Introduction to Film Analysis/mise-en-scene

Analyzing a film, it can be fun. It can also mean a lot of work. If we have the tools, however, it can go by a lot smoother. Any film worth watching is also worth analyzing. The filmmaker is going to try and use every trick in the book to influence the audience. If you want to make your own films or simply want to understand how filmmakers are influencing you, then analyzing can be useful.

The most important concept of film analysis, in my opinion, is mise-en-scene. With mise-en-scene, we not only are able to analyze scenes and full movies, but we are also able to make films and also get a firm grasp on film theory. It’s very important.

So what is mise-en-scene? It is essentially the study of each individual frame of a film. What makes up the shot? Everything from color values, actor positioning, camera angles, lighting, and props to dominant visual contrasts, film stocks, and how a frame is divided by what’s within it. It is generally considered to have fifteen different points which, when applied to a frame, will give you a grand perspective on the film. To find out more detailed descriptions of the fifteen points, simply google the following: “15 points of mise-en-scene.” It will go into far greater detail than I can here, and will give visual examples so you can follow along.

Now, film analysis differs from film theory slightly. Film theory is about certain aspects of film. I’ll give an example. The Auteur Theory. This is the theory that a film director is the author of a film and that all their films taken as a whole will have similarities. You need the background of the theory in order to apply it. However, you need the film analysis to discover the similarities between the films. The two, theory and analysis, are intertwined and are complimentary to each other.

I will be using both in upcoming posts as I delve into specific examples in film.


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