To What Extent Does the Mise-En-Scene in ‘Night of the Hunter’ Reinforce an Understanding of the Film's Mood, Character and Narrative Themes?
1168 WordsAug 11, 20125 Pages
To what extent does the Mise-en-Scene in ‘Night of the Hunter’ reinforce an understanding of the film's mood, character and narrative themes?
The term Mise-en-Scene is used to signify the director’s control over what happens in the film frame. In English the phrase literally translates to “putting in the scene” (Bordwell, 2010a). ‘Night of the Hunter’ (Charles Laughton, 1955) is a prime example of a film that uses aspects of Mise-en-Scene to sway the audience’s opinions of characters and their understanding of narrative themes and to create a certain atmosphere in the film. “Although the fundamental aspects of Mise-en-Scene in both theatre and cinema are those of lighting, blocking and production design (costume, props and sets),…show more content…
The way the actor fluctuates between being composed and being suddenly aggressive expresses the psychotic nature of his personality. However, even when he is composed the actor still manages to give an unsettling performance. Although a lot of this is communicated through lighting techniques and non-diegetic music, the actor was required to give a rather edgy performance. This performance in ‘Night of the Hunter’ allows, in the narrative, the more strong-minded characters such as John Harper and Rachel Cooper to see through his disingenuity. We are shown Rachel Cooper and John Harper’s discomfort by their facial expressions, most prominently when Reverend Powell is giving his speeches about love and hate.
The costume of Reverend Powell is also instrumental to the narrative in ‘Night of the Hunter’ as the he relies upon his typical preacher outfit to fool the unsuspecting characters, the costume having obvious connotations of good morals. Similarly, makeup is employed in this film but this time to signify a progression in narrative. This is apparent when the kids are on the journey down the river, their eyes made dark with makeup. This indicates to the audience that the children have been travelling for a long time. The setting of the river is also significant in this film. Just like the western road movie genre, when the children escape, it can be seen as “a