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Mise-en-scene is the language of films

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 877 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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It is vital to understand the meaning of Mise-en-scene before describing it in any movie. Mise-en-scene is basically a French word, which in English means; putting into the scene. In short, Mise-en-scene is the language of films through which the viewer is able to gather and extract relative information. It helps in showing the viewer, about what is going on in the film, the motives, and most importantly it helps conveying the film maker’s message.

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Tim Burton however, has a very distinctive style in filmmaking, considering the use of various elements of Mise-en-scene in almost all of his films, especially Edward Scissorhands in 1990. Tim Burton has his own imagination of good and bad people, which have nothing to do with appearance, for him they could be very misleading. In Edward scissor hands, after looking at Edward one can easily mistake it with a horror film and that Edward is some cold blooded monster, just because of his leather garments and his scissor hands, his appearance is deceiving. Behind the clothes, the pale face full of cuts, long sharp scissors and messy hair, there is a child with genuine goodness who can be trusted.

Jhonny Depp, who played the character of Edward in Edward Scissorhands, has remarkably carried out the roll, just as Tim Burton would have wanted him to. Due to his acting skills, the viewers were able to sympathize with the character. His expressions showed the viewers how innocent and well mannered Edward was. Behind that horrible attire there laid a heart, which needed some love and care. Whereas, Tim Burton, in order to give the audience the right idea of the main character, other than the acting skills, costume and make up, has competently used the camera angles, lighting etc.

But that completely depends on the role that has been chosen for the actors. For instance, in Sweeny Todd, again Jhonny Depp, who played the role of Sweeny Todd himself, was white, pale and lacked a lot of sunlight. Other than sunlight, just after one glimpse anyone could easily tell that he is deprived of life and something terrible has had happened with him. In this movie, he lived up to his getup; He looked evil, and he was evil. The way Tim Burton makes Jhonny Depp dress up, wear his costume, and the makeup itself is Mise-en-scene, which is very either fascinating or unexpected. It is always a mystery after looking at the character, what the movie would be about or what role would the actor be playing. When it comes to manipulating the audience’s attention, Tim Burton is always one step ahead.

Furthermore, Tim Burton usually uses contrasting colors. Colors also play a high role in his Mise-en-scene which he easily uses for manipulation. For example, in Edward Scissor hands, the mansion where Edward lives and the mountain on which the mansion is are set in a dark grey shade with black clouds above, which strongly contrasts to the pastel colors of the suburb below. This is also seen in the dress code of the people. Edward wears black leather clothes and even later he dresses up in black and white while the others dress up in soft pastels and look too colorful. Since black is denoted for evil, at first glance the viewers mistake Edward for being evil, his Scissorhands complimenting his image. If Edward was dressed up in pastel colors too, the image would have never been able to be achieved.

The manipulating part comes in, like already mentioned the suburbs were of pastel colors and so were the people, which are very harmless colors yet the people living in there were more malevolent than the black and white, monster like looking Edward with his terrifying scissor hands. The colorful people kept on taking advantage of Edward and as soon as they had enough of him, the abandoned him. Moreover, the contrast between residents of the suburb and Edward is maintained throughout the movie, denoting every time no matter what Edward does, he shall always remain an outsider.

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Similarly in Sleepy Hollow, again the colors have enhanced the mood of the film, straight away hinting the viewers what kind of a movie it would be. Tim Burton was able to keep his audiences engaged by the way he was able to create dramatic effects by desaturated colors, using dark colors with splashes of grey, red, white and other bold colors. Which immediately felt oppressive and created a feeling of tension and anyone could tell that the movie is going to be quite unpleasant.

In the film, the town of Sleepy Hollow is shown gloomy, dark and lifeless. Even the colors of trees and the landscapes are shown in a cool grey color. That represented the people living there, and how they were feeling with the mishaps going on in their hometown. In fact, the clothes worn by many people in the town are also oppressive and dark except for the Van Tassel family, who rather believed in wearing refined and elegant clothes. The eye- catching part were the clothes Katrina always wore, mostly bright colors perhaps, reflecting her youth and innocence which could not be seen anywhere else in the town. I believe by using bright colors on Katrina and using contrasting backgrounds against her, Tim Burton was able to catch the viewer’s interest.


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