Mise en scène embraces the most identifiable qualities of a film, including the actors, lighting, make-up and setting. The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick, and Schindler’s List, directed by Steven Spielberg, are two films that encompass Mise en scène very clearly. In The Shining, Mise en scène incorporates lighting and human figure placement through nature and location of the Overlook Hotel. Schindler’s List is a film that takes place in Poland during World War II, and although the film is mostly in black and white, there are prominent scenes, which incorporate Mise en scène through setting, human figure placement and lighting. Although very different in plotline and narrative, both The Shining and Schindler’s List share very important qualities in a film through Mise en scène, setting and lighting.
Throughout The Shining, Mise en scène incorporates setting and lighting along with human figure placement. One of the most prominent scenes that integrate Mise en scène is the very first scene of the film that initially exhibits a beautiful outlook of nature and its peacefulness. As the scene progresses, the music becomes increasingly darker, causing the audience to feel very anxious and uneasy. Although the setting is supposed to resemble peace and serenity, it does the exact opposite and strikes horror and uneasiness. Additionally, as the film progressed the setting of nature becomes even more dangerous as the Overlook Hotel is completely secluded from society, creating an even great feeling of distress. The irony between nature and a feeling of anxiety is exactly what the director expected. The Overlook Hotel is located in the midst of mountains, secluding itself and anyone who resides there as well. This type of setting causes an image to appear as if the characters are such a tiny part of the bigger picture. Although the characters are a major part in the movie, they do not hold the amount of significance as the setting since it provides viewers with a deeper understanding of the film.
Moreover, along with The Shining, Schindler’s List provides a strong sense of Mise en scène as well. Schindler’s List takes place in the Holocaust and surrounds itself around one human being who saved many. There are many aspects of Schindler’s List that contributed and made it such a strong and influential movie. However, Mise en scène plays a crucial role in the film that causes it to be so powerful. The setting of the film mostly takes place in the concentration camps where countless people were tortured and murdered, creating both a sense of location and a mood that reflects a character’s emotional state of mind. Although the film is set in black and white, there are many techniques in lighting that enhances the meaning of each scene including light coming in from every direction in order to provide the subject with a sense of depth and meaning in the frame of the scene.
The technique of lighting is very prominent in both The Shining and Schindler’s List as it represents and instills uncertain and unwanted feelings in viewers. The significance behind the lighting in The Shining is crucial in understanding the film. For instance, Danny writes, “redrum” in the color red to symbolize the blood and horror that takes place in the film. As the movie continues, it is revealed that “redrum” spelled backwards is, in fact, “murder”. Like The Shining, Schindler’s List also uses the color red to define death and horror. This type of lighting in both films correlates to the loss of innocence in children. In The Shining, Danny loses his innocence as he obtains supernatural abilities and is able to see and hear the sounds of death. Additionally, a color filter was used in the film to highlight the little girl in the red dress. The lighting in this scene also highlights the girl’s innocence and how the Nazi’s irrepressibly steal it from her. The color filter exhibits the contrast between Oskar Schindler and the girl as the defiant red represents the blood of war. In both films, the color red is very prominent and important as it depicts the color of death and of danger. The lighting in both scenes is very dramatic and very significant as it affects the emotions of viewers to feel what is expected. Ultimately, the lighting and the enhancement of color demonstrate the loss of innocence in children and correlates to the emotions of the audience.
Mise en scène is the concept of designing a stage in films, in which setting, lighting, props and costumes are able to reveal as much of the story as the acting. Although very different in both genre and topic, The Shining and Schindler’s List share important qualities with setting, lighting and human figure placement. In The Shining, the setting and location of the Overlook Hotel and the danger in nature corresponds to the uncanny feeling of danger that is instilled in viewers. Moreover, throughout Schindler’s List both lighting and setting play important roles in the film. The movie is set in World War II during the Holocaust and much of the movie exhibits what happened in the concentration camps, setting a feeling and a mood for viewers. Although the movie is set in black and white, the lighting in the film focuses on one scene at a time and causes there to be a certain emphasis on specific subjects. Lastly, in both films, lighting plays a crucial role as it demonstrates the art of horror and the significance of the color red. In both The Shining and Schindler’s List, Mise en Scène provides much detail and importance for each and every scene.
College Film and Media Studies
15 major points on Mise en scène