Screen Studies : Mise-en-scène


Mise en scène incorporates the most recognizable attributes of a film – the setting and the actors; it includes costumes and make-up, props, and all the other natural and artificial details that characterize the spaces filmed.  The term is borrowed from a French theatrical expression, meaning roughly “put into the scene”.  In other words, mise-en-scène describes the stuff in the frame and the way it is shown and arranged.  We have organized this page according to four general areas: setting, lighting, costume and staging.

I was immediately struck by the symmetry of the shots and the beauty of the mise-en-scène. The film had a bright, cheerful aesthetic uncommon in the films I’ve seen.  Flamboyant colours are used predominately in this film through the film’s palette, or its painterly nature. Every color in this frame complements the others – even the backdrop has a purple hue to mimic the colors of the hotel. The magnificence of the Grand Budapest is made almost comical by the color scheme of pinks, purples, and blues. This ostentatious aura of the hotel is contrasted by the image of the hotel’s descent into hard times.

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With a great love of pastel tones, he installs these kinds of colours into almost every element of the scenery. This allows him a complete monopoly over the meaning and subtext of his films. It’s hard to imagine “The Grand Budapest Hotel” without seeing its sugary pink exterior. This is shown through this clip below:

Whether its subtle or in your face, Wes Anderson has made a living off of mise en scene. Anderson’s desire to experiment and play with what very few filmmakers are even able to comprehend is remarkable. By minimizing the movement of characters and props in the scene, he makes the audience focus on the positioning and blocking of his shots simultaneously with the action in the scene, making each frame more picturesque.  The shots in The Grand Budapest Hotel were the best part of the film, and are the signature of the Wes Anderson cinematic style.

His craft with storytelling also shine through as a strong point of the film, keeping the audience intrigued and guessing. The Grand Budapest Hotel presents a quirky, visually beautiful, plot twisting comedy that focuses on the story of a young lobby boy. Ultimately, a film’s mise-en-scène achieves not only the ability to express to an audience the mood, drama, and likely events of a scene or sequence, but its affecting intensity, its mode of feeling, and to invite the viewer to feel deeply too. This is the power and beauty of my favourite film phrase – mise-en-scène.





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