Inthis essay I will be talking about the use of mise-en-scène to convey narrativein a film sequence from the movie titanic, directed by James Cameron.
I will befocusing on this film because I think that the film sequences in this movieshow the many different uses of mise-en-scene very effectively and it is veryvisible to see the use of the different forms of mise-en-scene that pull thescene together. “Anarrative is a story that you write or tell to someone, usually in greatdetail. A narrative can be a work of poetry or prose, or even song, theater, ordance.” (Vocublary.
com, 2018). Mise-en-scene isthe terminology used for the arrangement of everything within a frame, such as setting,lighting, actors, body language, props, costumes and staging. David Bordwellmarks out four general areas: setting, costumes and makeup, lighting, and stagingin his book. (Bordwell, 1985) Theterm mise-en-scene itself is a French word, which means ‘The arrangement of thescenery (oxford dictionary, 2018)’.
Another part ofMise-en-scene is considering the way a film sequence is shot, so things likethe framework and camera angles are also a part of this. David A.C.
writes inhis book a History of Narrative film that Mise-en-scene is made up the thingsthat actually “within the shot itself as opposed to the effects created bycutting”, so basically, he is trying to say here that everything that you film,and that is physically there in front of the camera, then that ismise-en-scene. (MOURA, 2004). Thescene that I am going to look at in this essay is from the movie titanic and itis one of last sequences when Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater sink into theocean and Rose DeWitt Bukater climbs on to a door, which is unable to hold bothof them. This scene is very emotional, and it uses many different cameratechniques to deliver the narrative and show viewers what kind of situationRose and Jack are in.
(Screener, 2016) SettingWhentalking about setting’s we are normally looking at things like costume, make-up, lighting and staging. The setting createsthe sense of the mood of the scene and gives an atmosphere to it, it can alsogive us a sense of the characters emotions. Settings when making a film is amain part the mise-en-scene. The setting can be both a fictional ornon-fictional set.
The sets that get used in a film all contribute to showingthe realism and atmosphere. The term realism is what people who watch the filmsequence say when the film sequence creates and truthful picture of a society,or a character or whatever aspect of real life that the movie is trying toportray. When viewers talk about realism is can relate to the psychological oremotional accuracy in the characters, viewers want to see recognizable orlogical actions and developments in a story line, they basically want to seesomething convincing and relatable.”Setting creates both a sense of place and a mood andit may also reflect a character’s emotional state of mind. It can be entirely fabricated within a studio– either as an authentic re-construction of reality or as a whimsical fiction –but it may also be found and filmed on-location.” (College Film & Media Studies, n.d.
) If we look at the setting of the scene above, we cansee that it is dark lighting and the costumes of Rose DeWitt Bukater and JackDawson have been covered with ice to show us that they are freezing to death. RoseDeWitt Bukater is laying down on top of the door out of the water and JackDawson is nearly fully submerged into the water. This shows us how chivalrous JackDawson is by giving Rose DeWitt Bukater the opportunity to climb up on the doorinstead of himself. Both Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater are filmed in thesame shot together, so we can see both the character’s and their situations. Theway that this scene is portrayed really goes into the aspect of realism, eventhough the scene itself was shot in a studio, the way it was portrayed andacted, it looked real. With the lighting in the studio, to Rose DeWitt Bukaterand Jack Dawson being covered in white frost and blue lips to show theimpression that they really were freezing to death. This really helped thedevelopment of the storyline and it was convincing, with all the mise-en-scenethat was in front of the camera whilst it was being shot in the studio, it reallyled to a really convincing performance on screen.
The viewers really got toview what could have been a reality, with the dead frozen bodies around them inthe ocean, it looked like a convincing act. (Facebook, 2016)Lighting Lighting has one of most important thing when making a filmto show emotion within the film. The director of a movie must make that thelighting is matching what atmosphere they are trying to portray. When making afilm a director uses two types of lighting approaches, low-key lighting andhigh-key lighting. High key lighting is mostly seen in movies like comedies,romantic movies and musicals. With high key lighting a director trying to avoidany dark areas in the frame, the director wants to make sure that everythinglooks bright, trying hard to make sure there are no shadows.
The high-keylighting has an effect of its own. Low-key lighting is usually used in moviessuch as thrillers and horror movies. The lighting pattern that is used withthis type of lighting that has both bright and dark areas in the frame. This addsto the eerie atmosphere that these movies are trying to create. During this scene in the titanic, we can clearly see thatmost of the scene we can see the use of low-key lighting in order portray deathand to really show what has happened when the titanic sank. The movies directorused both high-key and low-key lighting whilst filming to show the contrast ofeverything when the titanic started to sink. We can clearly see that becausethe ship is meant to be in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and this is meantto be late at night, so the lighting is very dark around the titanic. Thelighting that is used whilst filming the scenes in titanic really show us thecontrast throughout the movie it attracts viewers when we physically see thedifference in the scenes with the low-key lighting and high-key lightingcontrast.
In the start of the movie we see the lighting in the movie as verybright and making it look like an extravagant ship and this really sets themood and glamour of it all. High-key lighting creates a sense of culture andhow rich some people on the ship were whilst it was showing the glamourousareas of the ship. However later on when it was switched to the part that I amanalysing, and the lighting is switched to low-key lighting this really givesthe viewers a sense of real death and how the titanic was sinking and also thelighting within this scene became darker and darker as the lights in the shipwere also going out as it sank. This scene really does show that this is thelast time of the titanic.
(national geographic , 2018)CostumeCostume is really big part of mise-en-scene because it iswhat the characters are wearing within the frame. Make-up is another massivepart of costume as it adds to the realism that is being portrayed. Costumesalso give a sort insight to the viewer of a character’s personality or statusin society. Actors can wear costumes that range from fashionable suits anddresses, (which would portray on upper class characters) to wearing more normaldull coloured clothing, or clothes that are a bit ripped in places (this wouldportray lower class characters). Make-up is another thing is important when itcomes to costumes, the way make-up is applied to an actor’s face and body andthe way they may sometimes alter a person’s face to look disfigured reallycontributes towards what the character may be like and what the story might be. Costume’s are probably the mostnoticeable part of mise-en-scene.
When talking about costume we are talking aboutthe actual clothes that an actor wears and also the makeup that they may wear.The costumes represent the personality or status of the character and the waythey are dress differently allows viewers to differentiate between them. Theyalso help to distinguish what era a film sequence is meant to be from. In the scene in the titanic where Rose DeWitt Bukater andJack Dawson are drowning we can see that clearly that they both have beenthrough a struggle. Rose DeWitt Bukater is wearing a Jack Dawson et that wasput on her by Caledon Hockley. Jack was in his usual dull coloured shirt andpants with his iconic suspenders. In this scene it wasn’t just the clothes thatadded to the scene, it was the make-up. Rose’s lips were coloured blue and sowere Jack’s, they were both covered in frost that gave us the impression ofthem slowly freezing to death.
This really gave viewers a realism approach, sothey can really see in the frame shot how much they were both suffering, alongsidethe low-key lighting. The mise-en-scene used in this film sequence to portraythe narrative to the viewers really was enough to pull off a convincingperformance. (Back Benchers , 2017)Acting One of main things in mise-en-scene is an actor’s performanceitself, the way the actor delivers the performance on screen can bind all ofthe movie together. When a shot is being taken it is the actors duty to bringthat particular character to life because if the actor does not pull of aconvincing performance, the realism aspect of the story is then taken away (ifthat is what is meant to be portrayed). The emotions that an actor shows whilstin shot must engage the audience. There also two methods that used in moderncinema in this era, these two types are naturalistic and stylized. When anactor is taking up the role of a character then it becomes their responsibilityto become one with the characters, dressing, personality and basically all oftheir characteristics that this character may possess (this is when a characteris using the naturalistic approach).
However, the opposite of this is stylized actingwhich is more of an evident approach which is used to get what the directorwants to portray across. The main purpose of stylized acting is to overdramatize the acting in order to portray a comical effect to the film sequence.Within this scene in the titanic the acting skills of LeonardoDiCaprio as Jack Dawson and Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater were veryconvincing. Throughout the movie itself the chemistry between the twocharacters had been incredible. When Rose was laying down on top of the door,and she was desperately trying to wake Jack up after he died we could almostsee the desperation on her face to try to wake him up. When Jack let Rose climbup on the door instead of himself we really got a sense of the character’spersonality and how much he cared for Rose. The acting in this scene was verymoving and the way it was shot with close up’s and the different angles createsmore of the atmosphere.
In this scene we see many close ups and in thebackground, we can see the dead bodies of those who had frozen in the ocean,this really adds to the scene, so the viewers can see the severity of thecoldness in the water. The mise-en-scene in this scene are mainly the actorsand the makeup and costumes that pull of a realistic performance. (reblogger, 2013)SummaryIn this essay I have talked about the use of Mise-en-scenein the narrative sequence from the movie titanic.
We can see that there wereclear uses of setting, lighting, costumes and acting in this film. All of thesewere used to the full potential in the movie. With the many different cameratechniques and the high use of low-key lighting to the actors pulling of aconvincing performance within each shot.
We can clearly see that themise-en-scene has been used to a full potential to convey the narrative in thisscene. We have a clear understanding of what mise-en-scene and why it plays animportant part in conveying narrative to an audience. Mise-en-scene isn’tnormally a term that directors use on set however when doing analysis, thetechnical term for everything within a camera frame or shot is classed as themise-en-scene.
I feel like that with this movie we can see the many differenttechniques and skills that the director has used to create the atmosphere fordelivering a realistic narrative. I have gone through the many different waysthe mise-en-scene helped create an atmosphere and deliver and convincing and realistperformance within the movie. Overall this essay shows the many differentskills the director uses to make a scene realistic. The way the narrative isprojected to viewers really is because the mise-en-scene is in front of the camera.
Overall mise-en-scene is really important when conveying narrative such as this.