Mise-en-scene is one of the most commonly used technique in film because it simply means “putting into the scene”, which covers most aspects of a project. Therefore, everything that a scene consists of makes up mise-en-scene which was first applied to the practice of directing stage plays (Film Art: An introduction, Bordwell & Thompson 2010.). Throughout the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004) the director’s control of what is being placed in the scene is clearly visible. All aspects of Mise-en-scene are covered in this film however three stand out the most. Through make-up, atmosphere and the actors’ performance, the director was able to portray a deep and thoughtful movie.
Make-up and character design plays a pivotal role in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. Through the careful control of hair colour of the character Clementine the director has been able to separate the film in three sections:
the past (orange)
The dream (red)
and the present (blue).
Without the change in character design the audience may have had problems following the movie as the characters jumped between time. This is a great example of how important it is to maintain scene continuity and by relating to Mise-en-scene this can be achieved.
Another key aspect of Mise-en-scene accentuated throughout this film, is the subtle change in atmosphere. By controlling the atmosphere very precisely in this film the director was able to create two distinct emotional senses. Through faint blue lighting during scenes of sorrow the director has protrayed a similar emotional reaction to the audience. This creates empathy for the protangonist, Joel, thus making the film a more immersive experience.
In juxtaposition to this is the scenes of fond memories, where the lighting is warm and has a subtle hint of yellow/orange. Once again this creates immersion but in the polar opposite to the scenes of sorrow.
Through the way in which both Jim Carrey (Joel) and Kate Winslet (Clementine) act and how it is “put into the scene” creates a fluid and dynamic narrative. The antics of Kate Winslet coupled with the monotonous way in which Joel reacts portray exaggerated aspects of personality. Through the way in which they converse the audience is enthralled and forced to follow the story of this couple who are dumped into a strange science-fiction world. By creating likable and relatable characters, the audience is able to be more involved in the actions of them, thus portraying Mise-en-scene’s role as a story telling as well as aesthetic technique.
To conclude, Mise-en-scene is one of the most important aspects of film and theatre, it is impossible to create a quality piece of work without precisely choosing the aspects of it. It is essential to be precise in choosing what to place in a scene as the audience will react differently depending on the stimuli they are provided with.
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The Cinephile Fix, (2012). Film Analysis: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. [online] Available at: https://cinephilefix.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/film-analysis-eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind/ [Accessed 28 May 2015].