BONDING THROUGH EXILE:
An Analysis of Mise-en-Scène in Let the Right One In
The theme of loneliness and isolation has been predominant in cinema since its inception, but Tomas Alfredson explores the idea in a unique way in his 2008 Swedish romantic horror film, Let the Right One In. Set in the snowy winter of Stockholm, the film depicts the similarly cold and depressing life of Oskar, a young target of bullying. This frozen, barren setting contributes to the complete isolation that the viewer feels with the characters. Through strategic shot composition and specific color and mood choices, Alfredson shows how both Oskar and Eli are cut off from the world in different ways, and then how their common bloodlust brings them together.
A particular scene that stands out near the beginning of the film consists of Oskar meeting Eli for the first time on a small playground outside his apartment complex. Oskar stabs a tree with his pocket knife, hurling insults he’s heard from his bullies when Eli curiously asks what he’s doing. The camera then pans to show Eli standing atop a “playground” - which in this case is a network of metal poles in the shape of cubes. The way Eli is standing atop of the playground provides a surreal image of biblical proportions. It is almost as if she was an angel that flew down to Oskar to give him a message. In a way, she does act as a biblical angel would. She notices Oskar has a lust for revenge on his bullies, and she helps him to face his problem. Eli teaches Oskar to cope with his bloodlust, just as she has. The scene also provides a literal image of how the two are cut off from society. Eli stands atop a playground as if she’s observing humanity, while Oskar stands in the middle of a barren white landscape, alone. Throughout the film, the two children use this playground to meet up and talk, progressively becoming more comfortable with each other as they start to meet more frequently. Every shot with the...
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