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Movies and Film

Films Worth Remembering

The following films or moments from films are striking for the care and attention to mise-en-scène in one or more of the ways we have discussed.

  • The World According to Garp (1982). The opening credit sequence is striking for its play with the frame. Watch the baby.
  • The Blair Witch Project (1999). The scariness of this movie is completely dependent on the fact that the shooting style is documentary. Faces and figures wander in and out of frame, and the woodland mise-en-scène seems completely out of the control of the filmmaker.
  • 12 Angry Men (1957). Almost the entire film takes place in a small sequestered jury room. No special effects, no special decor. The blocking of the actors—their location in space in relation to each other and the camera—says as much about their attitudes toward the murder trial and toward their own lives as anything they say.
  • The Women (1937). Incredibly interesting decor, costuming, and character proxemics in this all-woman cast that takes place almost exclusively in the 1930s version of the haunts of feminine idle rich: perfume counters, fashion shows, Reno divorce ranches, very tony beauty parlors, and so on.
  • Alien (1979). How do you make all interior spaces look womblike?
  • Berlin: Symphony of a City (Germany, 1927). Brilliantly odd combination of found urban objects and formal placement in the film.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Movies and Film © 2001 by Mark Winokur and Bruce Holsinger. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order the e-book book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com.


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