Mise En Scene

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An analysis on how Mise-en-scene and sound create meaning and generate response in the film Marnie, by Alfred Hitchcock. The scene is of Mark trying to rekindle Marnie’s memories from the night of her mother’s ‘accident’: Marnie, having seeing Mark trying to hold back her mother’s punches, begins to remember parts from that night. The first shot, of Marnie, her mother and Mark, uses Mise-en-scene to show the higher achy within the three characters. Whereas towards the beginning Hitchcock had always had Marnie positioned higher than other characters to show her importance and power, he now has her positioned lower than the other two characters; she is constantly being looked down on by both Mark and her mother. It introduces the aspect of her being childlike because she is now having to look up to other people and being talked down to rather than on an equal level. This idea is reinforced when she begins speaking as though she were back to the time of the ‘accident’ – her words are spoken erratic and panicked. Another example Hitchcock shows to imply the idea of Marnie being childlike is that all of the movements and gestures that are directed towards Marnie, are those that would be expected to occur between a parent and child. Although the speech within the first shot is Diegetic Sound; there are two sub-types within the shot. All speech up until when Marnie speaks to tell Mark to let her mother go is simple diegetic sound. However when Marnie begins speaking the sound briefly becomes both simple diegetic; as she is speaking in the present to both Mark and her mother, and displaced diegetic sound; as she is saying these words also from her past. As the scene moves forward slightly external non diegetic sound is introduced with the diegetic sound. The background music is the same sound sequence repeated multiple times, but increasing the volume as it is repeated. This background music creates a tense atmosphere as they are waiting to see whether or not Marnie will remember. The tense atmosphere is reinforced with having the simple diegetic sound of the rain going on outside of the house. Hitchcock has Marnie’s costume as expensive clothing that would communicate to the audience that the person wearing them is rich and powerful. However he contrasts this by her appearance in the clothes and the makeup that she is wearing; Marnie’s appearance appears to be dishevelled, hair all over the place and untidy unlike earlier in the film where it was tied back without a hair out of place. The use of use blocking that Hitchcock uses in this shot to show the identification of Marnie as detached from the other characters. She is always, in this scene, further away from others to create difference and the show that Mark and her mother cant break into her world of thought. The external diegetic sound used whilst she is trying to remember her also creates the feeling that she is lost; going in repetitive circles trying to build to the point where she can remember her childhood memory. Hitchcock has the character Mark wear a large amount of white clothing in this scene, the white clothing is also apparent in the flashback in the next shot. The white clothing was used as a way to break in to Marnie’s memories so that she could begin to remember; it brought her back to that night by portraying Mark as the man in her flash back. The simple diegetic sound of Mark knocking on the wall also succeeds in portraying Mark as the ‘man in the white suit’.

During the flashback, there is very little colour apparent in the shot; the only colour shown that isn’t dark browns or greys, is the colour of each of the three characters present in the flashback. This symbolises the significance of them in the flashback; the place in which they are in is not the main focus, Hitchcock has chosen the costumes so that the stand out from the surrounding that they are in. This allows the audience to interpret that this flashback is purposely to show the incident...
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