Mise-en-scene: How meaning is made on the screen

Philosophy and film do not mix. This is the impression one has when one sounds out the literature in both fields. Therefore it is with some surprise that one reads that Ludwig Wittgenstein, the renowned Austrian philosopher, was an avid viewer of cowboy movies (Carver, 1995). However, even Wittgenstein did not say anything substantial about the relationship between film and meaning, a relationship which is critical to the understanding not only of film but also of meaning constitution itself and its relevant theories (Ruthrof, 2002).
To make light of meaning on screen, this essay shall consider how screen mediated meaning is achieved through'mise-en scene' on film and/or television.
'Mise-en-scene' is sometimes used as a straight-forward descriptive term but it is actually a concept, which is complicated, yet central to a developed understanding of film. This term is used in film studies in the discussion of visual style (Gibbs, 2002).
It is historically to do with directing plays and later became to do with film to express how the material in the frame is directed (imperica.com, 2002). To put it simply, it means staging an action. It refers to the décor, props, costumes, staging, location, lighting, camera movement, the actors, and so on (which shall later be discussed in detail). Basically, it refers to every visual detail noticeable on the screen, excluding only the actors' lines and the sound.
The concept of'mise-en-scene' has influenced the way filmmakers, on every level, create meaning. All these'mise-en-scene' details are highly scrutinised and thought about. Some of America's great acclaimed directors, like Stanley Kubrick or Orsen Welles, are literally "obsessed" with detail, in every aspect of the film (Mogel, 2000).
The logic to it is, when a filmmaker has a meaning to his/her movie, the details should be used to express that meaning throu…

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