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Classical Hollywood narrative is the style of filmmaking with which most mainstream movie audiences are familiar. Films produced in this style are structured with the narrative as the unifying force behind all other aspects involved in the mise-en-scene. The mise-en-scene in this style of filmmaking seeks to integrate aspects of the medium from costuming to the blocking of actors into a unified whole with the prime directive being that nothing should draw the viewer out of the artificially constructed reality of the story…
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Film Studies
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Download file to see previous pages Casablanca and Singin' in the Rain may be the ultimate examples how the idea that only one approach to mise-en-scene is representative of classic Hollywood narrative ideology. Both films are iconic examples of a traditional Hollywood studio production from the era when everybody involved in filmmaking was under contract to just one company. The studio executives, and not the director, determined the final result, which had to be created while facing obstacles such as star demands, daily rewrites, and an eye toward the bottom line of profits. As a result, both movies possess such typical Hollywood narrative elements as a protagonist, an antagonist and a clearly defined plot that utilizes such narrative concepts as rising and falling action. The opening sequence follows the cinematographical template that marks most Hollywood films by commencing with a series of establishing shots and signals intended to promptly inform the audience of such necessary elements in mainstream storytelling as setting and time, pointedly eschewing irony and non-diagetic distancing devices. The opening sequence of Casablanca also serves the more subtle means of establishing ideology and lends credence to the suggestion that setting can "dynamically enter into the narrative action". 2. The exotic locale of the city of Casablanca with which the majority of filmgoers are doubtlessly unfamiliar is effortlessly exploited to heighten the sense of chaos and disorder that will shortly become vital to both the narrative and message that the movie is meant to convey. The film moves quickly to follow the logical cinematic progression that tracks from universal to the personal. After successfully introducing Casablanca as a foreign port on another continent that seems to have little to do with the interests of its American target audience, the link is made explicit as the city is revealed to be a vital point on the route of those attempting to escape the Nazis by fleeing to America. The lighting is low key, dominated by shadows that reflect the shadowy world of shifting allegiances and ambiguous morality. Those shadows work effectively to symbolize the idea of the shadow of fascism lurking over the rest of the civilized world while also intensifying the realism that is a necessity in a propagandistic film3. The mise-en-scene choices behind the entirety of the opening sequence of Casablanca is motivated by the narrative functions associated with imparting to the audience such vital information as the time and historical context of the film for its ideological message while simultaneously creating the necessary mystery that surrounds the character of Rick Blaine and the activities that take place inside his cafe. Likewise, despite the rapidity with which the film has moved from its ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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