Week 6: Introduction to Narrative: Unit 4

For this blog I am going to choose scenes from films and explain how they use certain techniques to tell the story.

The techniques that some may use are below:

Narrative – The Story/How it is told (conveys meaning) =

  • Semiology (props, locations, body language)
  • Genre (expectations)
  • Mise-en-scene
  • Technology (lighting, camera work, audio, special effects)
  • Narrative techniques (voiceover, idents)
  • Narrative techniques (Structures) = Open narrative: finished on cliff hanger, Closed narrative: finished with the end, Single stranded: one main story, multi stranded: lots of stories, Realistic: feels normal, non-realistic: everything else, linear: chronological a-b-c, non-linear: not in order c-b-a, flashbacks

– The Usual Suspects (1995)

This is the ending scene from The Usual Suspects, it has an amazing plot twist where the character we believed to be the victim actually turns out to be villain we were looking for the whole time. The use of Semiology incredibly clever, the main character Rodger ‘Verbal’ Kint is believed to have a physical disability throughout the whole film. All the other characters refer to him as the cripple and this shows he is powerless and not feared. But it begins to click that he is the villain all along once he is released from custody then begins to stretch and walk away perfectly. Another thing that adds to this is the voiceover, it a police officer thinking over everything that Roger told him and realizing that all it was lies.



– Pulp Fiction (1994)

This scene is from Pulp Fiction it uses both the structure multi stranded and the use of flash forward. During this scene the character Butch kills another main character in the story who is Vince, however they show this in the middle of the film and we continue to see Vince throughout the rest of the film. This is because there are two sub stories within the main story, one that follows Butch and one that follows Vince and his partner Jules. During this scene we are following Butch so this explains why we continue to see Vince after his death as we then switch to his story.


There are reasons the film is made the way they are an I found this interesting to research, I feel that I have a better understanding of all the techniques such as voice overs and how to use them for my own productions in the future.

Week 6: Introduction to Narrative: Unit 4

Week 4: Introduction to mise-en-scene: unit 4

For this piece of work I am going to explain Mise-en-scene, how it works and how much someone can interpret from it.


Mise-en-scene is everything seen on-screen, the viewer translates this and creates ideas about the character or location. If the characters bedroom is really untidy, then you would think that the character is untidy as well. Another example is if the furniture is breaking then you would come to believe maybe the character can’t afford to fix them.

These are the examples of things that would come under mise-en-scene:

  • Costumes, hair, props
  • Locations, props
  • Body language: direction
  • Technology – Lighting, Sound (diegetic)
  • Placing of actors


This is the analysis of mise-en-scene in The Pursuit of Happiness. This scene uses mise-en-scene well it shows that the two characters are in a bad situation as they are in a bath room and they have things that look like personal belongings with them. You can tell that’s were they are because of the floor tiling and a sink which is generally used in bathrooms. There is a lot in this seen which shows they are not homeless such as the adult is wearing a suit and also has one neatly hanging up. You can also tell there is a lot of love and compassion between the two character as the adult is holding the child and what looks like he’s trying to block out the surrounding by covering up his ears.

This is an analysis of mise-en-scene in Tropic Thunder. This also uses strong mise-en-scene to show what environment the characters are in, their both wearing uniforms and one is helping the other who is injured, however the relationship between these two characters are unknown therefore he could instead be trying to stab him. We can see that something is going on between them as they are gripping each others hand tightly. The background puts them in context and tells us that their in a war as there is also a helicopter with a man hanging from it holding a gun, but there is no way of telling the relationship between him and the pilot or him and the two characters in the foreground..


I learned what mise-en-scene is, how it is used, why it is used and what effect it has on the audience. I also learned how everything on screen works together to create the story and if you take one bit out it may change the whole scene.


Week 4: Introduction to mise-en-scene: unit 4

Week 3: Introduction to genre: Unit 4

In this post I am going to explain what Genre is and how it is used, i will give some examples and explain. I will also talk about a certain Genre which is completley different to the others which is Film Noir.


Genre: Genre means the type of film.

There are lots of genres of film such as:

  • Horror
  • Comedy
  • Thriller
  • Western
  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Rom-com
  • Documentary
  • Sci-Fi
  • Family

You can tell generally tell what genre it is based on the Narrative, Iconography, Mise-en-scene and the technical skills used. The Narrative will be completely different for a horror film than for a Romantic comedy, the stories related to horror films are scary, horrific, disgusting and tent to all be similar. The story of a horror usually involves a killer or something supernatural that is trying to cause harm to the main characters, you wouldn’t expect jokes unless it was a horror/comedy for example ‘Scary Movie’.

The Iconography are the object related to the genre of film. In the genre Western there are lots of things that tell you its a western, they have things like revolvers, horses, tumble weeds. Also look of the object make a big difference for example if a cowboys revolver is spotless silver rather than rusty metal it shows that he is rich and uses it often. Colour is used to differentiate bad from good, bad are associated with dark colours and the good are associated with light colours.

The technical skills are what type of light, editing or camerawork was used whether it was good rule of thirds or what shot types for example Westerns for example use a lot of extreme close-ups because that what they used when they first started years ago and are strongly associated to them now so continue to use them.

Film Noir:

Is a genre which is usually dark stories involving crooked cops, private detectives and anti hero’s and tends to take place in big American cities. They are shot with low lighting and use shadows as a tool and also framed with it. instead of using an extreme close up they shone light through blinds which highlighted the characters eyes covering everything else in shadows. They also used soft lighting to light up woman actresses faces to make them more attractive. This genre of film was first introduced during WWII times so made it important that the good guy always won, this was used as escapism from the harsh reality that the audience of that time had to live in as the cinema was the only chance to do this as no one had televisions.



This is a good example of the use of shadows to make someone menacing, the characters fedora creates a shadow over their face meaning that their identity is unknown.




The lesson on Film Noir was great, I enjoyed it and learned a lot about using lighting and shadows in a specific way to portray a characters feelings or personallity.

Week 3: Introduction to genre: Unit 4

Week 2 – Introduction to Semiolgy – Unit 4

For this piece of work I am going to explain what both techniques, Mise-en-scene and Semiology are, how they are used, why they are used and when they are used. Then I will explain using three different film stills.



This scene is from ‘Apocalypse Now’, it has Rules of Thirds, and is a long shot (LS). The use of a LS in this scene is very well done as it shows everything that is going on. The subject is obvious in this scene he has neat, ironed trousers and is standing over three other soldiers. Even the littlest details can tell us a lot about the scene. We receive a lot of information from this scene and the rule of thirds plays a big part in that, the rule of thirds is when there is a three by three grid over the picture and everything of importance is positioned on the lines for example the main subject which is the man standing up. The helicopter is in the distance which shows depth and implies that the environment is quite large. And after all that most of the focus is still on the main subject.

The  Mise-en-scene was very specific in this scene so that us as the audience decode it. An example of this is the explosion in the background, we decode this and it tells us that there is a war taking place. The talent on the right is standing up for a reason, it shows he is important. By having him stand up in the middle of the battle lets the audience decode and realise that he is somewhat of a figure for these men, a captain there to lead and to boost the morale of his troop by showing no fear.


This is a scene from ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and contains a lot of the rules of composition. It is a wide shot and uses rule of thirds. Rule of thirds is the positioning of the subject/subjects, if there was a three by three grid everything of interest would be somewhere on the lines which makes it easier to understand. It also has both characters looking at the black figure approaching them which indicates that it is significant because in the actual film the character on the left does not take his eyes off him while walking. And finally it uses leading lines , the leading lines start at the two characters in the foreground and moves up towards the black figure in the middle. The two closest characters almost frame the black figure.

Semiology is used well in this scene. Semiology is the science of signs, this could be colour, images and more. So by making the figure hidden in the shadows, lets us as the audience decode it as him being mysterious, powerful as his identity is unknown or even evil as connotations of black are, death, dark and evil. Another thing is the surroundings, there isn’t any therefore where did this dark figure come from and who could he be?


This is a very powerful scene from ‘Schindler’s List’ this is a long shot, I think that a LS was a really clever choice for this scene as it shows the whole character and their surroundings which ties In with the semiology used.

The colour red is used to draw attention to the little girl, the denotation is that the girls coat is red in a black and white film. The connotations of the colour red is death, blood, life and love. All these relate to this scene as they are all surrounding the little girl, other people’s suffering and her hope so without the long shot we could not have seen the suffering in the background we would not have put the girl into context therefore not feeling the same way.


These techniques were very interesting things to learn, I feel I understand how, why and when to use both Mise-en-scene and Semiology when producing my own project and the impact it can have on someone as a viewer.

Week 2 – Introduction to Semiolgy – Unit 4