Seeing film
Mise-en-scène
in Beginning film studies (second edition)
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This chapter aims to introduce readers to approaches and terms essential for the analysis of film’s visual components. It begins by discussion of the term ‘mise-en-scène’, defined as everything that the spectator sees on screen. The chapter then considers in turn each of the ‘pro-filmic’ elements of mise-en-scène: i.e. those things that contribute to a shot’s visual effects but exist prior to the camera’s intervention: setting, props, lighting, costume, and acting or performance. The section that follows itemises and evaluates the attributes of cinematography itself: i.e. shot distance; the height, angle and level of the camera; masking of the lens; the camera’s movement; and focus. A further section considers the history, aesthetics and politics of colour in film. Finally, a sequence from 12 Years a Slave (2013) is offered as a case study in the analysis of mise-en-scène.

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