Edited by Melinda Mendoza

Abstract Edit

Gail Lathrop and David O. Sutton create a explanatory article about the elements of Mise-en-Scene, a term commonly used in regards to the affordances of film. As stated in the article, this French term, which essentially means "place on stage", refers to "all the visual elements of a theatrical production within the space provided by the stage itself". Lathrop and Sutton give a deeper explanation to the term and all the elements that form altogether to create a piece of art in the film aspect. Elements including setting, costume, figure behavior, lighting and framing all play a major role in the final production of a film. Lathrop and Sutton give an in depth summary of each element and their role in the final production as well as examples of each element. The term mise en scene, is essentially all these elements combined to overall affect the production of the film.

Key Concepts Edit

Within the article, Lathrop and Sutton explain the deeper meaning behind each element of mise en scene and the importance of them. As each element is important to the overall production of the film, the two authors break down each element separately as well as explain them combined.

Setting is one of the most prevalent aspects of film in the visual sense. This element allows viewers to get a better sense of the location of the film. This, in turn, helps control the ambience of the film. The setting of the film adds the overall meaning to film's narrative and allows for creativity. According to Lathrop and Sutton, "the selecting, constructing, and arranging elements of setting all give the director powerful control over his art".

Costume is another important visual element in film. Costume enables viewers to make specific insights about the characters and can imply certain physical and psychological information about the characters. Costume can vary from the literal sense of clothing, to props used and handled by the characters. Dracula's cape, for example, suggests that there is a hidden evil in the character and leads an audience to believe that the character is villainous.

Figure Behavior helps the audience believe that the actors on stage are the characters in reality. Figure expression and movement helps develop the theme and message of the film or plot. Figure expression refers to the facial expressions and posture done by the actor. Figure movement essentially means all other actions or gestures the actor performs throughout the film. These behaviors are directed by the producer to overall complement the film's message in an appropriate manner.

Lighting allows the audience to view the action of the film as well as all other aspects. Lighting can allow for a specific interpretation of the scene depending on the brightness or lack there of, of the scene. The lighting of a shot can enable the characters to be perceived as whatever the director feels. For example, if a scene were to show two characters, one good and one bad, the lighting can help an audience understand the relationship between the two by using specific lighting. Dark, crisp lighting can generally imply that the character is evil, where as a soft lighting allows for the interpretation that the character is good.

The framing element of mise en scene generally means the angle, or relationship between the camera and subject, of which the scene is shot. For example, framing can allow for many different interpretations of the shot. The angle at which the film is shot can imply that the character is tough by angling the camera upward towards the character. Like wise, by angling the camera down upon a character, it can imply that he or she is weak and small.

Examples Edit

In the movie, "Batman Begins", we see many different elements of mise en scene coming together to create the final product of the film. In this scene, the setting is located in a dark place with construction around it. This enables an audience to understand that it is not safe and that there will be violence. Batman's all black clothing implies that he has a dark and mysterious personality. The lighting continues the ambience of mystery and violence as uses dark and crisp tones. The angle of the camera relative to the character is upward making Batman look bigger and stronger than he would appear if the camera was angled downward. Each element of mise en scene combined allows an audience to get the full affect of the film and allows viewers to interpret whatever the director wants.

In the movie, "Paranormal Activity", an audience is lead to make many different interpretations because of the specific mise en scene done by the director. In this specific scene, the lighting used is extremely dark and heavy as the portrayal of violence and suspense is implied. The director also used the "tilt angle" of the camera to imply that the character is "not right". The darkness of the character's clothing, the lighting and the camera angle all help imply the horror and darkness of this paranormal film. The director used these specific elements to best portray the characters and to help the audience interpret the film the way he/she wanted.

Critical Conversation Edit

This article has been cited 16 times according to Google Scholar. The article has been used to help define the term mise en scene and all the elements used for a final film production. Many scholars have used this source in order to argue what each element implies and the different approaches that can be taken to best portray a certain ambience or feel of a certain scene. Framing is one of the most argued elements, as many scholars have felt that certain angles affect a viewers interpretation more than others.

Key Words Edit

  • Mise en Scene
  • Film
  • Setting
  • Costume
  • Lighting
  • Framing

Citations Edit

Lathrop, G., & Sutton, D. (n.d.). Elements of Mise-en-Scene. Retrieved May 12, 2015, from en scene.pdf  

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