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Visual style and British film criticism, 1946–78
Author: John Gibbs

This book explores the role of mise-en-scene in melodrama criticism, and considers what happened to detailed criticism as major theoretical movements emerged in the 1970s. Mise-en-scene, and other ways of conceiving visual style, has been central to so many important debates that the writing examined in the book shaped the field in enduring ways. The book provides a cross-section of the British culture and its attitudes to film. It also considers a range of important contexts, from material conditions of film viewing (and therefore criticism) to the cultural and political shifts of 1956. The book further investigates the frequently asserted connection between literary criticism and the approaches developed in Movie. It identifies the range of different approaches to interpreting mise-en-scene advanced in Movie, drawing out sections on action, camera movement and placing, connections between different parts of the film, and a range of further debates. 'Tales of Sound and Fury' is an extraordinary article, and Elsaesser's appreciation of the plastic and expressive qualities of domestic melodrama and the broader melodramatic tradition is exemplary. In the early 1970s, writing on melodrama provided some of the richest expressions of mise-en-scene criticism. The book embodies a number of approaches which were to undermine the emergent interest in the interpretation of the film style. Melodrama criticism is a crucial focus for shifts in film criticism and theory, and for this history.

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Sam Rohdie

Mise en scène Sound comes to the cinema at the end of the 1920s. Its immediate impact on the cinema was to theatricalise it in the worst sense. Film became subject to the word, to the script, to dialogue which tended to immobilise it: both camera and actors. Much of cinema in the early years of sound (and not merely confined to the cinema of the United States) was a staging and recording of literary works (talkies). At the same time as sound altered the cinema in a backward direction certainly in relation to the fluidity of films of the 1920s, theatre also

in Film modernism
John Gibbs

6 Melodrama and mise-­en-­scène Considered as an expressive code, melodrama might therefore be described as a particular form of mise-­en-­scène, characterised by a dynamic use of spatial and musical categories, as opposed to intellectual and literary ones.1 This suggestion, from Thomas Elsaesser’s extraordinary article ‘Tales of Sound and Fury: observations on the family melodrama’, recognises a particularly strong relationship between mise-­en-­scène and melodrama. In the early 1970s, writing on melodrama provided some of the richest expressions of mise-­en-­scène

in The life of mise-en-scène
Towards a cinema of the senses
Martine Beugnet

evocation. In its mise en scène of desire, Denis’ filmmaking not only creates correspondences between the senses, but, as we will see, it also confuses the traditional process of identification and point of view. Desire thus emerges in its ambivalence and diversity, as inherently linked to transgression. It affects individuals regardless of their gender, race or nationality, and as such, challenges the taboos and hierarchies

in Claire Denis
Franju’s cinematic aesthetics
Kate Ince

which I shall make particular use in this chapter, because it relates to all the aesthetic issues I have started to outline, is mise-en-scène . This can be defined as ‘the contents of the frame and the way they are organised’ (5). If the contents of the frame can quickly be enumerated as including at least décor, lighting, props, costumes and the actors themselves, then the organisation of these contents brings in the actors

in Georges Franju
Series: Beginnings
Author: Andrew Dix

Beginning film studies offers a critical introduction to this academic discipline for undergraduate (and other) readers coming to it for the first time. Written accessibly, it ranges across key topics, theories and approaches in film studies. For this new volume, the author has thoroughly updated the first edition, writing fresh case studies, tracking and evaluating recent developments in the study of film, and providing up-to-the-minute suggestions for further reading.

The book begins by considering film’s formal features (mise-en-scène, editing and sound) before moving outwards to discuss narrative, genre, authorship, the star, and film’s ideological engagement (its staging of class, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity). Later chapters on film industries and on film consumption – where and how we watch movies (not least in the digital age) – reflect and assess the discipline’s recent geographical ‘turn’.

The book takes a global perspective, illustrating its arguments by reference to film cultures ranging from Hollywood to Bollywood, and from the French ‘New Wave’ to contemporary Hong Kong. Each chapter concludes with a case study, exploring such topics as sound in The Great Gatsby, narrative in Inception and ideology in Blue Is the Warmest Colour. The superhero movie is studied as a genre, and Jennifer Lawrence as a star. Beginning film studies is also interactive, with readers enabled throughout to reflect critically upon the field.

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Moments in television

In television scholarship, sound and image have been attended to in different ways, but image has historically dominated. The chapters gathered here attend to both: they weigh the impact and significance of specific choices of sound and image, explore their interactions, and assess their roles in establishing meaning and style. The contributors address a wide range of technical and stylistic elements relating to the television image. They consider production design choices, the spatial organisation of the television frame and how camera movements position and reposition parts of the visible world. They explore mise-en-scène, landscapes and backgrounds, settings and scenery, and costumes and props. They attend to details of actors’ performances, as well as lighting design and patterns of colour and scale. As regards sound, each chapter distinguishes different components on a soundtrack, delineating diegetic from non-diegetic sound, and evaluating the roles of elements such as music, dialogue, voice-over, bodily sounds, performed and non-performed sounds. Attending to sound design, contributors address motifs, repetition and rhythm in both music and non-musical sound. Consideration is also given to the significance of quietness, the absence of sounds, and silence. Programmes studied comprise The Twilight Zone, Inspector Morse, Children of the Stones, Dancing on the Edge, Road, Twin Peaks: The Return, Bodyguard, The Walking Dead and Mad Men. Sound and image are evaluated across these examples from a wide range of television forms, formats and genres, which includes series, serial and one-off dramas, children’s programmes, science fiction, thrillers and detective shows.

Author: Phil Powrie

One of the key features of Jean-Jacques Beineix's relationship with the film image is the notion of seduction and the erotic. This book shows Beineix's films form a coherent body of work and sketches out a psychodrama formed by Beineix's feature films. It explains, the cinéma du look was placed by many, including Beineix himself, in a position of confrontation with the cinema of the nouvelle vague. The book considers the early 1980s debates concerning the film image which led to the view espoused by Jean-Michel Frodon, after a brief account of Beineix's apprenticeship years. It attempts to place Beineix's work within the context of the development of French cinema, and discourses on the French cinema, as they evolved during the 1980s. Beineix's first feature film, Diva, enjoyed considerable success, becoming something of a cult film for the youth audience of the time, as well as launching the careers of Richard Bohringer and Dominique Pinon. More than any of the films of the cinéma du look, La Lune dans le caniveau exemplifies the characteristics Bassan enumerates: a mise en scène, which privileges exuberance, light, movement, especially the curves and curls of the camera, and an emphasis on sensation. Bereavement after IP5 turned Beineix away from feature filmmaking, despite several propositions from American producers, Alien Resurrection and The Avengers among them.

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Author: Neil Sinyard

This book explores why Jack Clayton had made so few films and why most of them failed to find a large audience. It examines the kind of criticism they generated, sometimes adulatory but sometimes dismissive and even condescending. The book hopes to throw light on certain tendencies and developments within the film industry and of film criticism, the British film industry and film criticism in particular. The fact that Clayton's films fit David Bordwell's paradigm of the art film is one explanation why producers had difficulty with him and why mainstream cinema found his work hard to place and assimilate. Clayton's pictorial eye has sometimes antagonised critics: they often take exception to some aspect of his mise-en-scene. Clayton had come to prominence with Room at the Top, around the time of the British 'Free Cinema' movement and immediately prior to the so-called British 'new-wave' films of the early 1960s from directors such as Tony Richardson and John Schlesinger. Thorold Dickinson's evocation of the Russian atmosphere and, in particular, his use of suspenseful soundtrack to suggest ghostly visitation undoubtedly had an influence on Jack Clayton's style in both The Bespoke Overcoat and The Innocents. The critical controversy concerning the status of Jack Clayton as director and artist is probably at its most intense over The Pumpkin Eater. Clayton stressed the importance of an opening that established right away the situation of 'a woman in crisis' but wanted to delay the Harrods scene so as to build up an atmosphere of suspense.

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John Gibbs

Conclusion We leave mise-­en-­scène criticism at a perilous point in its history, hemmed in by two movements which have shaped the field in the intervening period, the generalising statements of theory on one side and a prosaic poetics on the other. Between the writing explored in previous pages and the present day much has happened, of course: the international and cross-­disciplinary impact of a variety of forms of film theory, the work of Cavell, Wilson and Rothman at the border between philosophy and detailed criticism, the massive development of the study

in The life of mise-en-scène