Mise-En-Scene Assessment Term Paper

Length: 6 pages Sources: 8 Subject: Film Type: Term Paper Paper: #14866715 Related Topics: Heart Attack, Family Assessment, Self Assessment, Infant Observation
Excerpt from Term Paper :

Clint Eastwood Films

Client Eastwood Films

Clint Eastwood is often hailed as an adept actor but his work as a director is also legendary. His directing goes back to the early 1970's when he started off with Play Misty for Me. Since then, there have been some extraordinary movies that are ensconced in movie history. These movies include Million Dollar Baby, Unforgiven, J. Edgar and others. The genres he touches on include drama, Westerns and even a little comedy here and there. Famous (and often pilloried/mocked) scenes and sequences that typify his work include the neck injury scene from Million Dollar Baby and the general motifs used in his Westerns. The author of this report is being asked to drill down on two films in particular that Eastwood did and look at some mise-en-scene elements including the acting, sound, editing and so forth. Two critiques of those movies will be included and assessed as well (IMDB).


The first movie that shall be drilled down on is perhaps not the most obvious, and that would be Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil. The overall plot of the movie starts with a fairly major swerve. Indeed, the ostensible premise of the movie at the onset is that John Kelso (John Cusack) is in Savannah, GA to do an interview with Jim Williams, a many portrayed by the masterful Kevin Spacey. As the movie goes on, there are tangential stories relating to voodoo specialist Minerva, a love interest with Mandy Nicolls (portrayed by Clint's daughter Alison) and others. However, the story goes into a completely different direction once Billy Hanson enters the scene. At first, it's the scene where Billy wields a broken beer bottle on who is later found to be his lover, that being Williams, while Kelso is present. This is one scene in the movie that can be looked at because while a much bigger story change is coming, it sets the stage for what is to come. Prior to that point, the story is pretty basic and Williams presents himself to be enculturated, astute and refined. However, his association with Billy clearly is off-putting and shocking to Kelso, as one might expect, as is shocked reaction to Billy's violence is impossible to miss. However, Kelso was also alarmed and was forced to react to other things such as the older woman waving the pistol around and the imaginary dog being walked around. The bigger swerve comes later when Billy and Williams get into a confrontation that culminates with Billy being shot dead by Williams in the latter's home. The rest of the movie revolves the trial that Williams is subjected to for the alleged murder of Williams (IMDB).

While there is some room for review and perception, it becomes clear that Williams behaves at least somewhat improperly and unethically as he could have mitigated what happened with Billy even though he didn't start it. The second scene that can be pointed to is much shorter but much more complex. Williams gives a painting as a gift to Kelso and notes that he'll have it shipped. As the conversation goes on, it is clear that Kelso takes a rather dim view of Williams' actions relating to Billy's death and the ensuing trial. Once again, Kelso is a little reserved and cryptic about what he says in that he is not overt and blunt, but it is quite clear what his overall mindset is. Once Kelso leaves the frame, a very good scene fragment comes to light. Williams is going about his business and then it is clear that he is suffering a heart attack. He clutches his chest and then the viewer hears...


The focus goes from a wider view of Williams to something that is very up close and personal and that focuses on a particular even, that being the heart attack. The overall ambient noise of what his happening to Williams is replaced with the sound of what is surely going on in his head whereby his heart is betraying him. The catalyst of that scene is when Williams hits the ground and Billy, obviously a dead man given what Williams did to him, is seen lying on the floor looking at Williams after he falls on the floor. They are lying on the floor, both presumably where they met their end in that room, looking at each other and creating a poignant scene (IMDB).

What makes this latter scene great is that it has so many layers. Kelso with his thinly veiled judgments, but not an overt condemnation, shows that he definitely has an opinion about what happened but he's keeping it to himself except to make it clear that what his view is without actually saying it. After all, silence and close-ended statements can be just as loud as saying what is really thought and felt below the surface. Further, the shift from the wider scene to the plight of what Williams is going through is also quite beautiful. Finally, the introduction of Billy back into the scene is ironic, it shows that Williams knows what he did wrong and it also dovetails with the work of Minerva and the beliefs of others throughout the movie. To some, Minerva may seem like a crackpot but she turns out to be right in many respects. She even pegged what was going on between Mandy and Kelso. Kelso himself changes his tune as he embraces the oddness and uniqueness of the area as he gets even closer with drag queen Chablis Duveau, chooses to stay and live (at least temporarily) in Savannah and he's not the least bit alarmed by the leash with no dog or Minerva's advice (IMDB).

The other movie that will be looked at is Unforgiven, which has a host of top stars including Eastwood himself, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman and a few others. The main premise of the movie is that Bill Munny (Eastwood) use to be a bad, bad man but was pulled out of that by his wife's counsel and direction. However, his wife is now dead and he's no good as a farmer. As such, he needs some money right away. He gets his chance when a whore in his town is disemboweled by some rogue cowboys. The other whores in the town are less than impressed by the local police response (headed by Hackman's character Bill Daggett) so they enlist the support and services of Munny (IMDB).

The catalyst scene and sequence at the end of this movie is the best one to look at. However, the scene where he kills an unarmed man who killed one of his friends was quite close as he is overtly and surprisingly (to some) unapologetic about doing so after the fact. However, the last scene is the best one. After a shootout in the bar, Muny is present and it turns out that Daggett (the evil sheriff) is still alive. Munny detects that Daggett is trying to kill him and steps on his arm. Daggett, in a rather bold way, says he should not be killed by saying he doesn't "deserve" to be shot. Munny replies by saying that "deserves has nothing to do with it." Daggett gets even more overtly bold and says "I'll see you in Hell." Munny, without missing a beat, says "Yeah" and kills him even though he's not an immediate threat to his life, much like the prior-mentioned scene in the bar. Eastwood amps things up even further and says that he's going to leave the bar and that he will annihilate anyone standing there, their families and their homes. People apparently take him at his word as no one is out there. He further demands his dead friend Ned (Freeman) is buried and that the whores not be harmed or he will wipe out the whole town. He then leaves town and the credits reveal that Munny has moved to San Francisco and has made a new life selling dry goods. While there are not a lot of camera tricks or contrived drama like with the Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil scene. Rather, the viewer is focusing more on the brazen and unapologetic resolve of Eastwood's character and how he will lay waste to anyone who does not comply with him and he does not give a damn what anyone else thinks of his ethical code (IMDB).

Reviews of these two movies were mixed, as with most movies, but some were quite surprising. For example, Roger Ebert actually hated Unforgiven and only gave the movie two and a half stars. Gene Siskel, his longtime partner in reviewing and critiquing movies, gave it a thumb down. He said that there was not enough drama and momentum at the end of the movie. He later reneged on that thought as he said he had a wedding pending in his life when he did the…

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