Topics for M 10/28

Here are points of discussion about Zodiac for M. Feel free to suggest other topics and to start the conversation in comments.

  • Use of sound, especially music, and how those choices affect our reading of mise-en-scène.
  • Use of lighting.
  • The choice to keep the killer out of frame or obscured in the m-e-s.
  • Parallels between the police, Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and Armstrong (Anthony Ewards), and the journalists, Avery (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhall), investigating the killer.
  • The use of setting to show character, e.g., Leigh Allen's (John Carroll Lynch) trailer and Paul Avery's houseboat.
  • The effects of casting choices, especially for the actors playing the suspected or implied killer. Carroll Lynch and Bob Vaughn (Charles Fleischer). How do these choices play on stereotypes people may have about what a serial killer like the Zodiac would look like?


Topics for M 10/21

Here are some topics for our discussion of Goodfellas on M. Feel free to start the conversation in comments or to suggest additional points for discussion.

  • The characters as demonstrations of marginality and marginalization as contingent and relative depending on context and the kinds of relationships someone has with other people.
  • The use of sound in the movie and how it affects our interpretation of m-e-s, especially the voiceovers and music choices.
  • The use of freeze frames.
  • The camera as a "character" in the film.
  • Violence as part of m-e-s.
  • M-e-s and "the life."

Twelve Monkeys: repetition

One theme in the Post-Film Writing this week is the use of repeating elements between times and places, not only visually, but also with sound,  in Twelve Monkeys, particularly to raise questions about Cole's perception of reality. What kind of repeating elements did you notice in the film? Which ones were most effective in making you doubt Cole's perceptions about himself and what he's doing? Which ones did you simply appreciate aesthetically or formally?


Formal Analysis of MOON

The task (which we will discuss in class on W 6/3):

  • Write an analysis identifying the following in relation to Moon:
    • The most notable or interesting uses of mise-en-scène.
    • The most notable or interesting uses of the camera.
    • The most notable interesting uses of sound as it relates to your reading of mise-en-scène.


  • I will look first at the precision and formality of your language. Be as specific and as technical as possible.
  • Note that you will be able to check the film out on DVD from Hamersly Library. You can also rent Moon in HD from Amazon.
  • I will also be looking at how clearly you explain your interpretation in visual terms. 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 four single-spaced pages is a reasonable guideline for length.


  • You should submit your assignment via Moodle by W 6/10 at 7:50 pm. Additional details on Moodle.
  • This assignment is worth ten (10) points.

Reflecting on sound

Thinking back on the films we have screened so far, which film makes the most distinctive use of sound, in whatever form? What have been the most powerful uses of sound: diegetic or non-diegetic? What role has sound played in shaping your interpretation of m-e-s? Are there instances where the absence of sound, or of a certain kind of sound, such as non-diegetic music, been significant? Are there characters whose voices have been critical to your response or reading of any of the films?

Sound and image in ETERNAL SUNSHINE

In the reading, Carol Veranllis describes Eternal Sunshine as, "a lattice of sound-image connections" (page 96) and argues that the soundtrack often, "drives the image" (page 114). What did you notice about the relationship between sound and image in the film? How important do you think that music and sound is to how you understand m-e-s here? Which audio and visual combinations or motifs seem most important?

Sound and mise-en-scene

Two of the readings on Days Of Heaven, chapters 8 and 9, discuss the importance of sound and music to the meaning of the images in the film. Do you agree? What seems especially powerful about the sound and music in this film as it relates to the interpretation of what you see?

One of the authors, Wierzbicki, goes so far as to argue that many of the heightened "noises [in Days of Heaven] are components of mise-en-scene, as functional as costumes, lighting and props" (page 115). What does it mean to think of sounds as being 'in the frame'? What, arguably, makes the 'noise' in Days of Heaven 'visible'?