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Mise-En-Scene in the Wizard of Oz

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Essay title: Mise-En-Scene in the Wizard of Oz


The placement of a prop or altering the way the light shines on a scene, however insignificant they may seem, are ways that the director can select and control meaning in a film. Such is in The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939), specifically during the scene where Dorothy (Judy Galand) has been locked in the Wicked Witch of the West’s (Margaret Hamilton) castle room by herself; many aspects of mise-en-scene are noticeable. Many of the elements of the scene she is in contribute to her state and other aspects of the movie. The setting and props of the film all seem to centralize to where she is and how she got there. The light focus’ just on Dorothy but also amplifies the intensity of the situation she is in. The behavior of Dorothy and the look of her Aunt Em (Clara Blandick) also contribute to meaning in the film. Mise-en-scene during this scene greatly contributes to the place and setting Dorothy is in as well as the feelings and emotions of Dorothy.

The setting Dorothy is in and the placement of the props around her add to the feelings of Dorothy and reflect the land and place she is in. First of all, the setting she is in is completely artificial showing that the creators of the film went to lengths to show that this is a place nothing like Kansas. In the background amplifies this idea that she is far away with the golden spherical instrument in the background on the sill. It is what appears to be an instrument to hold a Globe, however it is empty signifying that this isn’t Earth, her home is far away. There is also a painting below the sill, it is a golden band of boxes, this could be the representation of how Dorothy got to where she is now, the yellow brick road. However, the crystal ball seems to be the most dominant part of the scene, used to show the contrast of Dorothy’s position and to enhance the feeling for the viewer that Dorothy is scared and alone. The ball is placed specifically in the middle, where many viewer’s attentions are, so they will know right away of how Dorothy might be feeling at the time.

The setting and props, while they are helpful towards allowing the viewer to know what is happening, it is the lighting of the scene that adds to feeling of the scene at the time. Mainly, the light seems to be pouring onto Dorothy. There seems to be a pool of light over Dorothy and the crystal ball as well as a bit of light over the candle and the gold instrument. The light is sparse however near the edges of the top left and bottom right of the scene, right where the Witch’s throne would be and the corner that the books are in. This could be that we still get a good view of Dorothy and her issues and at the same time we are the shown the unsettling state of the room at the time. There is also a lack of light inside the crystal ball. The edges are blurry and dark and Aunt Em is the only thing visible. As Dorothy was knocked out, it would seem that this event that Aunt Em is acting out never happened, possibly it is Dorothy’s subconscious worrying that her Aunt Em would be afraid and scared if Dorothy did not get back soon. It shows that Dorothy might be have the same to get back to the home she wanted to leave as when she wanted to leave.

The meaning the light is showing or implying is

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