AS Media Studies
Introduction to Media Language:
Mise En Scène
By the end of the session you will be able to:
• Describe the concept of ‘mise en scene’
• Use correct media terminology when
discussing mise en scene
• Apply the concept to a scene
Definition: Mise En Scene
• A French term meaning what is put into a scene
• Visual information in front of the camera
• Communicates essential information to the
• Made up of 6 elements: Can you guess what
The 6 Elements of Mise en Scene
• Costume, hair & make up
• Performance, facial expressions, body language.
• Positioning and movement of characters/objects
within the frame
• Lighting & colour
Each aspect of mise-en-
scene has hidden
meanings within a film
and sends signals to the
audience about how we
are supposed to feel at a
• Settings & Locations play an important part in film-
making and are not just ‘backgrounds’.
• Settings can manipulate an audience by building
certain expectations (these expectations can then be
• TASK: What settings might you find in:
1. A Science Fiction Film?
2. A Romantic Comedy?
3. A Horror Film?
4. A Western Film?
• Props build on the setting to create a believable ‘world’.
• Props can be used to establish character.
• Props can be used as symbols to connote additional
meanings over and above their material presence.
• ‘At their simplest, props work to give an authentic sense of place,
but can also be used in more complex ways to suggest important
characteristics of particular individuals or even key themes for the
(Benyahia, Gaffney & White, 2006)
Devdas (Samanta, 2002)
Strong flame = Strong character presence/full of life
Shaky flame = problems with character relationships/health
Dim flame/going out = Character leaving/dying
3. Costume, Hair & Make Up
• Costume, Hair & Make Up act as an instant indicator of
a character’s personality, status & job.
• It can tell us immediately whether the film is set in the
present and what society or culture it will centre
• Certain costumes can signify certain individuals (i.e.
black cloak of a vampire, Spidey’s Spiderman suit)
• Costumes are used to show difference or similarity
between characters, changes in an individual’s
character or mood as the film progresses and whether
or not they fit in with the setting.
4. Facial Expressions & Body
• Facial Expressions provide a clear indicator of how
someone is feeling.
• If someone is smiling broadly, we assume they are
happy but we may get a different feeling if this is
accompanied by scary music.
• Body Language may also indicate how a character
feels towards another character or may reflect the state
of their relationship
• TASK: What meanings/emotions do the following
5. Positioning of Characters &
Objects within a frame
• Positioning within a frame can draw our
attention to an important character/object
• A film-maker can use positioning to
indicate relationships between people
• TASK: What does the positioning in the
following images reveal about the
Lighting & Colour
Lighting & Colour can be used to achieve a variety of effects:
• To highlight important characters or
objects within the frame
• To make characters look mysterious by
shading sections of the face & body
• To reflect a characters mental
state/hidden emotions (i.e. bright = happy,
dark = disturbed, strobe effect = confused
Types of Lighting
• HIGH KEY LIGHTING:
• More filler lights are used.
• Lighting is natural and
realistic to our eyes.
• Produces brightly lit sets or
a sunny day (right).
• The three point lighting
system is commonly used
to create this.
Types of Lighting
• LOW KEY LIGHTING:
• Expressive lighting
• Created by using only the
key & back lights
• Produces sharp contrasts
of light and dark areas
• Deep, distinct
What types of lighting are used
in the following images:
Colour - Red hue
Mean Streets (Scorsese, 1973)
I, Robot (Proyas, 2004)
Terminator Salvation (McG, 2009)
Mise En Scene Analysis
• Now, watch the following short clip and think about the
elements we have discussed…
• Costume, Hair & Make Up
• Performance, Facial Expressions & Body Language
• Positioning and movement of characters/objects within the frame
• Lighting & colour
• 10 Things I Hate About You (Gil Junger, 1999)