Formal Analysis of THE RIGHT STUFF part 1

The task (which we will discuss in class on W 4/22):

  • Write an analysis of the lighting in each of the following scenes as represented by the selected frames from The Right Stuff. Your analysis should address the following points for each frame:
    • Can you tell where the light is coming from (above, below, right, left, front, back)?
    • Does the lighting seem more stylized or more naturalistic?
    • How and where is shadow used in the scene?
    • What role does lighting play in defining the dominant subject in the frame?
  • Key references are Spadoni, chapter 3, 78-82 and lecture and discussion from week 3 (see the Calendar).


  • I will look first at the precision and formality of your language. Be as specific and as technical as possible. I will expect to see gradual improvement on this point as the term goes on.
  • I will also be looking at how clearly you explain your interpretation. Being articulate is more important than being "right."
  • I will also be looking at how carefully your analysis is composed and edited and that you have addressed each of the required points for each image.
  • I think that two to three single-spaced pages is a reasonable guideline for length.


  • You should submit your assignment via Moodle by M 4/27 at 5:00 pm. Additional details on Moodle.
  • This assignment is worth five (5) points.

The images:

At 07:09:


At 105:59:


At 186:27:


Mise-en-scene references

This set of slides breaks mis-en-scene (m-e-s) into fifteen points. Note that some of these points - such as "shot and camera proxemics" and "lens/filter/stock" - are more commonly associated with analysis of the shot as a separate from m-e-s. In this course, these elements are treated as distinct but related to m-e-s: how the camera is used and outfitted necessarily affects how we see and experience what's in the frame.

This page at College Film & Media Studies provides a more streamlined perspective on the analysis of m-e-s. Two key points that are distinct from the resource in the first link are the inclusion of "setting" and "costume" and also "performance style." 

Chapter 3 in Spadoni, which we will discuss in week 3, takes a view closer to College Film & Media Studies than the view presented in the slides from the first link. The overarching theme in Spadoni is "stylization," or how filmmakers use the visual elements in the frame to create a distinct sense of space and place in a film.