Mise-en-scène is French for placing on stage or “placing on the screen” for film purposes. (3)

Mise-en-scène refers to everything that appears before the camera and its arrangement. Along with the cinematography and editing of a film, it influences the believability for the viewer.

Various elements of design generate a sense of time and space, as well as setting a mood, and may suggest a character’s state of mind.

The Black Swan, a movie directed by Darren Aronofsky, gives life to light and darkness and tells a beautiful, dark, twisted story, through its set design, lighting and colour palettes, costumes, as well as the acting, and even composition., (as discussed in an earlier post April 28, 2015)


The Black Swan. (2010). Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Photo credit- http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/natalie-portman/images/27525764/title/new-black-swan-stills-photo

Success with the various elements in a movie is only possible through a collaborative partnership with the director who has the vision. From the craftsmen building sets, to the cinematographer who chooses the lighting, the mise-en-scene is the result of many contributors.

One of the most important collaborators with the director is the production designer. Together they perfect all the aspects of the mise-en-scene, long before the actual filming even begins. The production designer is generally responsible for the look of the movie and leads various departments. Within the production environment, the director is more specific with his requests and orders whether to the prop master, the set designer, the make-up artists or the actors. All influence the mise-en-scene.

Set design

An important element of “putting in the scene” is the setting, and the objects (props) visible in a scene. Set design can be used to amplify character emotion or the dominant mood, which has physical, social, psychological, emotional, economic and cultural significance in film. (3)

The shot below shows the precision of choreographed rehearsal, and illustrates the movie’s theme of light versus darkness.


The Black Swan. (2010). Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Photo credit – http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/black-swan/images/19071961/title/black-swan-stills-photo


Unarguably, lighting is an element with great power. The intensity, direction, and quality of lighting can influence the  audience’s understanding of characters, actions, themes and mood. Light (and shade) can emphasize texture, shape, distance, mood, time of day or night, season, glamour; it affects the way colours are rendered, both in terms of hue and depth, and can focus attention on particular elements of the composition. The Black Swan has all of these; not only does the lighting grasp the two identities Natalie Portman portrays, it also showcases the authenticity of the ballet and the story is told through it. (1)


Acting has become one of the most important elements of film. An actor’s performance can make or break a movie regardless of how engaging the story is or how well the editing was done. It is the actor’s duty to bring their character to life within the framework of the story. Their emotional input dictates how strongly the audience feels about the film. An actor must be completely aware of their character and be ready to portray their emotions and actions as if they were their own. The actor is the basic element of 99% of films which guides the audience to empathy and reality for the movie. (2)


Readings –

    (1) http://www.slideshare.net/sarahlou79/mise-en-scene-14239171

    (2)  http://collegefilmandmediastudies.com/mise-en-scene-2/

    (3)   http://www.elementsofcinema.com/directing/mise-en-scene-in-films/


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