audiences • b. Silent films adopted the acting style favored in the 19th-century theater • c. Exaggerated facial expressions, strained gestures,bombastic mouthing of words • d. The 1950s featured emotional method acting, such as James Dean
PERFORMANCE, CON’T. • d. Performance challenges: • 1. Importance of casting & problem of miscasting • 2. Challenge of shooting out of sequence (movies usually shot out of narrative order, for convenience or cost) • e. Film techniques can alter or "create" a performance--skillful photography & editing can mask a poor performance.
III. COSTUMING & MAKEUP • A. Can enhance setting; must be appropriate for the time, place, etc. • B. Can be realistic vs. stylized (more in fantasy) • C. Can serve iconographic or symbolic functions (i.e. white hat/dark hat dichotomy for hero/villain)
Costumes and Makeup • Like Setting, Function in Story • Realistic, Unobtrusive or Stylized • Allusion in Breathless
Naturalist Makeup • DeNiro’s Nose, Eyes in Raging Bull (1980) • Function unobtrusively to create resemblance to real person and support performance.
Nicholson in Batman (1989) • Highly Stylized, Exaggerated Costume/Makeup • Characterize Joker as theatrical, aberrant.
The Leopard (1963) - Luchino Visconti, director. A film whose mise-en-scène (esp. set design & costuming) perfectly complements its narrative and themes.
IV. Lighting • Allows us to see action • Directs our attention • Impacts how characters appear
Light Quality • Intensity • Soft: diffused, less contrast • Hard: defined, sharp contrast • Redford in The Natural (1984)
Three Point Lighting • Key: Main Source • Fill: Eliminates Shadow • Back: Rim of Light =Depth
Three Point Lighting (continued) • For Each Major Character • Time Consuming, Expensive • Creates Clear Compositions