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How Does The Use of Mise-en-Scene Create Atmosphere in the 'Briefing/Autopsy' Scene From Insomnia (2002)?

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Introduction

How Does The Use of Mise-en-Scene Create Atmosphere in the 'Briefing/Autopsy' Scene From Insomnia (2002)? "Insomnia", is crime/drama film, following the story of two detectives sent from Los Angeles to a quiet Alaskan town to solve the murder of a young girl. The sequence in question is at the start of the film when the two detectives (Will Dormer and Hap Eckhart) arrive in the town and are briefed for the case. The sequence begins with an establishing shot of the exterior of a police station, there is a sign to the left in the frame saying "City of Nightmute Alaska", this tells the viewer exactly where this scene will be set. As Alaska is well known as a quiet, isolated part of America, the viewer may already have preconceptions of the pace of the film and of some parts of the narrative, this may be that it will be slow-paced, it is likely that there will be few characters involved in the plot and the isolation of the setting may be relevant to the plot. The bushes surrounding the building and the large mountainside behind it show again that the set is isolated and rural, this strengthens these preconceptions. The camera cuts to a Mid shot of a female detective (Ellie Burr), entering what has the appearance of an office (because filing cabinets, folders and documents can be seen behind her), Venetian blinds can be seen placed directly behind the characters, surrounding them and almost dominating the background, having the appearance of bars, signifying that the characters are trapped. ...read more.

Middle

Unlike the local cops' uniforms, Dormer and Eckhart are wearing a leather trench coat, noir film protagonists would generally wear trench coats also, although traditional ones modern leather ones. This similarity yet difference is one of many associations between the film and classic noir. The isolated location of the setting where the two detectives are virtually marooned, is like the isolations noir characters feel from being in a vast, dark metropolis. The darkness which encompasses the overcrowded cities of traditional noir films is substituted by the constant light (at that time of year) of the small, quiet town in Insomnia, additionally, In the second half of the sequence, when the detectives are in the autopsy room, it is clear that it is an autopsy room as the body of the dead girl is lying on a metal bed, also there are other props in the background, such as the pipes, taps and chemical bottles, giving a cold, clinical feeling to the scene. The coroner also has a lab coat on, strengthening the scientific and cold approach towards death. Lighting is one of the aspects of mise-en-scene also, this scene uses overhead lighting. Overhead lighting emphasises the actors' cheekbones The scene uses relatively low key lighting, this creates an atmospheric, sombre mood as well as referring again to film noir, in which low key lighting was an essential component. ...read more.

Conclusion

of professional criminals, in Heat, Pacino's character becomes personally involved with his investigation and the suspect involved, even confronting him at one point. Pacino's character, stops the man he is after but decides to take him for a coffee, rather than arrest him. They sit together at a caf´┐Ż and converse about both their ambitions, their lives and their principles, towards the end of the conversation they both say that they have to do what they have to do so if it came to it they would kill one another. Again in the role of Dormer, Pacino becomes overly involved in the investigation personally, then he eventually confronts his suspect, they meet on a boat and detective Dormer tells the suspect (Walter Finch) how he is just like other criminals and will not get away with it. In return, Finch tells Dormer that it looked as if he had killed his partner on purpose and tries to trick him into feeling guilty although it was an accident.. Heat is sometimes seen as a neo-noir film, this goes back to the idea that Insomnia is similar in ways to noir films. Watching the film, it feels as though Detective Dormer's character background needs not be explored, as the viewer can assume that it is similar to Lieutenant Hanna's. Another reason his past is not fully explored is because another convention of noir films which is brought into this one is, the mysterious, jaded past of the protagonist. ...read more.

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