Five Fabulous Expressions of Style in Cinematic Composition

Five Fabulous Expressions of Style in Cinematic Composition
Credit: Carol (2015)

The French term, “mise en scene” is used in film to describe the sense or feeling of a scene. The word is an attempt to capture the sum total of a particular scene’s million tiny constituent details. Everything that appears before the camera plays a role: composition, sets, props, lighting, costume and actors. It is the artistic representation of forms in space, and while difficult to put into words, it profoundly changes the way a viewer reacts or feels in relation to the story.

Notice the feeling you get when you walk into a room and take in the colours of the walls, the art displayed and the type of flooring. It sparks a reaction; the atmosphere can be cosy or sterile. The same thought goes into the production design of a film, what is the director and designer trying to convey with space their characters take up?

The set design is integral in creating the mood for the world the film takes place in. It informs us on the personality of characters; where they come from, what they like, their class etc.

This week we wanted to focus on the artistry behind cinematic compositions that enamour their audiences viewers and tingle our senses.


Plein Soleil (1960)

Credit: Plein Soleil (1960)


Based on Patricia Highsmith’s book, The Talented Mr. Ripley, René Clément’s 1960’s classic gives us the summer house of our dreams in a fictional provincial town on the coast of Italy. The idyllic setting and tone acts as foil against Alain Delon’s subtle and masterful portrayal of Mr. Ripley.


In the Mood for Love (2000):

Mood is everything in Wong Kar-Wai’s classic. It is considered one of the most stylish films ever made, and for good reason. The use of colour in claustrophobic spaces creates a tension of forbidden lust in the air.

Credit: Faa yeung nin wa (2000)


Chocolat (2000)

Credit: Chocolat (2000)

If only all bakeries and chocolatiers were as quaint as the one in this film.  It feels timeless and inviting. We love the teal blue walls matched with the dark mahogany, some of the many details that lend the shop a sense of permanence, playing into the film’s larger themes.


Carol (2015)

Credit: Carol (2015)

In Todd Haynes’  moving love story, the picture perfect image of 1950s suburbia is established, examined and ultimately dispelled through a stunning combination of acting, directing, and design. Cate Blanchett’s delicious expression of contemptuous disinterest (seen above) is a great example, as well as a a reminder that wallpaper doesn’t get old when properly applied.


The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

Credit: The Darjeeling Limited

Impossible to talk mise en scene without including Wes Anderson. Well known for his painstaking attention to detail and shockingly vibrant sets, Anderson collaborates with production designers that are able to transport the audience to a world that is meticulously coordinated.