CS4 Blog 4 – Mise-En-Scene – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Pronounced Miz-on-sawn, I will always associate this term with the ancient movie “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” because it was the movie my lecturer made us sit through in order to understand the concept. Now, I am all for old movies: Pal Joey, No business like show business, The Sound of Music, all what I consider great classics, but anything before my 94 year old grandmother was born is a no for me. I know that movie is supposed to be a great classic and I’ll probably get a few gasps and side eyes from people, especially those from the Hollywood community when I say I HATED that movie. Painful to sit through and though oddly interesting, it was not very entertaining. It felt like a bad car crash, you don’t want to see it happen but you can’t look away.

The story within itself was actually quite poetic though if I might add, and the concept of mise-en-scene became very clear to me after watching the movie so I guess purpose served. But I need dialogue in my movies. I need dialogue and I need a clear picture and I need … anything from the 1940s and beyond.

Now that I’m done ranting, let me take a minute to explain exactly what Mise-En-Scene is. It’s a French term which means “put in the scene.” Basically it is everything (visually) outside of the story itself that adds to the story and makes it more real. Example: costume and makeup, cinematography (lighting, position of lighting, position of actors etc.), props and so on. When shooting a film, consider all these aspects in great detail and consider how they will add to the story you want to tell. If you require a much clearer picture I suggest you torture yourself with the movie as it does help to explain a few things. If not, there’s always good ole’ Google. 



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