Critical Studies

Mise En Scene

Mise en scene is a French term, which means to place on the stage. The four elements are: setting & props, costume & make up, lighting, and acting.

This blog is about mise en scene in the film The Artist (2011). The film is about a silent film star, George Valentine, and his relationship with Peppy, an actress. After he is fired, she helps him to achieve his dream of starring in a talking film.


The director uses the setting of a cinema and a busy crowd to make the audience feel curious what is going on. George’s name is in big lights. This sets the scene for him being a popular and well known actor. According to Bordwell and Thompson (2013) “Since the earliest day of cinema, critics and audiences have understood that setting plays a more active role in cinema than it usually does in the theater.” (p.115)


The director uses Peppy’s changes of fashionable outfits to make the audience feel that they are in 1927. He frequently changes her cloche hats to attract the audience’s attention. The use of hats in mise en scene can be shown in other films. Bordwell and Thompson (2013) comment “ When Hildy Johnson, in His Girl Friday, switches from her role of aspiring housewife to that of reporter, her hat changes as well- from a stylish number with a low – dipping brim to a more “masculine” hat with its brim pushed up, journalist – style.”(p.121)

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In The Artist, Peppy wears only natural and simple make up. This is so her face stands out and attracts the audience’s attention. According to Bordwell and Thompson (2013) “In Speed, Sandra Bullock’s eyeliner, shadow, and arched brows make her eyes vivid and give her an alert expression.” (p.123)



Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 08.48.33The director uses highlight and shadows to make the audience feel that this is a dark and menacing place. George is having electro shock treatment. Bordwell and Thompson (2013) state that “Lighting joins with setting in controlling our sense of a scene’s space.” (p.125)


artist8The director use body language styles from 1920s silent films to help the audience to feel that they are in this time. Peppy uses coquettish body language and the main actors make good use of facial expressions. According to Jill Nelmes (1996)“As with costume, there is a strong, coded element in the facial expressions and body positions held by performers.” (p.105)



  1. Bordwell, D., and Thompson K. (2013) Film Art An Introduction. 10th ed. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies.
  2. Nelmes, J. (1996) An Introduction to Film Studies. 2nd ed. London: Routhledge.



Cinematography is a word of Greek origin, which means the art of photography, and camerawork in filmmaking. The photographic aspects of the shots have four things: tonal range, film stock, speed of motion, and perspective.


This blog is about cinematography in the film Amelia (2001). The film is about a young woman; Amelia is a very curious and mischievous girl, in Paris, with her own sense of honesty. She decides to help those around her along the way and discovers love.


Jeunet used colours such as yellows, green and browns and these colours are used mostly to create warmth; this makes the audience think she is smiling and looking at them with a hint of something she is planning in her mind. Jeunet has used a shot in a similar style to Agnes Varda’s Vagabond, as Bordwell and Thompson, 2013, p.174, noted “as often happens with selective focus the main point of interest in this shot from Agnes Varda’s Vagabond is kept in focus”.


This image is sensitive to different colours and the main ones are green, yellow, red and black. According to Bordwell and Thompson, 2013, p.161 “some contemporary films emphasize deep, rich blacks and push towards a high contrast look”. The viewer’s eye is drawn to the red raspberries because she focuses on enjoying eating them from her fingers in certain order.


Jeunet used the camera to gain a close up on Amelie from below to make the audience look up at her, and feel sorry for her. This image suggests that she looks upset and worried about the fish. According to Nelmes, 1996, p.109, it is important to focus on “the faces of leading characters, and hence by implication to read their thoughts and feelings.”


Jeunet used the camera angle to get a close up of the fish. This image suggests that the fish looked at Amelie. It makes the audience feel upset and sad; they understand the fish and Amelie have been together since early childhood. According to Nelmes , 1996, p.109, “a low angle shot looking up to the object or a high- angle shot looking down.”


The perspective of Amelie created by the cinematography here is typically seen from a medium shot and sets up a move into a close up and tracking. This image makes the audience follow the track.

This image is called telephoto because the camera is close up and the main focus on little Ameie. According to Bordwell and Thompson (ibid:p.190), “it emphasizes facial expression, the details of a gesture, or a significant object.” It makes the audience wonder why she is so furious and why she wants to pull the plug. amelie-revengeHer hand with the plug is blurred. There is something wrong prior to this happening.




  1. Bordwell, D., and Thompson K. (2013) Film Art An Introduction. 10th ed. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies.
  2. Nelmes, J. (1996) An Introduction to Film Studies. 2nd ed. London: Routhledge.
  3. Evan Richards (2012) The Cinematography of Amelie (2001). [Online] EvanRichards. Available from:
  4. Roxy Radulescu (2014) Movie Magic: 4 Ways Your Colour Palette Can Transform Your Work. [OnlineThe Shutter stock Blog. Available from:

Film Editing

Film editing is the task of selecting and joining camera takes. The continuity editing has six elements, which are: eye line match, shot/reverse shot, matches on action, cross cutting, flashback/forward and the 180-degree rule.


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This blog is about film editing in the film The Birds (1963). The film is about the birds that attack and hurt people, as well as Mitch, and his relationship with Melanie, an actress. Melanie and Mitch try to protect people from the birds’ attack.


Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 16.52.24.pngFirst image: Hitchcock cut the scene of Melanie turning to the window. Then shows the next scene at the gas station. With the use of just two images it creates a strong contrast. According to Nelmes, 1996, p.110, “it was possible to create alternative readings of the same facial expression – or to bring together shots occurring in completely dferent locations.” Hitchcock wants to create the shot scene in two different places to make tScreen Shot 2016-01-06 at 16.52.43.pnghe audience feel curious about what is happening and make them feel interested in two different places.




Hitchcock used the camera to create the 180-degree system of two people in conversation, in two different camera shots, in the same place. Hitchcock used the camera to create a shot over Melanie’s shoulder in the car, favouring Mitch and a shot over Mitch’s shoulder, favouring Melanie in the car. According to Bordwell and Thompson, 2013, p.226, “Hitchcock makes the shots fairly short but subordinates the length of the shots to the rhythm of the dialogue and the movement in the images.” This makes it interesting to the audience, as it’s the same conversation from different perspectives.



Hitchcock created each shot in the scenes of Melanie and a trail of flames to make the audience feel fear because when Melanie’s facial expression shows fear and shock, it is in an attempt to make the audience feel scared and worried because the flames are heading to the gas station. According to Bordwell and Thompson, (ibid, p.225) “First, his cutting contrasts the movement of Melanie’s head with the trail of flames. The shots of the flame show movement of both the subject and the camera, while the shots of Melanie’s head are completely static.”

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Hitchcock took the establishing shot scene bird’s eye view. Bordwell and Thompson, (ibid, p.226) note that “an extreme long shot that lasts over 600 frames, functions as both a pause and a suspenseful preparation for new attack.” Hitchcock wants to create the scene from the sky to make the audience feel curious and wonder what will happen next and shows they are worried that the birds will fly over the gas station.


  1. Bordwell, D., and Thompson K. (2013) Film Art An Introduction. 10th ed. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies.
  2. Nelmes, J. (1996) An Introduction to Film Studies. 2nd ed. London: Routhledge.