The whole essay will be composed of three parts, an introduction, three bodies and a conclusion. For the introduction part, I will briefly introduce the basic plot of the movie Groundhog Day and its director, Harold Ramis. After that, I will explain the term mise en scene. Saying that this word first came from the French word ‘staging’ in a theatre, I will write this word as including everything which constitutes a film.
I will write that according to Bordwell, D & Thompson, K, largely there are set, costume(makeup), lighting and staging(movement and performance) in mise en scene. Then, I will raise the question of whether every mise en scene is intentional. In the body part, I will divide it into three paragraphs. In the first paragraph, I will focus on the figure’s expression and movement (performance). Here, according to Richard Dyer, figure movement includes every kind of movement from the action of the whole body to the movement of eyebrows, wrinkles and lips.
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Also, a figure means not only human beings but also other objects or animals. After defining the meaning of figure movement, I will analyze the movements in my self-chosen scene in the film. (which is from 17:40 to 23:40) I will analyze the scene in the following way. ‘When the scene starts from 17:40, the film shows the change of the clock from 5:59 to 6. This is not a part of acting but a figure movement that shows the change of the day. After the clock scene, we can observe the movement of the main character, Phil. He wakes up from the bed and hears the radio sound. We can tell from his frowned face that he thinks the radio channel is stupid because he thinks the channel is repeating the same tape.
But he felt something strange if the broadcast is continued and his face became suspicious. Then he looks out the window. Here we can see movements of people and cars outside going all ahead to the groundhog festival. This movement has a role of distinguishing the new day and repeated days because it is distinguishable with the last scene showing nobody outside the window.’ In this way, I will concretely analyze the movements, positions, postures and facial expressions of actors and objects in the chosen five-minute scene.
In the second paragraph, I will talk about the lighting in the film. Lighting is one of the important parts of the film. Though the film is taken in the daytime, lighting is compulsory to make the scene clearer and more dramatic. There are many kinds of lighting according to where the light is shone, such as frontal, side, back, etc. Also, according to the intensity of the light contrast, it could be divided into high and low-key lighting. Like this, I will briefly explain some sorts of important lighting. Because it is a Hollywood film, most of the lighting is composed of basic three-point lighting, which is the key light, fill light and backlight. Therefore, most of the scenes I chose to analyze are taken out in the fields; they used three-point lighting rather than natural lighting.
In the last body paragraph, I will briefly discuss the setting, props, costume and makeup portrayed in the film Groundhog Day from the self-chosen scene. Because the main point I should focus on is the figure expression, figure movement and lighting, I will shortly mention the other parts of the mise en scene in the film. For example, I will explain the meaning of the clothes Phil and Rita are wearing and the role of objects around the main character, such as coffee in the hotel’s lobby or a plash Phil continuously passes by.
In conclusion, I will sum up the main points I made in previous paragraphs and emphasize the role of mise-en-scene in the film. Also, I will conclude that as we can see from the clues above(movements, lighting and costume and so on), we can say that most of the mise en scene is intentionally planned.
- Andrew Dix(2008), Beginning film studies, Manchester and New York, Manchester University Press
- Bernard F. Dick(2002), Anatomy of Film, Boston and New York, Bedford/St.Martin’s
- Bordwell, D. & Thompson, K.,(2010)” The Shot: Mise-en-Scene” from Bordwell, D. & Thompson, K., Film art: an introduction pp.118-166, New York: McGraw-Hill©
- Speidel, Suzanne.,(2012)” Film form and narrative” from Nelmes, Jill.(ed), Introduction to film studies pp.79-112, Oxon: Routledge