What is mise-en-scene? Mise-en-scene is the arrangement of scenery and properties to represent the place where a movie is enacted. It is most commonly used to show the setting of the movie. But if used correctly can be used to portray the feelings of the characters and to help tell the story. Orson Welles made sure to use the props, actors, and even the camera to use mise-en-scene to tell the story of Charles Foster Kane to its fullest. Character positions, camera angles and music, and framing used to tell the story in Citizen Kane. It’s use of mise-en-scene made it not only ahead of its time, but it made it a masterpiece.
Citizen Kane uses mise-en-scene is multiple scenes to help tell the narrative. A perfect example is when the parents of the Charles Kane are speaking with Walter Thatcher in the house. As Kane’s parents are discussing giving Kane ...view middle of the document...
The entire movie is affected by this one scene and links to his dying word, rosebud. This is the sled that he was playing with during that important scene. Without this scene we would not know the importance of the sled at the end of the film.
In another scene, we see Kane and his first wife, Emily Monroe Norton Kane, sitting at a dining room table. At first they are speak to each other in a loving manner. We notice that they are sitting close to each other at the table as well. As the scene continues, we see them no longer sitting next to each other. Rather they are sitting at opposite sides of the table. This is showing that they are slowly becoming further apart emotionally. At the end of the scene we see Emily reading The Chronicle, which is the rival newspaper to Kane’s Inquirer, which Kane is reading. As they sit in silence reading rival newspapers, this is representing that they no longer have any emotional attachment.
In Citizen Kane, Orson Welles blends camera movement with the drama of the scenes. A good example is the introduction to El Rancho. This is where Kane’s second wife sings. The camera begins on a sign outside the restaurant and from there is moved with a crane towards the roof of the building. From there it is moved through another sign and approaches the skylight. When it reaches the skylight, the camera goes through the skylight and we are presented with a high-angle shot of the El Rancho. The shot establishes space and sets up the scene, but it does this in a plain and noticeable way.
Citizen Kane is filled with symbolic imagery. In most of the movie you can pick out scenery, character actions, lighting, camera movement, and the composition within the frame of key shots that help tell the story without the character orally telling the full story. However, because of its new and experimental use of mise-en-scene, the movie did not do well in the box office. In time Orson Welles movie would become one of the best movies of all time and would even come to change filmmaking in Hollywood.