November 1, 2013 American Psyco The Film I chose to dissect and discuss mise-en-scene is American Psycho. In this movie the protagonist, Patrick Bateman (christian Bale) Leads a double life as a business man and serial killer. He never strikes the audience with any motives for his murders, but he pursues them vigorously. As Bateman continues his secret identity through the film, the anger inside him builds up until he eventually snaps and admits all of his killings to his Lawyer. The lawyer replies with a chuckle and does not ven considering the fact that Patrick Bateman could be stone cold killer.
Most of the men introduced throughout the film have similar self obsessed qualities to the character, not thinking of anyone but themselves. This action packed black comedy thriller displays tons of mise-en-scene and vividly visual. I found one particular scene that clearly demonstrate miss-en-scene chosen by Director, Mary Harron. In this scene Mr. Bateman has the perfect date planned for his secretary Jean. The shot opens in Bateman’s apartment with the two making small talk about his elegant ttire and wonderful view, as he offers Jean some sorbet.
While he reaches for the ice cream in the freezer, the audience gets a quick glance at a frozen head that seems to be wrapped in a turkey bag. This obviously seems to be the most dominant aspect of the shot, being in the center of the frame and consisting of high-key lighting directly above the head and filling the rest of the shot with Bateman’s dark black blazer sleeve. The allusion is given to the audience that Jean is most definitely going to experience a murdered as the foreshadowing frozen head is seen. The the camera angles are mostly back and forth shots of Bateman and Jean from Just a few feet away.
Here the directer displays strong color symbolism with Jean on the white couch dressed white and Bateman wearing the dark black suit that overpowers the light in the room. This is classic symbolism of black and white, good versus evil. Bateman continues to walk around the kitchen as Jean sits on the couch conversating. The camera angle is still at close range for the most part with an angle pointed down on Jean and upward towards Bateman. The director chose these ngles to demonstrate that Patrick Bateman was in control of the scene.
As he casually walks through his kitchen continuing small talk, Bateman is searching for the perfect weapon to satisfy his sick addiction for the night. The camera shot closes in on a drawer full of knifes, then continues to shot from a far behind Jean angle again looking up at Bateman Then back again at more knifes that are even bigger to complement the options of murder utensils. The shot can be looked at as both tight and loose, from this confined apartment with an open floor plan allowing multiple amera angles from one room.
As Bateman keeps his calm complexion he then walks to the cabinet full of power tools and duck tape. He grabs the tape as she asked, “what’s that”? He quickly puts down the duck tape and heads for the nail gun. Jean fallows with asking if he’s ever wanted to make anyone happy. The character placement is important to this image ana tne actual scene, ItselT. Botn Bateman ana Jean are equal Olstance Trom Dotn sides of the frame. Nonchalantly Bateman walks behind the couch Jean is sitting on ith the nail gun in the center, each character is on either side of it.
Bateman’s head is in the top of the frame, while Jean’s is closer to the bottom. The main idea behind the placement of the two is wondering what he is going to do. Both the characters in the scene are in profile. The viewer can’t completely see either of their faces. They are also both facing the left of the screen and their heads are both slightly angled down. If Jean rose from the couch she would probably be exactly symmetrical to Bateman. There isn’t too much space between the two either. It is wide enough for
Bateman to hold the nail gun out with his arm fully extended, but still with some space before the gun touches her head. With all of these different elements one can come to the conclusion that this shot is in fact a mise-en-scene. I never realized how much thought goes into what a scene should be able to say in the story. All of the different formal elements complete a piece of the puzzle that wouldn’t work as well if there was a missing element. The shot tells so much of the story without having to actually see the film and truly captures the essence of the movie.