Mise-en-scene is a French phrase that is used to describe what is on screen during a performance. In today’s industry it is also used in film and TV as it gives the production team an idea of what can be decoded by the audience and how it can help tell a story. Mise-en-scene has a big connection to semiology as they both analyse what is happening in a shot and how it is being displayed. There are many different aspects of a shot that are decoded by the audience which is why it is crucial to have a very complex and thought out story for how a shot is seen. This will make the audience want to carry on watching which is crucial in film and particularly TV.
Mise-en-scene is essential in film and TV. This is because it allows the audience to study what is on screen, looking for clues as to how the story might progress and how the characters involved develop their personalities. Having more complex shots can be a great way to keep an audience engaged as there is more information to take in and analyse. This is also effective when a story is simple as it will distract anyone from realising what is and isn’t happening.
What does Mise-en-scene include?
Mise-en-scene accounts for everything that can be seen on screen during a film or TV show. This includes things such as props, locations, sound, clothing, actors, lighting and editing. All of these have huge factors as to how a scene is portrayed and how well an audience will like what is happening.
Props are used to assist the story and make it seem more realistic/believable. They can also be used to help the director develop a character and a scene to give more information to the audience. Anything such as an accessory or a piece of furniture can be used as a prop which means there is a wide variety of things that can be used. Guns, cars and money are particularly powerful as they can tall the audience a lot of information about a character and their background.
The location is another great way to show an audience where the story is taking place and who is involved. It can also help develop the characters as the location will show parts of their persona. For example if a character had a nice, spacious mansion, the audience would be able to pick out that the character is financially comfortable and is not limited for money. However if the character had a small flat, being shared by a complete stranger, that would show that money is a problem. Anything from where the location is, to how it looks can give the audience enough information to figure out what is going on in the story and what kind of people might be involved.
Sound has a huge part in how an audience watches a film or TV show. It is often used to emphasise an emotion and can be implemented in many different ways. Music is one of the easiest ways to convey an emotion and is used in all aspects of media, not just film and TV. Both digetic (music that is in the background), and non digetic music is used to create an effect to help the story flow and have more meaning. As well as music, the use of foley and speech can also help the viewers decode a scene better.
A good use of actors is crucial for creating a good story and mise – en – scene. Actors are a significant part of the plot, therefore it is important that they are directed and told exactly what is needed. Things like the body language and facial expression should be perfect as the audience will struggle to follow the story if it is not up to standard. Also clothing is another important factor as it will help the audience understand who the character is and how they influence the plot. Having a character with high end fashion will tell the audience a lot more about their characteristics and persona than what it would if the director or production team hadn’t thought about what that particular character would where.
Editing is another powerful technique that can easily change the audiences perspective on a character. For example, if a character is not given much screen time it can be difficult to know the character well, therefore isn’t liked as much as those who are regularly on screen. This is one of the reasons why villains or enemies are often given little screen time as the director does not want the audience to perceive the enemies as ‘good’ people.
Mise – En – Scene Example Analysis
(Ending Scene, 2015)
The first chase scene in Mad Max: Fury Road is very powerful and is filled with information. Throughout the entirety of the scene, there is something that the audience can look at and decode to contribute to what they think is going to happen in the story. With the introduction of the rock music, the audience is perfectly engaged and is made to expect something to happen. Also the transition of the digetic to non digetic music allows the sound team to fade in and out the music during the scene as it has given the audience a reason as to why it had disappeared. During the scene there is a noticeable amount of quick cuts between shots. Similar to the music this has been done to purposely get the viewers engaged and ready for the action that is happening.
Having a big part of mise – en – scene, the actors and location show a big part of the story and how it is being portrayed to the audience. There are several establishments during the scene, clearly showing the desert that is being used as the location. In most shots only the sand on the ground and sky (other than the props and actors) can be seen, implying that the story is set in a wasteland, not habitable by humans. This gives an extra intensity to the scene as there is a fear that anyone who gets left behind will evidently die. The actors are also very well thought out. Chasing the main, stolen vehicle is the enemy group. Covered in white and black paint and very little clothing it is clear that the chasing cavalry are not normal and do not know a normal life. All of these little details can give big clues as to how the story is going to progress.
(zahid shaikh, 2012)
In The Dark Knight Rises, the opening scene the cuts between each shot is much less frequent. This could be because the director wanted the scene to be more suspenseful and for the audience to concentrate on the reveal of one of the main villains, the Bane. Until half way through the scene, there is very little music which is another reason to suggest that the Director wanted to put an emphasis on the Bane and his place within the story.
Another one of the Directors intentions was clearly to set a suspenseful atmosphere for the rest of the film. As the scene finishes, there is a shot showing the Bane and another man holding on to one another as well as a rope connected to a plane. This clearly shows their escape and gives a sense of uncertainty as to who will find the Bane and what he will do during the story.
Mise – en – scene has a big role in the film and TV production process and is one of the biggest factors as to how an audience stays engaged. This means it is important to think about it whilst recording something as the audience relies on extra information to predict or to figure out what is going to happen during the story. Not only does it keep the audience engaged, but it can also be used to keep the viewers loyal if used effectively which can guarantee success for future productions which is a quality that is looked high upon by the people who are funding what is being made.
Ending Scene (2015) Mad Max Fury road First Chase Scene. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRBu-FxD5W0 (Accessed: 8 October 2016).
zahid shaikh (2012) The dark knight rises Prologue – plane heist escape scene IMAX edition 1080p. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNUSDu-Tehg&feature=youtu.be (Accessed: 8 October 2016).
College Film And Media Studies (2010) MISE-EN-SCENE. Available at: https://collegefilmandmediastudies.com/mise-en-scene-2/ (Accessed: 8 October 2016).