Elements for analyzing mise en scene
Identify the components of the shot, but explaining the meaning or significance behind those components and connecting the shot to the themes of the film
1. Dominant: Where is the eye attracted first? Why?
2. Lighting key: High key? Low key? High contrast? Some combination of these?
3. Shot and camera proxemics: What type of shot? How far away is the camera from the action?
4. Angle: Is the viewer (through the eye of the camera) looking up or down on the subject? Or is the camera neutral (eye level)?
5. Color values: What is the dominant color? Are there contrasting foils? Is there color symbolism?
6. Lens/filter/stock: How do these distort or comment on the
7. Subsidiary contrasts: What are the main eye-stops after taking in the dominant?
8. Density: How much visual information is packed into the image? Is the texture stark, moderate, or highly detailed?
9. Composition: How is the two-dimensional space segmented and organized? What is the underlying design?
10. Form: Open or closed? Does the image suggest a window that arbitrarily isolates a fragment of the scene? Or a proscenium arch, in which the visual elements are carefully arranged and held in balance?
11. Framing: Tight or loose? Do characters have little to no room to move, or can they move freely without impediments?
12. Depth: On how many planes is the image composed? Does the background or foreground comment in any way on the midground?
13. Character placement: What part of the framed space do the characters occupy? Center? Top? Bottom? Edges? Why?
14. Staging positions: Which way do the characters look vis-à-vis the camera?
15. Character proxemics: How much space is between the
What are the 4 distinct formal elements that make up a film’s mise en scene?
• staging of the action
• physical setting and decor
• the manner in which these materials are framed
• the manner in which they are photographed
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