Essential Mise En Scene Elements in Jordan Peele's Get Out

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is a 2017 horror film directed by Jordan Peele and highlights Chris, a young Black man who finds himself in a terrifying situation in the hands of his White girlfriend, Rose’s family with disturbing dark characters. Jordan Peele’s film conveys a central message of oppression of Black people and systematic racism through themes like modern slavery, societal horror, racial profiling and miscegenation anxieties. The film is well scripted and showcases these messages via the essential mise en scene elements that are appropriately used. In regards to cinematography, Get Out is impressively captures emotions and situations to portray tension, funny expressions and comedy and even immense thrills while conveying its prime message about the themes mentioned above. Through various creative applications of cinematographic techniques and characterization, the director successful delivers on the message of African American oppression and racism (Emily, 2017).

            . Through the appropriate employment of the essential mise en scene elements, Jordan Peele lays out a perfect mix of suspense and horror.  In the film, modern slavery is one of the prominent central themes portrayed. The black characters in the film all seem to be serving their superiors, the whites.  On keen observation, Logan seems not only to be the husband to the Caucasian woman but more of his servant, this can be denoted when Logan says he has not got the pleasure to be outdoors as he is busy with chores indoors. (Paul, 2015) This kind of slavery can be termed as modern slavery where the servants are hypnotized by the white to attend to them without alternatives, and they are made to forget who they really are by being brainwashed.

              There are strong indications of the horrific atmosphere. In the entire film, Chris feels strange being surrounded by white people that all seem evil. The white visitors make Chris feel uncomfortable as they are always examining his physique and skin complexion. The White guests at the party held in this film are overtly and covertly racists, they examine Chris’ body and complexion while making statements that cause discomfort to Chris. The theme of racial profiling is vividly illustrated where Chris is asked about his take regarding being black in the modern world. Also, the police officer who pulls over Rose and Chris on their way to Rose’s home unfairly profiles Chris. The officer even demands Chris’ driving license yet he was not the one driving just because he is black. Miscegenation anxieties are evident in Chris’ reaction throughout the film.

            Setting in filming is the elements that are within the frame that function to show the place (location), time (period) and space (Ciara, 2017). Both time and place settings are used to capture the theme of societal horror. For instance in this scene of Get Out the location appears to be in a homestead setting, the home is found in rural area presumably due to lack of urban dynamics. Dean and Missy's house seems to be somewhere close to the woods (a place that is associated with horrific atmosphere in filming). The place also is very silent earning itself another reason to be considered up-country. The area seems to have a limited population from the lack of building (neighbors) the time setting of the scene is the current era.

               Décor is the other essential element in filming according to mise-en-scene.  It is a production kind of design within the setting — the objects contained in the set amount to décor. Décor is meant to amplify the dominant mood in a film or even the character’s emotion. (Kelli, 2018) Color is an aspect of décor that can be used to portray deep meaning and expressions.  From a keen observation, the scenes in the film Get Out to use a lot of shades of grey that is associated with lack clarity and uncertainty. On the contrary Brown, a color that psychologically creates a familiar warm condition/scenario is also used in this scene. The uncertainty is later proved to be right in other scenes after the one discussed here. The color palette, the entire range of colors capable of being displayed an interface (electronic) is used to achieve décor in various aspects.

               Acting, an element of mise en scene, is marked by the figure movements and expressions. It is the physical performance a character showcases in a film. It entails expressions, actions and gestures. Acting has been used to convey the theme of racial profiling. The major function of stage performance (commonly known as acting) is to communicate and express feelings and thoughts. For instance, the manner in which Logan behaves in this scene, where he becomes agitated by Chris’ action, nose bleeds and pushes him holding him by the collar communicate his feeling. To some extent, one can tell Logan did not have an actual seizure, but in reality, he seems to be stage performing to warn Chris. Chris’ action of attempting to take a picture of Logan discreetly would land the former into problems, and that is why Logan is shouting to him to ‘Get Out ’ because this place is not what it appears to be demonstrating miscegenation anxieties.

            Lighting, a key aspect in cinematography is yet another element of mise-en-scene that vital in filming. The film uses both kinds of contrasts, particularly this scene use lighting that is high-key, low contrast. (Timothy and Patricia, 2004)  This scene makes use of low contrast lighting because it does depict the warm feeling of togetherness and warmness in the party. All the colors in this scene appear to be less concentrated as compared to some other scenes. The surrounding appears faded, this sort of lighting is employed where the intended expression is calmness, peace, lovely atmosphere and the like. In the scene analyzed in this text, everything appears to be bright with little or no shadow at all. Lighting has been used to achieve moods and themes like societal horror.

             Costumes are important in communicating a specific message to the audience what a character wears plus the manner in which it arranged can tell a lot about them. (Racquel, 2017) Logan, a black man, married to a Caucasian woman who is older than him, is dressed in a manner suggesting he is trying to match his wife’s age who appears to be senior to him. Logan is dressed in a brown blazer and hat made of sisal contrary to his presumed age mate Chris. This tells the audience that Logan due to being married to someone with a vast age gap he uses his dressing to bridge the gap. Clearly, modern slavery is depicted via how Logan is made to feel superior like the white but lacks freedom as he is always indoors doing chores


Ciara Ward low (2017) ‘A Conversation with DP Toby Oliver on Crafting The Look of Get Out ,’ Film School Rejects (14 March) (last accessed 11 July 2018).

Cinematography,’ The Film Experience: An Introduction New York: St Martins, 75-109.

David Bordwell, Kristin Thompson and Jeff Smith (2016) ‘The Mobile Frame,’ Film Art: an Introduction, 11th Edition, New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 194-213.

Emily Bourke (2017). ‘Get Out ,’ The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, 16 (Autumn): 180-183. 

John Gibbs and Douglas Pye (2017) ‘Introduction: The Long Take – Critical Approaches,’ in John Gibbs and Douglas Pye (eds.) The Long Take, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 1-26.

Kelli Weston (2018) ‘That Sinking Feeling,’ Sight and Sound. 28.1, (January) 37-39.

Paul Schrader (2015) ‘Game Changers: Camera Movement,’ Film Comment, 51. 2,

(March/April) (last accessed 12 September 2018)

Racquel Gates (2017) ‘The Last Shall be First: Aesthetics and Politics in Black Film and Media,’ Film Quarterly, 71.2 (Winter): 38-45.

Rizvana Bradley (2017) ‘Vestiges of Motherhood in Recent Black Cinema,’ Film Quarterly, 71.2, (Winter): 46-52.

Timothy Corrigan and Patricia White (2004) ‘Seeing Through the Image

September 25, 2023




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