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Movie description

Major aspects of a movie narrative

A movie narrative just like fiction has a plot, setting, characterization, structure, symbolism and point of view (Dickinson, 2003). The plot shows the story sequence or events in the order as they happen. Setting attempts to answer the mental landscape on the condition of characters such as where, when, what, and who in a symbolic way. Characters are created through dialogue and action learned. Some movies contain thoughts of characters. For example, the movie Malcolm in the Middle has Malcolm talking to the viewer and making mental observations occasionally. Movies have complications, rising action and expositions where the protagonist, key actor, fights with a variety of forces to reach a resolution or climax (Dickinson, 2003). However, movies are flexible and do not need to follow this convention such as the film, Run Lola Run. Symbolism is shown in a movie through sounds and images that are repeated. This constitutes the aurial and visual medium of the movie and carries strong and embedded meanings that influence the viewer. Point of view always involve an objective position of taking a long shot while standing back to observe the action. Looking from the perspective of the third person but not the eyes of character are possibly over the shoulder shots or hand-held cameras moving as characters change positions (Huisman et al. 2005). Subjective narration is when viewers look at the world from the eyes of the character as they see what see. The character actually speaks to the camera and creates the impression that the viewer is looking at that camera.

Four aspects of mise-en-scene

The four aspects of mise-en-scene are setting, costume and make-up, lighting, figure movement and expression. Setting depicts time period, place and space. It can take an active role as in cinema or an already existing locale. Setting shapes viewers understanding of the story action (Wharton & Grant, 2005). For example, rural and simple setting n the movie Waking Ned Devine mediate judgment on fraud committed by Jackie and draws sympathy from viewers. Costume and make-up are attire and clothing of characters. They express consciousness, mood, character situation, movement, texture, color and promote. It can also motivate and play casual roles in the narrative such as the Naked Motorcycle Ride. Make up are pigments or materials that constructs the characters and strives for realism or articulation of character. For example, Make-up by Maggie in the bar looks like she is wearing it for a special occasion. Lighting is the illumination of objects so that they can be seen. It guides attention within the frame and conveys textures as well as creating shadows and highlights within objects. Annie and Jackie sitting by the fire is one example. Lighting has four characteristics; quality, direction, source and color (Smith & Randy, 2012). Finally, figure movement and expression is about the physical performance of characters such as actions, expressions and gestures. Apart from creating various kinetic patterns, it expresses feelings and thoughts. For example, during Ned’s eulogy, Jackie transforms it to gratitude of friendship with Michael.


Dickinson, K. (2003). Movie Music, the Film Reader. Psychology Press.

Huisman, R., Murphet, J. & Dunn, A. (2005). Narratives and Media. Cambridge University Press.

Smith, M.J. & Randy, D. (2012). Critical approaches to comics: Theories and Methods. Routledge.

Wharton, D. & Grant, J. (2005). Teaching analysis of film language. British Film Institute of Education.