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Lori Landay

Film Analysis
Literally "what has been put into the scene," mise-en-scne is a French term for how space is
organized and perceived in a film. It refers to what is put before the camera--everything that
happens within the frame, including the frame itself. Auteur criticism assumes that the
director has control over mise-en-scne. The elements that comprise mise-en-scne are:
lighting, frame composition, setting, relationship between foreground and background,
costumes, and the actors or objects photographed. What effects are achieved through the
kinds of focus, framing, and lighting chosen? How do costumes contribute to our
understanding of characters? Of setting? Of mood? How do body types and body language
contribute to a film's mise-en-scne?

How are camera angles, placement, and movement effective in conveying situations and
attitudes (of both the director and the characters)? Do close-ups predominate, or long-shots?
When, where, and how does the camera move? Is there smooth and floaty steadicam
technique, or the choppier movement of hand-held camera? What does the camera distance
let us see and what does it keep hidden? Why? What effects do the camera angles, distance,
and movement create? Do they call attention to themselves or do they fit into the "invisible
style" of classical Hollywood cinema?


Is the editing an example of continuity editing, the invisible editing style of Classical
Hollywood cinema? Or did the editing call attention to itself with interesting matched cuts,
romantic dissolves, cheezy wipes, dramatic fades, or startling jump cuts? How is time
compressed or lengthened? How does the editing within scenes, sequences, and acts create
tension and release? How are shots taken from different camera angles, distances, and
positions intercut? How are different locations, characters, or subplots connected through
editing? How about sound editing?


Is the sound diegetic or non-diegetic? Does the sound call attention to itself, or does it follow
Classical Hollywood conventions? What is the relationship between sound and image? Is
there contrapuntal sound? How would you characterize the sound mix? The score? What
does music contribute to the film experience? How does sound create or disrupt continuity?

How are the characters developed through camera treatment, costumes, gestures, and
dialogue? Since the characters are "bundles of traits" they can be described in terms of those
traits. The traits will be conveyed through how the characters look on screen, how they act,
what they say, and how they react to or interact with other characters and situations. What
traits do the characters have? How is this information/understanding conveyed?

How is the story told? Are any framing devices, such as flashbacks, used? Does the plot
move forward in a consistent chronology, or are there jumps forward or backward in time?
What pattern of development is used as the narrative moves from beginning to middle to
end? Are the cause-and-effect sequences logical, absurd, magical, ironic, or random? Are the
characters and actions credible? Are parallel characters, situations, or events used to help
organize the story? Is the film an example of Classical Hollywood Cinema, or does it deviate
from, parody, or revise those conventions? Is the plot structured to create suspense?
Character development? Action? Are there several subplots that are interwoven though
editing techniques like parallel action? Compare the first scene of the film with the last scene.
What has changed? What stays the same?

What ideas does the director endorse, defend, belittle, or satirize in the film? How does she or
he present his or her particular point of view? Consider characters, camera technique,
dialogue, music, story development--all of these are used to convey the underlying ideas of a


What visual or aural situations, pictorial details, words, effects, gestures, designs, or objects
are reiterated for the purpose of giving unity to the film and leading us to a greater
understanding of character, a theme, or the story structure?

Does the film fit into one of the major genres? What is the setting? The tone? Audiovisual
style? What stock characters are present in the film? Iconography? Plot? Resolution?
Themes and concerns? At what stage of the genre arc does this film occur (primitive,
classical, revisionist, parody)? Are there intertextual, intragenre meanings developed in the

Point of view (p.o.v.)

From whose (or what) point of view do we experience the film? Do we follow the action from
one or more points of view? How is point of view created and sustained through plot, miseen-scne, and sound? Are there subjective shots? Are we limited to what a character or
group of character experiences, or is there a more omniscient point of view? How are
external reality and internal reality related? How does sound establish point of view? Are
there techniques of expressionism or subjective distortions? What effect does point of view
have on our perception of the character or on what action we see?

Is the audience invited to put themselves in the place of the characters? To experience the
same emotions they do? Or to distance themselves from the characters? How does the
director accomplish this? Does the director appeal more to our emotions or to our intellect
through his or her presentation of the characters? What different theoretical issues arise from
thinking about audience (the group of people who see the film) and spectator (the individual
person)? Think about social, economic, historical, national, technological, psychological, and
political factors as well as aesthetic and cultural ones. How would you go about researching
how audiences respond to film? Or why and how spectators make meaning out of film?

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