Auteur theory
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Mise-en-scéne readings

Here are the readings on m-e-s I referenced in class:

Please note that these sources provide differing interpretations of mise-en-scéne, and that both are also distinct from the understanding I am presenting in class (remember that you will be able to link to those presentations from the Calendar).

*This presentation is based on Louis Giannetti, Understanding Movies (2007), chapter 2, 49-101, which is available at Hamersly Library.

Begin practicing analysis of mise-en-scéne in comments to this entry and with the following images from A Trip to the Moon and The Great Train Robbery:

Trip to the Moon at 9:28:


Great Train Robbery at 2:43:



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Josh Noble

In the second image (The Great Train Robbery) the Dominate is the center man with the bank bag. He catches the eye first because he contrasts the background and he occupies the center of the frame. This links to Character Placement as the most important character in the scene is often placed in the center. A Subsidiary Contrast would either be the other robbery to the left or the man on the ground. A case could be made for both but I would argue the man on the ground catches the eye more than the other robber. Being this scene was shot in a studio the lighting is High Key Lighting with excellent illumination in the center of the frame. The image has low density and depth, as the shot's focus is in the train car.

Hope Sneddon

In the second image my eye is drawn to the man with the bag as well. He is the dominant because he is not only in the center but the way he is standing suggests he is moving with a sense of urgency. Although the man on the floor is wearing a lighter color and that is what catches my attention, my eye is still drawn to him second. Making him the subsidiary contrast.

Lily Miller

The world that is created in this scene, from the Trip to the Moon, is extra-ordinary. The frame seems to be open, although set inside of a cave. One example is the wall of the cave that is behind the actors, in the middle ground, extends out of the frame. The idea of an extended world is also achieved with the cave opening in the background. With the light flooding in, it seem like there is more outside of the cave where the scene is taking place.

Amy Elder

The frame from a Trip to the Moon has a very obvious dominant feature, which is the opening in the ceiling that the characters are pointing and looking at. The camera angle is a low angle shot putting the opening in the ceiling in a dominant spot in the frame. There is a long shot proximity because you are able to see many details in the frame as well as see the actors in good detail. The actors and the mushrooms are subsidiary contrasts in this frame as my eyes go to them after noticing the opening in the ceiling.
This is a loose frame shot because the actors have room to move around. The actors are also positioned in a three quarter stance suggesting that the audience should be more interested in something else in the frame. It is easy to tell that this scene is about the characters discovering the opening and in the next scene they will possibly be going outside to explore.

Josh Noble

To me the dominate in the Trip to the Moon image is umbrella/mushroom. I felt like the characters were looking more towards that than the ceiling, but that's just my POV. I also felt like this image was very dense. Everything seems to be in focus, which gave the image a cluttered feel to me. But that aside I think the prop design for this film was well done, given it's age.

Michael Bayley

In the first image, the dominant is what the gentlemen are looking at, or the bright thing that has their eye. Lighting is hard to tell in the black and white setting, but I would have to say moderate to high lighting. The subsidary contrast for me is the mushroom plant that is overly large. The density of the frame shows quite everything around them, so it seems this is staged. The character proxemics have to be personal or intimate because you know they are friends figuring out this journey in the film and they just are not random strangers.

Karl Amspacher

In the second picture, the camera is pulled back, giving open space to the action. Open doors to the left and to the right give freedom to the characters, also slightly framing the shot. Moving scenery is visible outside the door on right, a rear-projection special effect.

Michael Bayley

In the second image, the dominant for me is the man with the bag. The lighting seems dimmer/darker than usual for a black and white film. They are on a train moving fast and also seems like it is later in the day from noticing the door opened on the train car towards the back right. The angle is eye-level to us. No color, black and white film. The density seems to be at full effect because there is not much else to show in the scene. Character placement is centered also with a man lying on the ground. The character proxemics is definitely public since the men are robbing and seem to beat the man on the ground. The shot proxemics is a little further than usual, its not close but then not far as well.

Anna Markee

The image for A Trip To The Moon I felt has a high contrast lighting. The bright beam of light shining into the cave and the bright puff of smoke in the middle of the scene are bright while the rest of the image is slightly shadowed and do not draw my eye at first glance. Because of this, I feel like the men in the picture are the subsidiary contrasts, since my eye is first drawn to the bright light and white puff of smoke. Also, I want to add that not being able to produce color in the making of this film was a great disadvantage. Filmmakers can now get creative with color, using it to create symbolism and show contrasting foils. I would like to see this film in color because I think it would add to the expressionism.

Lucas Ashland

This image from "The Trip to the Moon" is my favorite scene from the movie. The actors legs from about the ankle down are covered by mushrooms and foliage in the foreground to give the illusion of depth to scene. The lighting is high-contrast and complex which is appropriate since they appear to be in a cave of some sort which is supposedly being lit by the bright light source of the doorway of the cave in the background. I love how they are wearing the same outfits that they were wearing while they were on earth. The fact that they didn't need special suits or equipment (besides the umbrellas) made it seem like the moon is a very approachable and easily explored area. The inclusion of the gigantic mushrooms in this scene exemplify the quirkiness and imagination of the director, and it also captures the interest of the viewer making them excited about what mysteries and wonders the moon must be hiding.

Shaun Huston

I feel like maybe French should be a prereq for this course!

Steven Springer

The dominant visuals in the Great Train Robbery is the clothing contrast of the villains to the victim on the floor. They contrast not only with the clothing but the backdrop. They quickly grab the attention of the audience and the color contrast categorizes them as dark "bad guys."

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