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Old February 24th, 2003, 11:02 AM   #1
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best Mise-en-scene ever?

He everyone,
I have a project for a film class which is to find a scene that demonstrates good use of one aspect of mise-en-scene (i.e. camera angle, lighting, color, costume, props, editing, camera movement, composition, montage...).
I want the best example I can find. So far I'm thinking of a scene from Spielberg's Dual, for composition (he uses the set and props to keep you from getting a good look at who the trucker is--builds suspence).
Can anyone give me a really killer scene (it doesn't have to be suspenceful or "exciting" i.e. the use of music in a scene from Casablanca, it just has to use mise-en-scene in a clever or phenominal way.
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Old February 24th, 2003, 12:22 PM   #2
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I ask every film student this. What the hell is mise-en-scene?
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Old February 24th, 2003, 01:08 PM   #3
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Stuart Little?

"Mice in scene"
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Old February 24th, 2003, 01:20 PM   #4
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Not that Keith was asking me...

Mise-en-scène (literally, "setting-in-scene") is a synonym for scenery or background or context. With reference to a stage play, it usually signifies the sets, props, flats, stage, lighting etc.: the environment that the actors play within. In the sense of a larger story, as in a movie, novel, etc., it can take on the broader meaning of the plot's backstory or milieu, all the events and characters etc. that have led up to and supported the the presentation of focal events and characters. Other synonyms include ambiance, atmosphere, climate, medium, surroundings, world.

As jargon, as Keith seems to be pointing out, it's lost most all usefulness when talking about the production aspect of filmmaking, mostly because its most frequent manner of use is to mean "the production aspect of filmmaking." For fancy expressions to retain their specificity, they oughtn't be bandied about lightly when more general--and more understandable--words suffice.

Another fun theater word is dramaturgy, which, according to Webster's, means "the art or technique of dramatic composition and theatrical representation." Another Swiss Army Knife word, this can refer to the visual composition of actors and sets on the stage, or to structure and arrangement on the page of dramatic elements in a written play. Anyone who claims to have expertise in matters dramaturgical should be properly termed a dramaturg.

I think Samuel Beckett was less a playwright than a dramaturg.

Glenn: how about the machine works sequence from Chaplin's Modern Times? It's visually grabbing, and it works on both literal and metaphorical levels.
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Old February 24th, 2003, 04:18 PM   #5
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hello,
i'm not 100% sure if this would fit (if it doesn't someone please explain why, i'd like to know as i'm still learning a lot, thanks!). but the ending of "All the President's Men".
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Old February 24th, 2003, 04:23 PM   #6
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I forget. What happened at the end?
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Old February 24th, 2003, 05:09 PM   #7
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the shot on the news-wire (don't know the exact name) spewing out the conclusion to the whole investigation. with the written word being taken for granted. i think it made more of an impact than seeing a news cast, press conference, etc. it stayed true to the premise (i think i'm using that right).
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Old February 24th, 2003, 05:13 PM   #8
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Does anyone have a "picture" of how such a Mise-en-scene should
look? I'm not following the description very much....
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Old February 24th, 2003, 08:26 PM   #9
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Heya all,

BAH! i was a film student for 4 years and you are giving me 4am paper due the next day nightmares.

Rob put on ANY movie, any television, any live play or musical and you have mise-en-scene. It in its broadest sense it is simple everything that you see on the screen to do with the visual matter. The set, positioning, symetry, lighting, ect.ect.ect.

By the way, this french reference as we used to refer too as "another wanky french term" is a theatrical expression that made a lot more sense looking at a constructed set in real life, and how they chose to light it and basically how well it was built to be useful for the actors to portray a story.

Glen, I think if you are doing this for film studies, you should actually use a film that is noted for its mise-en-scene rather than just a pop corn flick. There are examples of films out there where the film makers themselves had 'mise-en-scene' very much on their minds as they made it.

I would recommend seeing
Fellini's "8 1/2" or
"La Dolce Vita"

Burtolucci's
"Il Conformisto" (in english "The Conformist", this one in particular is noted as being one the best looking and designed movies by critics, ever made)

Visconti's "Rocco e i suoi fratelli" (or Rocko and his Brothers, this is just a great movie and amazing looking)

Godard's "Comtemp" or "Breathless" (these are those wanky french movies, they are great though, that pertain to the sense of mise-en-scene, they were made by an ex movie critic!)

If you really must watch american movies, how about Billy Wilder's
"Double Indemnity" or Howard Hawkes "Public Enemy".

If it must be newer, use a director that really adheared to the original thought. Some a lot more obvious examples are Hitchcocks work, Kubrik's work, even Scorsese's work.

If i had any to recommend it would be "The Conformist" that is quite possibly the most beautiful movie ever made.

Anyways,
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Old February 25th, 2003, 12:11 AM   #10
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Use a scene from Citizen Kane. Any scene.
Just fastforward randomly.

If it was me, I would pick the scene from The Birds, where the female lead (forgot her name), is standing outside, and you see the playground behind her gradualy filling up with birds. Perhaps my favorite scene from any movie ever.
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Old February 25th, 2003, 12:57 AM   #11
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I just finished watching Victor Fleming's 1942 version of John Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat. Although most of it was shot on a soundstage, Fleming did a great job of setting the scene in 1930's Monterey, California. Many very appropriate examples in that flick.

Citizen Kane, as Dylan suggested, would also be a rich target choice.
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Old February 25th, 2003, 07:38 AM   #12
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Godfather? Some of the shots during the opening of godfather 1
are very powerful... or a shot where you don't see marlon brando's
eyes.....

Would that be a good example as well?
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Old February 25th, 2003, 08:54 AM   #13
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Mise-en-scene refers onto to what is visable on the screen, even if the notion of a full house behind that room exists, it dosn't actually factor into mise-en-scene, it only looks at exactly what is being shown to you.

Usually the cast themselves are not the best examples to you, but rather the interplay between the set and the character.

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Old February 25th, 2003, 10:41 AM   #14
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To be as pretensious as humanly possible, we should all sit around in a cafe and debate as cineastes whether montage or mise-en-scene were more important to the evolution of cinema verite.

All kidding aside the Barnes and Noble FilmGlossary has a good brief disussion of mise-en-scene and montage.

Mise-en-scene
In essence a reply to advocates of montage, the proponents of "Mise-en-scene" understand, accentuate and celebrate the importance of the individual frame of film and what it contains. A psychological unity exists in a film from one frame to the next. There should not be a disruptive emphasis on the complete unity of each frame in and of itself without giving credence to the totality. It is similar to the concepts of continuity within the frame and its relation to the next and the discontinuity involved in complex montages where many images are presented on a single frame. (Also see "montage".)

Montage
In the production and editing of film this term has come to refer to a seemingly unrelated series of frames combined so that one scene quickly dissolves into the next, shifting categories, effects and settings in such a manner as to convey a quick passage of time or an abstract unity through thematic devices such as meter, rhythm, tonality, and intellectuality (viz Eisenstein). Continuity, if it exists, is not captured in a frame by frame juxtaposition but rather through an abstraction. (Also see "mise-en-scene".)

http://video.barnesandnoble.com/search/glossary.asp
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Old February 25th, 2003, 03:25 PM   #15
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Peter Greenaway films are tops for composed scenes. Greenaway is an experienced painter and many, many scenes are compsoed as for the canvas.

Top Picks:
1) The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover
2) A Zed and Two Noughts
3) Prospero's Books

Of course, Kubrick is also a master of scene as is Welles.


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