Inthis essay I will be talking about the use of mise-en-scène to convey narrativein a film sequence from the movie titanic, directed by James Cameron.
“Anarrative is a story that you write or tell to someone, usually in greatdetail. A narrative can be a work of poetry or prose, or even song, theater, ordance.” (Vocublary.com, 2018) Mise-en-sceneis the terminology used for the arrangement of everything within a frame, suchas setting, lighting, actors, body language, props, costumes and staging. Theterm mise-en-scene itself is a French word, which means ‘The arrangement of thescenery (oxford dictionary, 2018)’. Another part ofMise-en-scene is considering the way a film sequence is shot, so things likethe framework and camera angles are also apart of this. David A.
C. writes inhis book a History of Narrative film that Mise-en-scene is made up the thingsthat actually “within the shot itself as opposed to the effects created bycutting”, so basically, he is trying to say here that everything that you film,and that is physically there in front of the camera, then that ismise-en-scene. (A.C., 2004). Thescene that I am going to look at in this essay is from the movie titanic and itis one of last sequences when Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater sink into theocean and Rose DeWitt Bukater climbs on to a door, which is unable to hold bothof them. (Screener, 2016) Setting Whentalking about setting’s we are normally looking at things like costume, make-up, lighting and staging.
The setting createsthe sense of the mood of the scene and gives an atmosphere to it, it can alsogive us a sense of the characters emotions. Settings when making a film is amain part the mise-en-scene. The setting can be both a fictional ornon-fictional set. The sets that get used in a film all contribute to showingthe realism and atmosphere. The term realism is what people who watch the filmsequence say when the film sequence creates and truthful picture of a society,or a character or whatever aspect of real life that the movie is trying toportray. When viewers talk about realism is can relate to the psychological oremotional accuracy in the characters, viewers want to see recognizable orlogical actions and developments in a story line, they basically want to seesomething convincing and relatable. If we look at the setting of the scene above, we cansee that it is dark lighting and the costumes of Rose DeWitt Bukater and JackDawson have been covered with ice to show us that they are freezing to death.
RoseDeWitt Bukater is laying down on top of the door out of the water and JackDawson is nearly fully submerged into the water. This shows us how chivalrous JackDawson is by giving Rose DeWitt Bukater the opportunity to climb up on the doorinstead of himself. Both Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater are filmed in thesame shot together, so we can see both the character’s and their situations. Theway that this scene is portrayed really goes into the aspect of realism, eventhough the scene itself was shot in a studio, the way it was portrayed andacted, it looked real. With the lighting in the studio, to Rose DeWitt Bukaterand Jack Dawson being covered in white frost and blue lips to show theimpression that they really were freezing to death. This really helped thedevelopment of the storyline and it was convincing, with all the mise-en-scenethat was in front of the camera whilst it was being shot in the studio, it reallyled to a really convincing performance on screen. The viewers really got toview what could have been a reality, with the dead frozen bodies around them inthe ocean, it looked like a convincing act.
(Facebook, 2016) Lighting Lighting has one of most important thing when making a filmto show emotion within the film. The director of a movie must make that thelighting is matching what atmosphere they are trying to portray. When making afilm a director uses two types of lighting approaches, low-key lighting andhigh-key lighting. High key lighting is mostly seen in movies like comedies,romantic movies and musicals.
With high key lighting a director trying to avoidany dark areas in the frame, the director wants to make sure that everythinglooks bright, trying hard to make sure there are no shadows. The high-keylighting has an effect of its own. Low-key lighting is usually used in moviessuch as thrillers and horror movies. The lighting pattern that is used withthis type of lighting that has both bright and dark areas in the frame. Thisadds to the eerie atmosphere that these movies are trying to create.
During this scene in the titanic, we can clearly see thatmost of the scene we can see the use of low-key lighting in order portray deathand to really show what has happened when the titanic sank. The movies directorused both high-key and low-key lighting whilst filming to show the contrast ofeverything when the titanic started to sink. We can clearly see that becausethe ship is meant to be in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and this is meantto be late at night, so the lighting is very dark around the titanic. Thelighting that is used whilst filming the scenes in titanic really show us thecontrast throughout the movie it attracts viewers when we physically see thedifference in the scenes with the low-key lighting and high-key lightingcontrast. (national geographic , 2018)CostumeCostume is really big part of mise-en-scene because it iswhat the characters are wearing within the frame.
Make-up is another massivepart of costume as it adds to the realism that is being portrayed. Costumesalso give a sort insight to the viewer of a character’s personality or statusin society. Actors can wear costumes that range from fashionable suits anddresses, (which would portray on upper class characters) to wearing more normaldull coloured clothing, or clothes that are a bit ripped in places (this wouldportray lower class characters). Make-up is another thing is important when itcomes to costumes, the way make-up is applied to an actor’s face and body andthe way they may sometimes alter a person’s face to look disfigured reallycontributes towards what the character may be like and what the story might be.
In the scene in the titanic where Rose DeWitt Bukater andJack Dawson are drowning we can see that clearly that they both have beenthrough a struggle. Rose DeWitt Bukater is wearing a Jack Dawson et that wasput on her by Caledon Hockley. Jack was in his usual dull coloured shirt andpants with his iconic suspenders. In this scene it wasn’t just the clothes thatadded to the scene, it was the make-up. Rose’s lips were coloured blue and so wereJack’s, they were both covered in frost that gave us the impression of themslowly freezing to death. This really gave viewers a realism approach, so theycan really see in the frame shot how much they were both suffering, alongsidethe low-key lighting.
The mise-en-scene used in this film sequence to portraythe narrative to the viewers really was enough to pull off a convincingperformance. (Back Benchers , 2017)Acting One of main things in mise-en-scene is an actor’sperformance itself, the way the actor delivers the performance on screen canbind all of the movie together. When a shot is being taken it is the actorsduty to bring that particular character to life because if the actor does notpull of a convincing performance, the realism aspect of the story is then takenaway (if that is what is meant to be portrayed). The emotions that an actorshows whilst in shot must engage the audience. There also two methods that usedin modern cinema in this era, these two types are naturalistic and stylized.When an actor is taking up the role of a character then it becomes theirresponsibility to become one with the characters, dressing, personality andbasically all of their characteristics that this character may possess (this iswhen a character is using the naturalistic approach). However, the opposite ofthis is stylized acting which is more of an evident approach which is used toget what the director wants to portray across.
The main purpose of stylizedacting is to over dramatize the acting in order to portray a comical effect tothe film sequence. Within this scene in the titanic the acting skills of LeonardoDiCaprio as Jack Dawson and Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater were veryconvincing. Throughout the movie itself the chemistry between the twocharacters had been incredible.
When Rose was laying down on top of the door,and she was desperately trying to wake Jack up after he died we could almostsee the desperation on her face to try to wake him up. When Jack let Rose climbup on the door instead of himself we really got a sense of the character’spersonality and how much he cared for Rose. The acting in this scene was verymoving and the way it was shot with close up’s and the different angles createsmore of the atmosphere.
In this scene we see many close ups and in thebackground, we can see the dead bodies of those who had frozen in the ocean,this really adds to the scene, so the viewers can see the severity of thecoldness in the water. The mise-en-scene in this scene are mainly the actorsand the make up and costumes that pull of a realistic performance. (reblogger, 2013)SummaryIn this essay I have talked about the use of Mise-en-scenein the narrative sequence from the movie titanic. We can see that there wereclear uses of setting, lighting, costumes and acting in this film.
All of thesewere used to the full potential in the movie. With the many different cameratechniques and the high use of low-key lighting to the actors pulling of aconvincing performance within each shot. We can clearly see that themise-en-scene has been used to a full potential to convey the narrative in thisscene. We have a clear understanding of what mise-en-scene and why it plays animportant part in conveying narrative to an audience.
Mise-en-scene isn’tnormally a term that directors use on set however when doing analysis, thetechnical term for everything within a camera frame or shot is classed as themise-en-scene. I have gone through the many different ways the mise-en-scenehelped create an atmosphere and deliver and convincing and realist performancewithin the movie.