Mise-en-scene: Film and Elements

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(pronounced `Meez-ahn-sen') Mise-en-scene is a concept that was transposed from the theatre, where it meant that the director took into account everything that appeared on the stage; he took into account the effect of everything that appeared in the 'frame' of onstage space. These elements had to further the purpose and function of the play. So too in film. Generally there is nothing in a film frame that is not meant to be there, that is not planned. So elements of the frame have a purpose in the act of constructing the meanings in a film. Mise-en-scene is a huge topic, and this module will not cover it all. I will especially not go into lighting in great detail. Nevertheless, it is important and you should examine Bordwell and Thompson's section on lighting, as well as everything else of course (152-157).

Mise-en-scene are those elements that appear in the film frame as decided by the director. The term is theatrical and includes those elements associated with theatre: lighting, setting, costume, behaviour of actors. Mise-en-scene includes everything we see and the construction of that. In Birth of a Nation we saw scenes of battle that were constructed that mobilised feelings of loss-the tragedy of war as Griffiths called it. In Destination Moon a certain set of threads in the web of meanings is enlivened by scenes of a factory building `airliners'.

Mise-en-scene is a strategy the filmmaker uses to create a world, a world of both space, time and narrative.

Melies was perhaps the first exponent of control over mise-en-scene. He controlled, and constructed, every element that was to appear in the frame.

SIX ELEMENTS OF MISE-EN-SCENEThe six elements that combine to construct mise-en-scene are these: Setting
Costume and make-up
Actor's expression and movement
Screen space
Setting In theatre, the character is all important. Rarely is the stage empty of characters. In film there...
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