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Film: In the Mouth of Madness

Pick a scene, sequence, or shot(s) in In the Mouth of Madness and analyze it regarding the use of mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, sound, and/or narrative. Your response should be between 300-500 words and should include minimal plot summary. Assume that your reader has seen the film but please do set up specific scenes with a sentence or two if you plan on discussing them in depth. It’s often helpful to focus on a specific scene or shot for careful detailed analysis as a means of supporting a larger claim. Please be sure to proofread, use specific terms from lectures/readings when relevant, and review the included rubric!

You have the freedom to use any of the material from the course in your analysis, you are only required to use 2 terms in total, from any of the lectures.(from week1 – week4)

I encourage you to analyze a scene that interests you, or to break down how a particular sequence made you feel a certain way. If you found a particular sequence scary, for example, break down what the film is doing formally to elicit that response from you.10 attachmentsSlide 1 of 10

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1 What is Mise-en-Scene? Part 1 The first formal aspect of the cinema we’ll be discussing is mise-en-scene. What is mise-en-scene? It is one of the most self-evident aspects of any given frame of film, which of course also makes it one of the most confusing. A French term borrowed from the theater, which literally translates to “placed on the scene,” Mise-en-scene refers to all of the elements placed in front of the camera to be photographed. When we talk about a film’s mise-en-scene, we’re describing the characteristics of the film’s setting, costume and makeup, staging and performance, and lighting. Each of these characteristics can be discussed separately but all are part of a film’s overall mise-en-scene. We’ll be discussing the intricacies of lighting in film in the next lecture. It might be tempting, at first, to only notice a film’s mise-en-scene when it is particularly stylized or exaggerated, as in Dario Argento’s Suspiria, or Seijun Suzuki’s Tokyo Drifter, or the films of popular directors such as Tim Burton or Wes Anderson. But mise-en-scene, no matter how banal or aestheticized, is always doing something in the frame. To some degree or another, we’re always talking about mise-en-scene when we analyze film. When we start discussing cinematography and editing in the following weeks, we’ll discuss those aspects of film form in relation to the appearance of the mise-en-scene. A film’s overall mise-en-scene is most likely what we are most conscious of when we watch uncritically, though we are likely primarily conscious of the overall emotional and intellectual effect of the mise-en-scene: what we must learn to do is to self-consciously break down what we are seeing and articulate how that emotional and intellectual effect is achieved. Let’s start with a relatively simple comparative analysis: how does the exaggerated mise-en-scene of Tokyo Drifter and the more realistic mise-en-scene of Michael Mann’s Heat change how we experience the same event: a shootout? As you’re watching these two scenes, make note of how setting—or where the scene takes place including the objects in that location—lighting, costume and makeup, and staging and performance—or how 2 the actors move, where they’re positioned, etc.—work in concert to create two very different spectatorial experiences. TOKYO DRIFTER SCENE HEAT SCENE Were we to describe both of these scenes in the vaguest possible terms, we would say that they’re both about the same thing: men in suits (or, mostly in suits) shooting at each other. However, it’s immediately clear that these are two very different kinds of scenes with different emotional and aesthetic effects: Heat is intense and realistic, while Toyko Drifter treats its climactic battle as a pop art dance. Now, we could discuss the differences between these two scenes in terms of angles and distances of framing, cutting rates, and sound, but let’s focus specifically on mise-en-scene, beginning with setting. First, we may notice that the shootout in Heat is shot on location, (specifically on South Figueroa street in Los Angeles), while Tokyo Drifter’s climactic standoff is filmed in a studio location, in a bar and restaurant with a shockingly barren, sparsely furnished floor, consisting of only a few choice pieces of set dressing:: a piano, a single table, a staircase, a few doorways leading in and out of the room, and some columns and sculpture. South Figueroa street, on the other hand, appears as we might anticipate it would in real life:

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