1 Mise-en-scène

MISE-EN-SCENE All the things that are “put in the scene”: the setting, the decor, the lighting, the costumes, the performance etc. Narrative films often manipulate the elements of mise-en-scene, such as decorcostume, and acting to intensify or undermine the ostensible significance of a particular scene. (Yale Film Studies Guide)

Far from Heaven, Todd Haynes homage to 1950s melodrama, is a lushly coloured, highly stylized dramatic interpretation of the impact of an emergent civil rights movement on small town America.  Set in Connecticut in the late 1950s, Haynes uses  colour, lighting, props, costumes, decor, staging and acting–the key elements of mise-en-scene–decisively to describe the emotional experiences and values of his characters and their community at this pivotal historical juncture.

Consider one of the two scenes viewed in class and discuss how one or more elements of mise-en-scene operate to enhance the story’s meaning.  How are the moods, relationships and social standings of the characters expressed through costume, body language, lighting, decor, staging, etc.?  How are the film’s key themes of alienation, social conflict and transformation given voice in these scenes?

Assignment PDF: Mise en scene