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Mise-en-scène in Breaking Bad - the secret behind the pillar

by Michelle Langford

We use this clip in our first year film studies course to further develop student's understanding of mise-en-scène. It is also a good illustration of the concept of cinematic television. This clip, which is from the final episode uses a carefully paced camera to introduce the viewer to a domestic scene. Skyler is seated at a kitchen table, smoking and talking to Marie, who informs her that Walt is back in town. The sequence cuts back and forth between Skyler and Marie as their phone conversation continues. Notable elements of the mise-en-scène include the use of low lighting and dept of field in the shots of Skyler in the kitchen. In the foreground we can see a table with children's toys and Skyler further in the depth of the image at the extreme right of the frame. The shot is cut in two by a pillar. As the scene continues, the camera will slowly track forward to reveal a secret behind that pillar. The shots of Skyler vary between long shots, close-ups and mid-shots. Similarly, those of Marie alternate between different shot lengths. In the background we see a man through the window perched on a ladder, an element that gives the scene a discomforting effect and enhances the sense of threat posed by Walt's return.

Mise-en-scène in Breaking Bad - the secret behind the pillar

by Michelle Langford

We use this clip in our first year film studies course to further develop student's understanding of mise-en-scène. It is also a good illustration of the concept of cinematic television.
This clip, which is from the final episode uses a carefully paced camera to introduce the viewer to a domestic scene. Skyler is seated at a kitchen table, smoking and talking to Marie, who informs her that Walt is back in town. The sequence cuts back and forth between Skyler and Marie as their phone conversation continues.
Notable elements of the mise-en-scène include the use of low lighting and dept of field in the shots of Skyler in the kitchen. In the foreground we can see a table with children's toys and Skyler further in the depth of the image at the extreme right of the frame. The shot is cut in two by a pillar. As the scene continues, the camera will slowly track forward to reveal a secret behind that pillar. The shots of Skyler vary between long shots, close-ups and mid-shots. Similarly, those of Marie alternate between different shot lengths. In the background we see a man through the window perched on a ladder, an element that gives the scene a discomforting effect and enhances the sense of threat posed by Walt's return.
In the shots of Marie,

Mise-en-scène in Breaking Bad

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Breaking Bad Season 5, episode 16 'Felina'

from Breaking Bad (2013)
Creator: Vince Gilligan
Distributor: AMC
Posted by Michelle Langford
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