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The Missing Scene

Updated on July 13, 2012

Critiquing The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Film production continues to revolutionize the entertainment business with talented actors (referring to both genders) and modern technology advancements. Actors can bring a story to life by relying on their personality, impersonating skills, the ability to play many character types, or merely typecast as a star. Modern technology enhances a films video and audio by producing realistic and/or surreal special effects. Although appreciated and inspiring, those elements in producing a film often mask the brilliance of composing the mise en scène, which is not define as the missing scene as I first thought. The mise en scène is French for the spatial and temporal elements in film’s settings: props, costumes, make up, hairstyle, colors, lighting, and even the actors placements and movements (Goodykoontz, B., &Jacobs,C.P, 2011). It requires teamwork of efforts from the director, production designer, art director, cinematographer, and the collaboration of their own associates, sometimes many, to design the screenwriter’s story visually. The mise en scène generally depicts the setting without needless distractions; however, it is essential for emphasizing the film’s scenes.

The Film

To understand the importance of the mise en scène’s in a film further, I have chosen a scene provided by movieclips.com, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader originally written by novelist Clive Staples Lewis ("Full Cast and Crew," 2010). The scene's title is Book of Incantations ( http://cli.ps/oYQyR) , which is about a young girl by the name of Lucy (Georgie Henley) who reads a spell from the Book of Incantations to generate snow (Movieclips, 2010). Aside from the actor and the dialogue that may usually be overanalyzed, I will examine the elements of the mise en scène chosen by the costume designer, art director, cinematographer, and the director to inform the audience of the mise en scène contributions in developing a polished and believable scene.

Costume Design

Lucy(GeorgieHenley) is the lead character and the audience’s primary fascination in the scene, but without an accurate costume and makeup design the scene in the film may appear less significant in contrast to its purpose. Isis Mussenden is the costume designer for the characters in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader ("Full Cast and Crew," 2010) and because the scene is about casting a spell for snow or mimicking Mother Nature, I believe the colors Isis chose for Lucy’s outfit and makeup symbolizes the natural world. Her rustic earth brown vest accentuates Lucy’s white blouse, which may be an indication to the snow spell and/or making a connection with character and nature. Her makeup and hairstyle also represent earth tones because her cheeks and lips are a cooling pink, and her hair is an earthy brown.Isis’s choice of costume, makeup, and hairstyle also characterizes youngLucy’s wholesomeness, which corresponds to the purity of snow. In addition to symbolisms, the colors effortlessly sustain the audience’s attentiveness as the scene transitions blend from one camera angle to another. Without this element of the mise en scène, the character and plot may appear unparallel.

Setting

The art director or the production designer is responsible for managing the costumes, props, settings, and if necessary refer to historical accuracy according to the story’s characters and storyline (Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C.P, 2011). Barry Robinson, the art director for Narnia’s sequel The Voyage of the Dawn Treader ("Full Cast and Crew," 2010) utilizes bookshelf props as well as creating an arch hallway in the background to depict a library setting because the book of incantations is the main prop in the movie clip (Movieclips, 2010). The book signifies mystery, before it is even open, because the words on the cover are in a scramble, but the buckle or latch on the book was a brilliant addition to the prop because I think it instinctively instructs the viewers to believe that the book is mysterious and perhaps meant to stay sealed. The book also compliments the earthy colors found throughout the scene, which makes the transition from character to prop appealing as well as connecting the importance of the prop to the plot that is unfolding.

Cameras

DanteSpinottiis the cinematographer for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader ("Full Cast and Crew," 2010) and his profession concerns camera placement, lens, and lighting (Goodykoontz, B., &Jacobs,C. P, 2011). Spinotti films the scene ofLucy casting a spell mainly using a telephoto lens and a color saturation technique to capture sharp close up images ofLucy and the book of incarnations. In addition to gaining the audience’s attention onLucy and the spell book, the background setting of the bookshelves and hallway are a bit out of focus to emphasize less importance. However, the audience can still reveal the entire setting making the necessary correlation with the book and the background props, which enhances the scene understanding overall. I also believe Dante Spinotti uses light fixtures on the hallway ceiling to sharpenLucy’s image in the foreground, provide depth to the scene, as well as symbolizing a library of intriguing knowledge. Additionally, the low light effect maintains the room’s mystery and continues the flow of the earthy tone colors eliminating any “sights for sore eyes” or distractions.

Direction

The director mainly portrays the person who merely directs the actors and actions while the camera is rolling, but his or her importance is deeper as he or she interprets a script into a film production and makes the final decisions with assistance from his or her collaborator’s inferences (Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C.P, 2011). Michael Apted directed The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader ("Full Cast and Crew," 2010) and ensured that the elements of the mise en scène in the movie clip Book of Incantations (Movieclips, 2010) worked well together as a unit. Overall, it was his job to decide or agree with the costume designer’s costume and makeup forLucy, the production designer’s scene props, the cinematographer’s film shots, and the actions ofLucy as well as the special effects. An example of the director’s importance in this clip is the colors Michael Apted had chosen or agreed with. If the earthy colors were not chosen to correlate and contrast the snow that Lucy casted, it may not have appeared so charming.

A Great Compilation

The scene I acquired from movieclips.com The Book of Incarnations (Movieclips, 2010) may appear simply composed, but the details that come from the element of the mise en scène refine the film’s scenes, which improve the entire film. The elements in the movie clip I chose appear to work in harmony and accordingly interpret the filmmaker’s vision. However, the mise en scène does not always need to be congruent; the style depends on the story and visions of the interpreter. The mise en scène can introduce the audience to a scene even before an actor speaks or appears on camera. The mise en scène also accentuates the actors, setting, storyline, plots, and offer clues, symbolism, suspense, mystery, and other connections to the story. Although the elements in of the mise en scènes may appear less significant in a film production, they indeed bring the story to life by sustaining the audience’s attention no matter how surreal or realistic the storyline appears.

References

Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (Bridgepoint Education, Inc.). Ashford University

Discovery Series: Film: From Watching to Seeing . (Original work published

2011) Retrieved from Film: From Watching to Seeing Chapters 3 & 4.


Full cast and crew for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. (2010).

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) . Retrieved February 6, 2011, from IMDb database.

Cast and crew information.

Movieclips. (2010, December 10). Book of Incantations [Video file]. Retrieved

fromhttp://movieclips.com/ A spell for snow.

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