“Mise-en-scene is a powerful method aimed at communicating of information ideas and feelings of a film.” Discuss this statement using three films selected from different genres as examples.
Mise-en-scène is a French term and originates in the theater. It means, literally, "put in things together in the scene." For film, it has a broader meaning, and refers to almost everything that goes into the composition of the shot, including the composition itself: framing, movement of the camera and characters, lighting, set design and general visual environment, acting and performances, costumes, make up and even sound as it helps elaborate the composition. In brief mise-en- scene is the visual content of the film. And furthermore mise-en- scene can be different according to the film genre. It is because according to different genres the visual content of a film should be changed. If we take three films which belongs to totally different genres such as Provoked by Jag Mundhra, Troy by Wolfgang Petersen and Shrek 2 by Andrew Adamson ,Kelly Asbury and
Conrad Vernon. We can see a clear difference of use of mise-en-scene of these films. And also these directors try to communicate with the audience by giving different information, ideas and feelings.
If we take the film Provoked which was directed by Jag Mundhra, produced by Sunanda Murali Manohar and staring Aishwarya Rai, Gurpreet Dhami, Nandita Das, and this film is based on a traumatic story and it goes under the genre of drama. The story is based on Kiranjit Ahluwalia’s autobiography; Circle of Light, so Provoked is a true story of both Kiranjit’s legal struggle and her personal struggle who humiliated by her husband’s abuse and afraid for her life and the lives of her children, Kiranjit finally finds freedom behind bars. And she finds strength through her new friends—her fellow inmates. With the help of her cellmate, Ronnie (Miranda Richardson), and a non-profit organization that aids battered women, Kiranjit begins to fight for a ground-breaking appeal.
The story of the film builds around the Kiranjit’s character. She was a battered Punjabi homemaker and mother of two, living in Southall. The costumes and make up of her create as a real Panjabi woman and if talk more on the use of make up in the whole film it uses different ways of make ups according to the story of the film. For example when she was arrested after trying to murder we see most of her feelings through her dark make up, at her wedding we see a bright high make up and when she was living freely with her cell mates at the prison we see a light make up.
If move to the acting and performances we can clearly see a very good acting of each character especially the main character. Aishwarya is one of the world famous actresses who can speak with her eyes and in this film also she does the same. The director makes us mostly see her feelings through extreme close ups of her eyes. For example soon after the incident of attempting murder, when the detective officer talks to her we see her inability of speaking and fear through an extreme close up of her eyes. And at the same time when she remembers her children also we see the pathetic situation through her eyes.
And also through some close ups at some special moments such as when Kiran sees her children we see her emotions well. There the director step by step makes us see her emotions like how she was anxiously waiting till they come and her emotions after they come.
Other characters especially the cell mates acts well because the audience is able to see the sadness and sufferings through each and every cell mate. When we see those faces we feel that all those cell mates have something to say.
The story runs with flashbacks and we get most of Kiran’s family life through the flashbacks and the director contrasts some shots for example Kiran’s husband’s funeral with her marriage.
Lighting also takes an important place. We see different ways of using lights through the whole film. Mostly the director keeps the darkness especially at the scenes of the prison. Sometimes he uses back light, key light and the fill light. Sometimes he uses only the key light.
If think about the use of sound through the whole film we can’t say that the director uses much more sounds in the film. But at certain times for example when Kiran’s husband threatens her we hear a fearful sound and at there wedding ceremony we hear a traditional Indian music and also when Kiran is alone at the cell we hear a female vocal sound mix with sadness.
The director used different camera angles to show the story more effectively. There we can see his use of high angles, low angles, tilt and pan shots and also zooming, tracking and the use of bird’s eye. At the same time we see his use of different shot sizes such as long shots, close ups etc. In the film most of scenes are taken at the high court. And there we see those scenes are taken by pan shots and it makes us see the facial expressions and the feelings of the people who are present at the court. Mostly we see his use of medium close ups, close ups, big close ups and extreme close ups of the main character.
And some moments the director uses the technique of bird’s eye for example at the cell, at the court and at the end of the show.
High angles and low angles are used at the court.
Though the director uses some different angles we cannot see most of angles in this type of genre, because these films build around in a one main character and the director gives the priority to the main character so mostly we see his use of different close ups of the protagonist which shows her feelings and attitudes. The story ends with a medium close up of the protagonist.
The film Troy
different from the film above. It is an historical film and goes under the category of epic. The film starts by saying “Greece, 3500 years ago.” So from there we get all the information according to that. The film Troy
is directed by Wolfgang Petersen, produced by Wolfgang Petersen, Diana Rathbun, Colin Wilson and Plan B and starring Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Brian Cox, Sean Bean, Peter O'Toole and Diane Kruger.
This film is concerning the Trojan War though sometimes it diverged from the myth. The story is an attempt to rebuild the past and gain some information on the past to the present generation. In brief the story flows like, Paris steals Helen away from Spartan prince Menelaus, who in turn successfully convinces his conquest-mad emperor brother Agamemnon to wage war against Troy with the help of his peerless soldier Achilles and, ultimately, a trusty wooden horse. The story deals with the themes of Love, Death, Honor, Sacrifice, and the Gods.
As the film is an epic it should bring us totally different images from the present. So the mise-en -scene of the film is mainly different from the costumes, backgrounds, make up and as this film has many fights the camera angles also different from the other films.
The costumes of the female characters are designed according to the time and male character especially the costumes of warriors and the costumes that they wear when they are free, are designed well.
And also we see the use of different equipments which are used for war during that time, and for travel also they used horse, carts and boats. The use of make up also good, especially when the warriors after the war we see their tiredness, fear and power through the make up. And the wounds and blood shed we see through the make up.
Acting and performances of the film also good the director creates number of good fights through the whole film. We mainly see a good acting and fighting skills of the characters such as Hector and Achilles and we see good facial expressions when they fight.
The theme of love played by Achilles and Briseis, the director make us see their emotion and love through the eye contacts.
Use of light takes an important place in the film. All the night scenes cover the candle light and fire. The castles at Troy and Sparta lighted with the fire light. Some fights are doing at night so light and darkness mixed well. The lights used finely at the tents. For example most of the times when Achilles at his tent we see only the use of back light and some times back light only with a key ligh.
The passing of the time shows through fine images of rising sun and moon.
Sound plays an important part in the film. At the exciting moments especially at the fights we hear the use of music instruments but through the whole film we hear a mournful female vocal sound which makes us feel the meaninglessness of war and destruction. When the Greek army defeats we hear that mournful female solo and also at Hector’s death the wailing mournful female vocals again. And at the end of the film "Remember Me", a pop song sung by Josh Groban with Tanja Tzarovska, uses the love theme from the film as its base, and yet still comes across as slightly overdone and saccharine. Not only these but the sounds at the war front and marching to the war also more effective.
When talk on the camera angles comparing with the film above we can see the director mainly uses deep focus scenes which gives wider information. The film starts with a deep focus scene.
Most of the times when the fights starts we see the use of deep focus scenes which shows how the two battles come from two directions to the war front.
And also the kingdom of Troy and Sparta show with deep focus scenes.
Other than the deep focus scenes we see high and low angle, tilt and pan shots, bird’s eye and zooming shots, and different shot sizes like medium close ups, close ups, big close ups etc. for example when Hector comes to fight with Achilles we see a zooming shot.
The film ends giving more information of the past and it makes the audience have a certain idea of the past.
Next film Shrek 2 directed by Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon, this is an animated film. Though this is an animated film this has some features of an adventure films as well as some comical aspect. In brief the plot of the film flows like this, Shrek, Fiona and Donkey set off to attend the ball.During the meal, Fiona's father Harold gets involved in an argument with Shrek, which ends with Shrek telling Fiona that they are leaving Far Far Away. Shrek agrees to the expedition in an attempt to bond with Fiona's parents.Shrek, Puss and Donkey use the card to travel to her Potion Factory. Back in the woods, Shrek and Donkey drink the potion, , Shrek and Donkey faint. Shrek is a handsome human while Donkey is a noble white stallion. On returning to Far Far Away, Fairy Godmother tricks Shrek into thinking that Fiona loves Charming, while Fiona is led to believe that Charming is actually Shrek himself, in human form. Shrek and Donkey charge into the ballroom and the fairy tale creatures begin to fight Fairy Godmother. Fiona realizes it's not Shrek she's dancing with. Shrek and Fiona are about to kiss, but Fiona tells Shrek she wants to live happily ever after, with the ogre she married. Shrek, Fiona and Donkey return to their true forms.
The film has some fairytale features, fairytales were invented during a time when people believed in things such as witches, ogres, giants and trolls, because some scenes are like imagined scenes and not matching with the real life. For example when Shrek, donkey and Fiona travels to the kingdom of Far far away they used an onion-shaped carriage which is quite similar to the carriage of Cinderella.
And also the animal characters and we see some characters like puss in boots and Pinokio that we have seen in some other fairytales. When we see the Beginning of the film, it opens with a book containing a fairy story, making us think that is what we are about to experience. The camera angle and the music in the action and almost the background is old identical to Sleeping fashioned, classical and beauty. We assume the film will be the same. Furthermore it starts with saying that “once upon a time” and these things make us feel it is a typical fairytale. But suddenly we see the book at the first scene is torn up by a dirty great big GREEN hand. So the viewer starts to think this might NOT be such a traditional story. Then the music changes abruptly to modern music an ugly green ogre appears from an outhouse. So the hero of the film is not a handsome smart prince but an ugly ogre. The director makes us see the facial expressions and feelings of the ogre in different close ups.
Furthermore through acting we see Shrek’s character as a pretty civilized, doing daily cleansing rituals, so this makes him appear like a human being. Through different shots and different camera angles we see the main character Shrek as a brave, kind and at the same time as a funny character.
From the beginning of the film we see the theme of love through a big close up of a ring and through a nice medium close up of the couple.
When both Shrek couple and the king and queen were at the dinning table we see a track shot of Shrek.
And also we see the use of deep focus scenes. For example when the Shrek couple goes to the kingdom and all those scenes’ backgrounds covered with a nice environment and also through their journey we see the climatic changes.
Using lights also does not have a difference with other films because here also the director uses sometimes only key light and sometimes only the key light and the back light.
We don’t see a clear difference of Fiona’s costumes when she plays as an ogre and as princes. It may be to make us do not feel any difference between the ogre and the royals.
Music also plays according to the scenes and most of the time it gives a joyful music with songs.
The film ends with giving a moral to the audience.