September 04, 2008

Mise en scene

Mise en scene


This term originally came from theatre and meant staging. Its literal translation from the French means ‘having been put into the scene'. The term crossed over into cinema from theatre relating to the production practices involved in the framing of shots. This covers:

  • The location
  • The sets
  • The props
  • Costumes
  • Lighting
  • Movement within the frame
  • Sound.

These are is the expressive tools available to a film or TV programme maker.This means that analysis of mise en scene can be a way of identifying a particular filmmaker. As a range of expressive tools mise en scene is essential to the construction of a preferred reading / meaning of a media text and it is intimately bound up with the concept of representation in media.

The theory of mise en scene was developed by those interested in how the director and sometimes the team could participate in the construction of meaning. (See Auteur). Mise en scene is a term employed in theatre to designate the contents of the stage and their arrangement. In cinema however the reference is rather to the film frame, including the arrangement of the profilmic event, of everything that is , which is in front of the camera – settings, costumes and props. Mise en scene also refers more broadly to what the spectator actually sees on the screen – the composition of the image and the nature of the movement within the frame. As an element of mise en scene, composition of the cinematic image , for example, may produce narrative meanings relating to the spatial location of the story …..In any one film, mise en scene will work in conjunction with other codes to produce narrative meanings. ( Kuhn Annette, 1982 :37 ) See also props, setting, costume, performance, deep focus.

Webliography

For a more in depth article see: Does style determine meaning ? The scope and importance of Mise en scene criticism

British Film Institute Resources


Further Reading

An excellent short book on mise en scene by John Gibbs is available from Wallflower Press in the Short cuts series.

Google search of Gibbs


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