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Tim Burton's use of mise-en scene in Beetlejuice, Batman Returns and Edward Scissorhands

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BeetleJuice and The Batman's Scissorhands, Burton's clever use of Mise En Scene. Where scenes are often used to build momentum in films, mise en scene refers to how space in individual shots to create dramatic or emotional effect, or symbolic meanings throughout the movie. The term mise en scene derived from France and means "placing on stage". In movies it refers to how objects, characters and materials are placed inside the film frame. This relates to the choreography or design of individual visual elements in individual shots, including people, objects and their location. Sets, props, camera movements, make-up and costume all contribute to the mise en scene of any particular movie. Tim Burton as a director unleashes his imagination and experiences when making a film, his unique skill at creating dreamscapes of unusual, freakish characters, outsiders conflicting with the so called "norm". The clashing of two worlds that co-exist as well as his gift at incorporating childlike imagery - the idea of innocence and taking pride in childish things is evident in most of his films. I have decided to explore three movies that he directed, "Beetlejuice", "Batman Returns" and " Edward Scissorhands". Each movie presented the viewer with a different look into a new world with Burton's use of unique sets and props, lighting, costumes and acting. ...read more.


The best description of this line can best be seen between "Edward Scissorhands" and Beetlejuice. The gothic architecture of Edward's home is out of place to the other world. It is an outsider, much like Edward is, as Peg approaches the house, viewers will notice the two worlds, that of the house and the suburban fighting for space, just like when the Maitlands enter the afterlife waiting-room, the startlingly normal clashing with the outrageously weird and spooky. In Beetlejuice however this is played for comedy, whereas in "Edward Scissorhands", it's played for surreal effect. Props play a huge role in Burton's movie, in "Batman Returns" it's the constant use of bats not only to signify the caped crusader's entrance but also represents the dark and solitaire nature of the protagonist, this naturally stemmed from seeing his parents killed by criminals. As most viewers would link bats to vampires and therefore an emotion of fear, Burton adopted the bats prop to connote fear around "Batman" particularly to his victims. While the bats signifiers are visible throughout the movie "Batman", Burton uses strong camera focus on two particular props in the other two movies. In "Beetlejuice", there are deliberate camera focuses on the model town house that Adam Maitland is building, this model actually represents the normality of the world and where everything is in its rightful ...read more.


Selina rips her clothes and destroys her dolls after she realises she was killed and Lydia discards her Goth attitude after the Beetlejuice incident. It is also interesting to note how realisation plays a strong role in the growth, Burton successfully allows each character to come to their own individual realisation of the real world in unique ways, much like a child growing up. Burton was able to stamp these three movies with his own artistic authority through clever use of devises such as sets, props, camera movements and completed with award winning performances. There were many realistic concepts that were conveyed through exceptional use of mise en scene in all three movies. I have come to realise that mise en scene hold great importance for auteurists like Burton because under the classical studio systems, directors had no control over editing, script or storyboarding unlike Burton who has complete control over his movies and introduces audiences to his own image of monsters and a possible world much like ours but different in many ways. The choices he makes about the use of signifying devises have made his movies hugely successful as well as allow the viewer like myself to identify with his characters. "The quality of a director's work could be read through his/her style or his/her control over the mise en scene". (Nelmes, Jill. An Introduction to Film Studies). ...read more.

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