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Mise-en-scène in Elephant

by Michelle Langford

We use this clip from Gus van Sant's Elephant (2003) to teach our students about various aspects of mise-en-scène. In particular, it provides a good illustration of how mise-en-scène can be understood as a practice through which the film event is staged for the camera. It is also an activity that is closely linked to the art of direction. As Bordwell and Thompson have written in Film Art: 'In controlling the mise-en-scène, the director stages the event for the camera'.
Here, the sequence is presented in a single long take in which the camera closely tracks the character. Note also, how at the opening of the sequence, the setting/location is presented in such a way that the viewer is invited to contemplate the scene. This is very different from films that use fast editing to pick out details of the scene for us. Here, our eye is allowed to wander. We also ask students to consider the role of music in this sequence.

Mise-en-scène in Elephant

by Michelle Langford

We use this clip from Gus van Sant's Elephant (2003) to teach our students about various aspects of mise-en-scène. In particular, it provides a good illustration of how mise-en-scène can be understood as a practice through which the film event is staged for the camera. It is also an activity that is closely linked to the art of direction. As Bordwell and Thompson have written in Film Art: 'In controlling the mise-en-scène, the director stages the event for the camera'.
Here, the sequence is presented in a single long take in which the camera closely tracks the character. Note also, how at the opening of the sequence, the setting/location is presented in such a way that the viewer is invited to contemplate the scene. This is very different from films that use fast editing to pick out details of the scene for us. Here, our eye is allowed to wander. We also ask students to consider the role of music in this sequence.

Mise en scène and the long take in Elephant

Clip from Elephant by Gus van Sant

from Elephant (2003)
Creator: Gus van Sant
Distributor: Madman
Posted by Michelle Langford
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