Mise-en-scene: Fight Club

For my essay about mis-en-scene I chose to write about the first scene in the film Fight Club. Mis-en-scene means in short terms what you see in a scene.

Fight Club was released in 1999 and became a major hit. Over the years the film has become legendary and is therefore known to the majority of people in England.

The first scene in fight club shows that Fight Club is an expressionist film. The producer has concentrated on light and dark as contrasts and the creation of shadows. This together with the unconventional film angel creates a dramatic perspective which draws the audience’s attention.  In the first scene we are introduced to Tyler and the narrator whose name is not revealed. We are told about a special connection between the two characters. This triggers the audience’s interest. The background of the obvious mess is also revealed and so the scene ends.

The setting of the scene is sited in a large building with big glass windows viewing a city. The setting gives us a hint of the placement of the story. The style and surroundings tell us that we are in one of the big American cities. This turns out to be right later in the film.

The characters costumes are simple dark clothes. This reflects the setting and the feeling as well as the characters personality. The costume and make-up tell of a violent community and rawness. It is obvious that their lives have not been easy. By looking at their clothes one can conclude that they are not born in the upper-classes but closer to the streets.  The way the narrator behaves when put in this spot tells the audience that he is used to violence and being threatened. His calm act shows that he does no fear death because he has practise with near death experiences. The costumes together with the building tell us the time the film is set in today’s society.

The first scene of Fight Club starts out slow so that the audience understand everything. This is done to make sure the audience will understand the context of what is said since this will have a big influence on the viewer’s understaning. This clear and slow movements and expressions are broken when the narrator shows us the van containing explosives. The narrator takes the audience flying down the building, under the ground and into the parking house where the explosives are hidden in a van. After this we return to the building where the movement slows down again before the audience ”fall” into the next scene.

The light is very dim and is the only light lightening up the empty room. This light comes from the big windows of the big building the setting is set in. The light lightens the narrators face and shows his bruised face. The intensity of the lighting shows the dark mood and tell the audience that something serious is going on. The lack of light creates dramatic shadows and excitement to what is to come. The dim light and dark colours tell the genre of the film which is action. It is obvious to the audience that this is not a romantic comedy but a dramatic action film. This way they know what to expect.

The colours in the first scene are dark and misty with a focus on grey and black. The colours represent the setting and the genre of the film. The colours make the scene dramatic and exciting and this triggers the audience’s attention.

Fight Club is an expressionist film released in 1999. The movie has a dramatic perspective and is in a large building. The style and surroundings show the audience that the film is set in one of the big American cities. The costume and make-up reflect the characters personalities as well as it tell of the violence that is to come later in the film. The lighting is weak and creates the intense mood of the scene. Together with the dark, grey colours and the shadows the audience understand that Fight Club is an action movie of the brutal kind.

Words: 701


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