Analysis of the Use of Mise-En-Scene in "Rebel Without a Cause"

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Mise-en-scène in Filmmaking

Mise-en-scène is an important element in filmmaking. The term refers to the arrangement of all things such as setting, costume and makeup, lighting, and the movement and expressions of actors that can be seen in a frame (Lathrop and Sutton 1).

The Role of Mise-en-scène in Shaping Audience Expectations

The elements that appear within a shot play an important role in shaping the expectations of the audience and drawing their attention to specific factors that advance the storyline of a film. They also clarify and emphasize meanings and influence how the audience responds emotionally to a film (Thompson and Smith 45).

Analyzing Mise-en-scène in the Film "Rebel without a Cause"

This paper analyzes the use of mise-en-scène as a filmographic technique in the film "Rebel without a Cause". The essay analyzes two shots to determine how various elements that appear within these shots shape the expectations of the audience and influence their emotional response to the film.

The First Shot

There are four characters that appear in this shot. The lady in a red coat is looking at her phone while holding a handkerchief in her right hand. She appears to be wiping tears from her eyes and seems unhappy and in distress. The appearance of the lady within this particular shot immediately drives the audience to sympathize with her. Even without understanding the events that led to her current state, the audience views her as a victim because she seems to have been wronged. Her facial expression further shows that she is dealing with something troubling at the moment. Whatever her issues are, the audience cannot help but sympathize with her.

The other character in the shot is a teen who seems to have been involved in some mischief or gotten into trouble. His expression creates the impression that he would rather be anywhere else than the room in which he currently sits. The character appears troubled and deep in thought as if his life is complicated. The focus of the camera on his face is meant to enable the audience to see his expression and analyze his emotions. The demeanor of the character shapes the attitude of the audience towards him. Based on his appearance in this frame, the audience is likely to empathize with him. He also appears cold because of the manner in which he wraps his arms around himself. The man standing next to him seems to be offering him a coat to help him overcome the effects of the cold. He does not seem to be interested. The appearance of the character creates the impression that he is a troubled teen that requires help. Instead of hating the character, the audience is likely to strive to understand him.

Another character in the frame is the lady who seems to be wearing a robe. Her expression and positioning show that she cares about the teen. The audience can deduce that she is probably close to the teenager and understands him better than anyone else. She stands next to him in a protective manner because she knows that he is going through a difficult time. The appearance of the lady in the frame is likely to earn her admiration from the audience. Her skin color is also something of note. She is black while the boy is white, an indication that she is probably not his biological mother. Her affection towards the teen is, therefore, likely to earn her admiration from the audience.

Lighting is also an important element in the frame. The low-key lighting shows that the scene is defined by unpleasant exchanges and trouble. The gloomy nature of the scene further creates the impression that nothing good can be going on in the room.

The setting also shows that the characters are gathered in an office. The partitioning of the space and posters on the walls show that the characters are probably in a police station, further shaping the expectation of the audience in the film.

The Second Shot

The frame has three characters of a lady, an elderly man, and a boy. The expression on the face of the boy shows that he is happy. The audience can deduce that he is excited to be in the presence of the elderly man. He also seems to be sitting on the man's lap, an indication that they are affectionate with each other. The camera does not focus on the expression of the man but the audience can assume that he is also happy based on the reaction from the boy. The camera also focuses on the expression on the face of the lady. She seems to be smiling but her eyes appear dull, an indication that she is not genuinely happy. Her hands are on the shoulders of the man yet all of his attention is directed towards the child. Her expression creates the perception that she is craving attention and affection, things that she does not currently have.

Costume is also an important element that the frame focuses on. The characters in the frame appear to be wealthy based on how well they are dressed. The lady is immaculately dressed as is the boy and the man. The audience can make these deductions even without watching the entire film because the costumes provide insights into the social status of the characters. The background setting also shows that the characters are wealthy. The wall hangings and the carvings on the table are collections that are mainly made by the rich. The presence of a lamp light that has been switched on also creates intimacy and offers insights into the time during which the scene takes place.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the arrangement of all things such as setting, costume and makeup, lighting, and the movement and expressions of actors in the two frames shape the expectations of the audience and draw their attention to specific factors that advance the storyline of the film. They also clarify and emphasize meanings and influence how the audience responds emotionally to the film. The paper shows that mise-en-scène analysis of the two frames can be used to understand certain aspects of the film even without watching the entire clip.

Works Cited

Lathrop, Gail, and David O. Sutton. "Elements of mise-en-scene." Retrieved on January 3 (2014).

Thompson, Kristin, and Jeff Smith. Film Art: an introduction. McGraw-Hill Education, 2017.

September 25, 2023
Category:

Entertainment

Subcategory:

Movies

Subject area:

Film Analysis

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