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Mise en Scene

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Saved by William Palm
on September 24, 2009 at 8:40:27 pm



Directly translated from French to english mise-en-scene means "putting on stage".  It was originally used to describe theater sets but much like the actors who crossed over to film so did their vocabulary. With film making, the mise-en-scene is literally whatever you see on screen from the lighting, sets and even music, which can either be diagetic or no, adds to "the articulation of cinema space" (userpages.umbc.edu: mise-en-scene). The mise-en-scene is all in encompassing of a film. Everything from what color a wall should be to the movement and positions of the actors on the screen, a method called blocking, is dictated by the mise-en-scene. But these things all make up a mise-en-scene but what about these things make the mise-en-scene what it is?




An overriding definition for mise-en-scene does not exist. According to wikipedia's article on mise-en-scene, "[it is a] grand undefined term,' but that is not because of a lack of definitions. Rather, it's because the term has so many different meanings that there is little consensus about its definition"(Wikipedia: Mise-en-scene). The definitions of mise-en-scene vary from "Things other than dialogue to tell a story" (Youtube: 4 minute Film school), to "all elements of visual style [i.e.] both elements on the set and aspects of the camera" (Wikipedia: Mise-en-scene) to "take[ing] on mystical meanings related to the emotional tone of a film" (Wikipedia: Mise-en-scene).  The best definition that I encountered was that " Mise-en-scène can be defined as the articulation of cinematic space, and it is precisely space that [mise-en-scene] is about. The shot is about what occurs in a defined area of space, bordered by the frame of the movie screen and determined by what the camera has been made to record. That space, the mise-en-scène, can be unique, closed off by the frame, or open, providing the illusion of more space around it" (userpages.umbc.edu: mise-en-scene). This definition gives some scope as to what the mise-en-scene does for a film. It makes sense that the mise-en-scene would give a film its body in which the narrative can project the soul of the project.


Nosferatu's Mise en Scene


As we can see from this clip of Nosferatu, Muranau uses the mise-en-scene to imitate the psychological mind set of Ellen Hutter. Close ups show her terror, swiftly cutting to different scenes hightens the tension, but the lighting above all shows how Muranau uses the mise-en-scene of light and dark to add to Orlok's power and weaknesses.


Mise en Scene is made up of many different aspects of film. Each of these aspects is worth learning more about to do so look at these pages. Each of these work together to create the film. Mise en scene and editing are the two main parts of film produciton.



     Lighting has a large inpact of the "feel" of the mise en scene of a film. This is also one of the biggest aspects of film that can differenciate between amature and professional looking films. Lighting is a unquie aspect of mise en scene becasue light being present is just as powerful when it is no present. This positive and negative affect of lighting leaves a lot of creative opions to the director.


Set Design and Locations

      This aspect of mise en scene is the backround of all the other aspects involved with mise en scene. The age old debate of using locations or built sets can greatly effect the overall look of the film. 




     One could argue acting to be one of the most artistically expressive parts of film making. Either way acting is usually the most noticiable aspect of mise en scene. The art of acting has spand many many centuries but the film acting style is fairly new in comparision.





Indy"Mise-En Scene, 4 Minute School Video: IndyMogul" Youtube.com n.d. September 15, 2009.

“Mise en scene” Wikipedia.com. September 7, 2009. Web. September 14, 2009. 

Kolker, Robert. “Mise en scene from Film Form and Culture” userpage.umbc.edu. n.d. Web September 15, 2009.

Unclecharlie007. "Nosferatu-end scene" Youtube.com. n.d. September 15, 2009.  


 I think we should make a page on blocking (especially for Eisenstein), diagetic and maybe lighting.


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