‘If it’s on screen and if it’s a physical object recorded by the camera, then it’s part of mise-en-scene’, allowing this to be a very good tool to convey narrative in a film. Mise-en-scene is used to convey narrative as any image you see, you subconsciously try to depict a story from, hence film makers put objects in-front of the camera that signify something, helping you dissect what the narrative is about. As a result, there are a great deal of visual prompts that express different connotations, making it easy for the narrative to unravel. This tool is split up into four clear sections; setting, costume and make-up, lighting and staging. Each one of these sections have separate elements that can portray different things, for example in the ‘costumes and makeup’ part, the characters costumes can connote what their personalities are like.
Additionally, it can show; the era in which it is set in, the film’s genre, character relationships and significant props that could be the main lead in the narrative. Cinematography is an added strong aspect linked closely with mise-en-scene, that is based around the camerawork involved in film making. This can include special effects like motion capture, colour, techniques like depth of field, and a variety of shots. ‘Baby Driver’ is a good example of how mise-en-scene and cinematography is used to convey narrative in it’s opening film sequence. It incorporates both well, being able to showcase clear visuals that display parts of the narrative and the connection between character and action. Setting is one of the main sections of mise-en-scene as it can tell you a lot about a film. ‘The overall design of a setting can shape how we understand story action’, due to there being a wide range of scenery compositions, showcasing different genres.
This specific category includes location, time, era and props. In the opening scene of ‘Baby Driver’ it shows blue skies and busy roads, showing it is set in the day-time. It pans across high rise buildings, cars driving on the right-hand side of the road and cop cars with the name ‘Atlanta’ on the side of them, this revealing it is set in the city centre of Atlanta, Georgia, United States. At the very start of the opening film sequence, it shows a modernised car and the main character holding an iPod, this suggesting the era is modern day 21st century due to the advanced technology.
These points can all straight away convey the narrative as a modern-day lively atmospheric film. The very first prop that draws to your attention is the bright red car that pulls up onto the pavement, the colour red is clearly used to grasp your eye and hold some significance in the narrative, hinting that the film could be based around cars, or whoever is in the car is a crucial character. Later on, through the sequence you get to discover that the character driving is the get-away driver as you see guns being shot in a near-by building, just before the car drives away, connoting the genre to be a crime based violent drama. ‘Setting can weave through a film to form motifs within the narrative’, therefore having the police car feature in the chase part repeatedly implies the narrative includes aspects of action. As it plays along there is a key feature that appears a lot which is the protagonist’s iPod and headphones. There is constantly music playing through the whole sequence, giving the impression its coming from the headphones, making this come across as an important prop with a strong lead in the narrative.
This is based on the fact, he seems so attached to the headphones, the audience is curious as to why no one else is wearing them and wondering if it’s to help him concentrate, as he’s portrayed to be the get-away driver in the crime being committed. All these observations help as ‘they may serve as iconographic demonstrations of genre’ conveying the narrative deeper by using mise-en-scene powerfully. Secondly ‘Costumes can play important motivic and casual roles in narratives’, getting across clear connotations such as; characters personality, enforcing the era and character relationships. One clear costume difference you see first is the protagonist wearing very casual neutral coloured clothes, whereas the other three in the car are wearing business attire, all in black. They are all still very trendy clothes fitting in with the modern era, but the way the three characters are different to the protagonist, emphasises they could be doing different jobs, or clash with each other, as it shows them to be on different sides. All the colours of the costumes are very black, connoting they don’t want to draw attention to themselves. ‘Costume is often coordinated with setting’, consequently the big bright city centre, makes the darken plain characters stand out. One clear visual link is they all have glasses on, showing they are all connected, like a team, in some way.
Wearing glasses can often signify privacy or trying to be hidden, therefore enforcing the genre as a crime drama. In one particular shot you see the three smart characters put masks over there face all at the same time, drawing attention to the fact they don’t want to be see or recognised. Further-more they all have gloves on, expect the driver, implying they can’t be showing any skin or leaving finger prints anywhere, this reinforces the genre being about crime. Towards the end of the sequence, the women of the crime team, move to the driver’s seat in the car and changes her costume. She is now wearing a pink top, skirt, and her hair down to portray she is a casual mum driver. She has no glasses or gloves on to come across as a normal everyday citizen. This illustrates that she has done this before and is used to running away from the police, as maybe crime is her job.
Meanwhile the protagonist moves to the passenger seat, looking like he is her son been driven. Make-up can likewise be a strong aspect of mise-en-scene as ‘film actors rely on their eyes to a very great extent, and make-up artists can often enhance eye behaviour. Eyeliner and mascara can draw attention to the eyes and emphasise the direction of a glance’. When the get-away driver is waiting for the criminals to get back in the car, he gives a stern stare out the window, watching them. This can be exaggerated by makeup as “thick, straight eyebrow, commonly applied to men’ are used to create this facial expression. This displays how he is concentrating and ready for action. He looks very serious and dedicated to his job, allowing mise-en-scene to convey the narrative clearly. Lighting is a very important part of mise-en-scene and helps to convey all sorts of narrative possibilities.
This technique can be used to draw attention to specific objects in different shots, that are an important asset to the storyline. An ‘unexpected change in lighting may enhance a dramatic effect’, by emphasising a part of action that was important. One crucial approach to film making is three-point lighting, which includes a backlight (a light placed behind the main object to help give a 3D look), a key light (an intense light aimed at the main object your focusing on) and a fill light (a softer light aiming the opposite direction of the key light to cancel out any shadows created). This would have been used in the film ‘Baby Driver’ as it helps to create volume and no flatness to the shots. There are four main sections in lighting called; quality (the intensity of the light source), direction (what is being highlighted), source (where is the light coming from) and colour (added filters to create different effects).
In the ‘Baby Driver’ opening sequence, there is a lot of high quality lighting to give off a happy busy city centre vibe. The source mainly used is the sun, it’s a very bright blue skied day. They try to brighten up the whole place like it was a summer’s day, as American is known for the good weather enforcing the setting more. American is also stereotyped for accepting guns, linking back to the genre ‘Crime Action’. The film has the same kind of lighting throughout, no shadows created for an atmospheric tension, as its showcased to be very vibrant city life but no dark secrets. The car is red and brighten up by light sources, to help illustrate how the narrative is linked to cars. Having a vivid coloured car, keeps your focus on the rapid police chase through the visuals, connoting the characters job and what they film is all about.
There is no real dramatic change in lighting in this sequence as it’s shown to be a serious professional job with no problems to face. This allows mise-en-scene to convey narrative in such a clever way. Staging is another way mise-en-scene helps to convey a films narrative. ‘An actor’s performance consists of visual elements (appearance, gestures, facial expressions) and sound (voice, effects)’.
Acting can be split up into two parts; naturalistic (similar to real life) or stylised (theatrical). ‘Baby Driver’ is a good example of naturalistic acting, as what happens in the film can happen to anyone in an everyday situation, such as robbery’s or police car chases. There are a few examples throughout the opening sequence that convey the narrative through staging, one being at the start they have very serious faces. This could connote they are focused with a serious job, but as they get out the car, one of them smirks. This comes across as if she excited and is a regular thing they do and loves the thrill. The three criminals always do everything in sync which can portray them as a strong team who have worked together for potentially a long time.
Another gesture used in the film is when the criminals get out the car and the get-away driver is waiting, and he starts miming aloud to the song in his headphones. He didn’t do this when they were in the car so this suggests he can’t really act himself around them, he has to act professional. On the other hand, while he is dramatically miming a police car goes past and the noise makes him stop and focus on the mission he is undertaking.
This can reveal that he is very good at what he does but possibly doesn’t want to do it. This could be due to the criminals not having a lot of faith in him as in the chase shot they all have facial expressions of worried and unfaithfulness, as if they don’t trust him. This could also be down to when one of them pointed to drive, the get-away driver drove the opposite direction, connoting his independence and a clear personality trait.
‘Sound was introduced to cinema in 1927’ granting musicals to be invented, which is what ‘Baby Driver’ is based around. Sound is used to pair up with mise-en-scene, helping to convey narrative. There are three simple fields; speech, music and sound effects. This film sequence has a song playing throughout the entire thing, cutting every action to the beat. This plays a huge part in the scene which implies it could flow through being an important aspect of the narrative. Diegetic (a sound that was made by its original origin) and non-diegetic (a sound that has been made, i.e. music) sounds can be very successful when wanting to emphasise parts of mise-en-scene, such as all the different sound effects.
For example, in ‘Baby Driver’ the police sirens, horns beeps and tyres skidding to signify panic and a chase, supporting the narrative effectively. ‘Cinematography and special effects are both aspects of mise-en-scene, even though the former is performed by, rather than placed in front of the camera’, making it’s a very strong point when used to convey narrative. Cinematography is everything related to the camerawork of a film, and is a very complex in-depth field. High point of view and low point of view shots are good to portray personalities of characters, showing if someone is a scared weak person or a powerful intimidating person. Another technique used is speeding up and slowing down a shot, for example when the get-away car drives away it shows some sped up shots of the car driving. This connotes they are being chased, emphasising the genre ‘crime action’. Different types of shots, for example a cut, are all linked to mise-en-scene. There are multiple varietys of cut shots; action, content, P.
O.V and more. In the ‘Baby Driver’ opening sequence, there are these shown like the P.
O.V cut This helps to illustrate how the character is feeling and what it’s like to be in their shoes. Like-wise there are four simple camera mobility types you can create called; pan, track, tilt and crane. A pan is a good shot to use because it can easily link things together, as it was used in the swapping of cars, in the ending of the opening sequence, making the narrative flow fluently with good continuity. Having diverse colour choices for your film can help you depict a lot about the narrative, as ‘light and colour are some of the most powerful tools in the cinematographer’s arsenal’. For instance, if it was in black and white it would look like it was set in the olden times.
In relation to the sequence in ‘Baby Driver’, it shows bright striking colours to display a modern feel, enforcing the genre and narrative more. The main factor involved with cinematography is catching the audience’s eye as the lens needs to do practically what your eyes do. Having a good type of visual that your eyes can follow, enables you to focus on what the film maker wants you to focus on. Interpreting quality information, conveying the narrative through the mise-en-scene.