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A Word A Day — mise-en-scène

Good morning, Netizens...

December 27, 2012

Word of the Day

  • mise-en-scène
  • audio pronunciation
  • \meez-ahn-SEN\


a : the arrangement of actors and scenery on a stage for a theatrical production b : stage setting
a : the physical setting of an action (as of a narrative or a motion picture) : context b : environment, milieu

"Rick Owens creates worlds more than fashion. His shows are famous for their otherworldly ambience, from the mise-en-scène (from foam to fire to electrifying light shows) to the soundtrack." — From a post by Matthew Schneier on's Style File blog, November 5, 2012

"Studio pictures tend to have a more controlled and artificial mise-en-scène no matter how elaborate and detailed the setting. The lighting is, after all, unnatural, space is confined, and locations are constructed. The emphasis is more on the interaction of characters and less on the interaction of character and environment." — From Ira Konigsberg's 1987 publication The Complete Film Dictionary


In French, "mise en scène" literally means "the action of putting onto the stage." The term's use originated in stage drama, where it refers to the way actors and scenery props are arranged; as its usage expanded into other narrative arts, its meaning shifted. In film production, "mise en scène" refers to all of the elements that comprise a single shot; that includes, but is not limited to, the actors, setting, props, costumes, and lighting. The director of a play or film is called the "metteur en scène"—literally, "one who puts on the stage."

Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.