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Chapter 2 Notes: Mise-en-Scene

by: Alexandra Reshetova

Chapter 2 Notes: Mise-en-Scene FILM 1010

Marketplace > Georgia State University > Film > FILM 1010 > Chapter 2 Notes Mise en Scene
Alexandra Reshetova
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Hope these help!
Lauren Cramer
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Alexandra Reshetova on Monday January 18, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to FILM 1010 at Georgia State University taught by Lauren Cramer in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 123 views. For similar materials see FILM AESTHETICS & ANALYSIS in Film at Georgia State University.


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Date Created: 01/18/16
Chapter 2: Mise-en- Scene: Exploring a Material World  Mise-en-scene: 1. Placement in a scene 2. Onstage 3. Refers to the elements of a movie scene that are placed in position before the filming actually starts 4. Once it does begin, it is used in certain ways 5. Includes everything that is visible on the screen; 6. Includes aspects of lighting, actors, costumes, settings and sets, makeup and other features A short history of Mise-en-Scene  First Movies = scenes Theatrical Mise-en-Scene and the Prehistory of Cinema  Heritage of Mise-en-thene = starts with early Greek theatre (around 500 B.C.) (evolved through 19 century)  First Stages = places where religious truths and beliefs of a community were acted out  Renaissance Era = the elements of mise-en-scene reflected a secular world of politics and personal relationships th  Start of 19 century = lighting and other technology developments changed mise-en scene; started to expect the cinema  Stages and Sets = grew larger  Productions = support huge scenery and machinery th  19 century = emphasis on individual actors (become center of mise-en-scene) 1900-1912: Early Cinema’s Theatrical Influences  1900 = films show theatrical influence  Five Tableaux = short scenes presented by sets and actors as pictures of important dramatic moments  Around 1906 = mercury vapor lamps and indoor lighting systems were implemented  Trick Films (Georges Melies) = contained painted props and sets (adapted from stage shows of the magicians) 1915-1928: Silent Cinema and the Star System  The film Cabiria = initiated the public’s taste for movie spectators  1915 = set designers and art directors became necessary  Rapid Expansion of movie industry = rise of studio systems (in Europe, Japan, Hollywood)  Studios = contained their own buildings, lots, and personnel  Late 1910’s = cinema promoted and developed its own stars  Star System = identified an actor with a certain genre that contained a particular mise- en-scene  Costumes = helped shape individualized glamour for female actors 1930s-1960s: Studio-Era Production  End of 1920s = introduction of sound  Studio System = a company controlling film production and distribution had a lot of capital to invest in production systems and facilities  Soundstages = large soundproof buildings  Soundstages = designed to house the construction and movement of sets  Art Directors = important to studio’s signature style  David O. Selznick = coined the title “production designer” 1940-1970: New Cinematic Realism  Photographic realism  The use of exterior spaces and actual location  Location shooting = did not influence until WWII  Location scouting became important 1975-Present” Mise-en-scene and the Blockbuster  Re-creating realistic environments and imagining mise-en-scene shifted to computer graphics and models technicians (they make the models to be transferred onto the film) The Elements of Mise-en-Scene  Settings and sets  Props  Actors  Costumes  Lighting Setting and Sets  Setting = a fictional or real place where the action and events of the film occur  Set = strictly speaking, a constructed setting, often on a studio soundstage, but both the setting and the set can combine constructed and natural elements  Members of Art Department (work within the production designer’s vision)= make sets and arrange props within settings  First Films = on stage sets or in outdoor setting  Today’s Films = still use constructed sets and actual locations; also use computer enhancements Scenic Realism and Atmosphere  Realism = term used to describe the extent to which a movie makes a truthful and honest picture of a person, society, or other dimension of life  Realism can also refer to = accuracy of characters, actions or convincing views of those characters and developments that are logical and recognizable  Scenic Realism = the physical, cultural, and historical accuracy of the backgrounds, objects, and other figures in a film  Mise-en-scene of a film = cerates atmosphere and idea/feeling(connotations)  Connotations developed through the actions of the characters and the developments of the story Props, Actors, Costumes, and Lights  Mise-en-scene = in place with the first films  Early decades of film = explorations on how to use the elements of mise-en-scene Props  Prop - an object that functions as a part of the set or as a tool used by the actors; also known as property  Props can also be creatures or natural objects  Two forms of props showing up in a movie: 1. Instrumental Props = objects displayed and used according to their common function 2. Metaphorical Props = the same objects reinvented or used for an unexpected purpose or invested with metaphorical meaning  Props also have significance in two other ways 1. Cultural Props = carry meaning associated with their place in a society 2. Contextualized Prop = obtain a meaning through their changing place in a narrative (“McGuffins”) = props that appear to be important at first; these props are meant to move a plot forward but are of little importance to the main drama Staging: Performance and Blocking  Staging = the procedure of designing, choosing, or changing the performance area for a film; includes the utilization of stagecraft elements; the process of organizing the stage also starts here  Performance = describes the actor’s use of physical expression, language, gesture to bring the character to life and to communicate important dimensions of that character to the audience; can distinguish two elements in a performance: 1. voice, 2. bodily movement  Success or Failure of Film = depends on actor’s performance  Performance = 1. Voice: includes natural sound of an actor’s voice along with various accent or intonations, 2. Bodily Movement = includes physical gestures, facial expressions, eye contact and movement  Different acting styles define performances  Stylized acting = employing highly self conscious and emphatic gestures or speaking in pronounced tones with elevated diction; actor is aware that he or she is acting  Naturalistic Acting = requires an actor to fully and naturally embody the role that he or she is playing in order to communicate that character’s essential self (influential since the 1940s) Types of Actors  Leading Actors = the two or three actors who appear most often in a film; play the central characters  Character Actors = recognizable actors associated with particular character types or minor parts; secondary characters  Supporting Actors = play secondary characters in a film (serving as foils or companions)  Supporting Actors and Character Actors = add to the complexity of a film’s plotline or emotional impact  Extras = background artists; give personality and character to large crowd scenes  Actors = cast for parts because of their association with certain character types that they seem suited to portray due to their acting style, physical features, or previous roles Stars  Movie Stars (leading actors) = people who bring a powerful aura to their performance making them the focal points of mise-en-scene  Star Performers = dominate action and space of mise-en-scene, bring history and past performances to new films, and get a status that changes their individual physical presence  A star’s performance = draws attention to important events and themes in a film Blocking  Blocking = the arrangement and movement of actors in relation to each other within the mise-en-scene  Social Blocking = the arrangements of characters to highlight relations among them  Graphic Blocking = arranges characters or groups according to visual patterns to show spatial harmony, tension, or other visual atmosphere Costumes and Make Up  Costumes = the clothing and related accessories worn by a character that define the character and contribute to the visual impression and design of the film overall  Make Up = highlight, disguise, or distort certain aspects of the face or body  They function in films in the following ways: 1. Costumes and make up are reproduced when they support scenic realism 2. Costumes and make up point to important parts of a character’s personality when they function as character highlights 3. Costumes and make up change or lack of change becomes a crucial way to understand and follow a character and the development of the story when they act as narrative markers 4. Costumes, make up, and prosthetics can be used for overall production design  Costumes and Make Up that appear natural and realistic = carry cultural connotations Lighting  Lighting = sources of illumination- both natural light and electrical lamps- used to shade, present, and accentuate figures, objects, and spaces in the mise-en-scene; primarily the responsibility of director of photography and the lighting crew  Lighting = key element in cinematography  Mise-en-scene lighting = refers to light sources located within the scene itself; may be used to shade and highlight  Natural Lighting = light derived from a natural source in a scene or setting, such as the illumination of the sun or firelight  Set Lighting = distributes an evenly diffused illumination through a scene as a kind of lighting base  Directional Lighting = lighting coming from a single direction  Three Point Lighting = a lighting technique common in Hollywood that combines key lighting, fill lighting, and backlighting to blend the distribution of light in a scene  Key Lighting = the main source of non-natural lighting in a scene (high-key or low- key lighting)  High-key Lighting = little contrast; even; used for melodramas and realists films  Low-key Lighting = contrasts between light and dark is stark; dramatic; used in horror films and film noir  Fill Lighting = a lighting technique using secondary fill lights to balance the key lighting by removing shadows or to emphasize other spaces and objects in the scene  Highlighting = using lighting to brighten or emphasize specific characters or objects  Backlighting = a highlighting technique that illuminates the person or object from behind, tending to silhouette the subject; sometimes called edgelighting  Frontal Lighting = techniques used to illuminate the subject from the front  Side Lighting = used to illuminate the subject from the side  Underlighting = used to illuminate the subject from below  Top Lighting = used to illuminate the subject from above  The effects of lighting: range from hard to soft lighting  Shading = the use of shadows to shape or draw attention to certain features  Chiaroscuro Lighting = a pictorial arrangement of light and dark to produce contrast and depth Space and Design  Design Team = coordinates the overall look of the film; use space and composition to create a scene for the film’s action Making Sense of Mise-en-Scene  Mise-en-scene: describes everything seen within the frame  Properties of Cinematography = framing, color, angle  Visual impression begins with what is in front of the camera Defining Our Place in a Film’s Material World  Value of Mise-en-scene = it defines where we are  The place made by the elements = essential condition for the meaning of the character’s actions  Mise-en-scene as an external condition and as a measure of character Mise-en-Scene as an External Condition  Indicates surfaces, exteriors, and objects that define the material possibilities in a place or space  Mise-en-Scene: describes the material limits of a film’s physical world Mise-en-Scene as a Measure of Character  Dramatizes how a person or a group makes an identity through interaction with the surrounding setting and sets  Interactions between characters and elements = may project more meaning to audience than the interactions between the characters Interpretive Contexts for Mise-en-Scene  Naturalistic and Theatrical Mise-en-scene = two prominent contexts  Naturalistic Mise-en-scene = appears realistic and recognizable  Theatrical Mise-en-scene = denaturalizes the locations and other elements so that its features appear exaggerated, unfamiliar, or artificial The Naturalistic Tradition  How a place looks is the way it is supposed to look  Characteristics include: follow laws of nature and society; contain logical relation to each other; the characters and the mise-en-scene define each other Historical Mise-en-Scene  Re-creates a recognizable historical scene Everyday Mise-en-Scene  Constructs commonplace backdrops for the characters and the action The Theatrical Tradition  Elements of the mise-en-scene bend or violate the laws of society and nature  Dramatic inconsistencies happen within or across settings  Mise-en-scene takes on an independent life (requires confrontations between the characters and the elements)  Can also call attention to the constructed nature of the world portrayed in film Expressive Mise-en-Scene  The sets, props, settings, and other dimensions of the mise-en-scene declare themselves independently of the characters and describe an emotional or spiritual life Constructive Mise-en-Scene  The world can be shaped and even changed through the work or desire of the characters Spectacularizing the Movies  Movie Spectaculars = films in which the importance and complexity of the mise-en- scene share equal emphasis with or outshine the actors, the story, and other points  What distinguishes a movie spectacular = an equal emphasis on the powers of the mise-en-scene to make a meaning of a film


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