Film Analysis: Visual Style


Mise-en-scene

3-Point Lighting

Comprised of key, fill and back lights.

Diagram of 3-point lighting
Key light: main source of illumination.

Fill light: fills in shadows created by the key light.

Back light: separates figure from background.
Combining these three results in 3-point lighting.

Cybill Shephard in Moonlighting (1985)

Moonlighting frame grab


Lighting Contrast: High Key vs. Low Key

High key lighting.

A Night at the Opera (Wood, 1935), 16:00

A Night at the Opera A Night at the Opera

Low key lighting

Citizen Kane (1941), 18:10.  
The Big Combo (1955) Double Indemnity (1944)
Double Indemnity
The Lady From Shanghai (1948)  
The Lady From Shanghai The Lady From Shanghai
The Matrix (1999)
 
 

The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)

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Mad Men production still (2010)

Mad Men

Day-for-Night, aka, la Nuit Americaine

The Hitch-Hiker (1953)  
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Out of the Past (1947)  
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Sample Mise-en-scene Analyses:
Shakespeare in Love and Raging Bull

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Additional mise-en-scene examples

From "Style and Setting: Mise-en-Scene," Television: Critical Methods and Applications, 3rd edition; www.TVCrit.com.


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Last revised: January 27, 2012