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What is Mise en Scène?

The term ‘Mise En Scéne’ is one of the most important terms in the vocabulary of filmmaking, and at the same time, a complex idea to wrap your mind around. It’s a French term that translates to ‘Placing on stage’. It is used to describe the setting of a scene in a film and refers to everything placed in front of the camera. Mise en scéne in film signifies the overall effect of how several elements come together in a scene for the audience.

These elements include:

  • Composition- Composition is the selection of frames and camera angles that make up a shot. Shot compositions of scenes are usually determined in the story-boarding phase of filmmaking. These are designed and manipulated according to the emotional themes of the scenes.

  • Production Design- Production design refers to everything that helps build the world of the scene, and provide context to the story. This setting created by the art direction department should strengthen the mise en scène.

  • Lighting- Lighting is one of the key elements of mise en scène. It conveys the intended mood most clearly and is used to create and emphasize specific things about a scene, object, or actor.

  • Costumes- Costume choices strengthen the quality and tone of the film, especially in genres like historic and fantasy. A costume designer must know the colors of a character’s costume; reconcile this with the colors suited to the actor playing the part and the color palette of the production design. Hence, while selecting costumes ensure that they match with the created mise en scène.

  • Hair and Make-up- Like character costumes, hair and makeup are fundamental ingredients in the story being told. They bring the characters to life according to the styles of a particular era.

  • Film Texture- Film texture refers to the appearance of movie on the screen. The texture depends on factors like the type of camera or type of film stock used, and the usage of post-production effects and filters before the final screening of the film.

All these elements of mise-en-scène are needed for the audience to stay captivated and help with the willing suspension of disbelief, regardless of the film’s genre.


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