Micro Essay


An analysis of cinematography and Mise-en-scene within a sequence from Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”

In this essay, I will be exploring the elements of Mise-en-scene within a film, and why it is essential to create meaning and generate a response from the audience of the film. Mise-en-scene contains lots of different aspects such as costume, props, camera angles, body language, sound and the performance of the actors. I will focus on a 7 minute clip from “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring [Which I will refer to as [LOTR:FOTR]” which I think portrays all of these elements of Mise-en-scene. The clip that I will be using is when the Fellowship is in Moria, and just after the fight in Balin’s tomb with the cave troll, to just after Gandalf’s encounter with the Balrog.The sequence begins with a long shot of the fellowship standing in the tomb, and then they hear movement and see shadows on the wall of the caves. The sound of the moving goblins is heard before it is seen, which makes all of the characters turn and look towards the noise before the audience sees it, as the camera cuts to looking at a wall when the shadows start to come into view, this tells the audience that it is in fact, these evil characters coming towards the fellowship again. This makes the audience start to feel almost nervous again, as the fellowship have just finished a large battle, and will soon be involved in another one. The lighting of the cave is very dark with a small, bluish tint to the lighting, which gives the caves a very mystical look. It also gives the connotation of the light in the dark or light at the end of the tunnel, which could contribute to the storyline of the trilogy of films, where the whole land is in darkness, and the only beacon of hope is the fellowship. The landscape of the cave is a rocky, barren wasteland, which nothing but stone structures and pillars. This gives the idea of the evil, and the hardness of the creatures that live there. It shows that they don’t need material objects, and it also hints to the audience that it isn’t humans that inhabit the building.When the fellowship starts to run out of the tomb away from the shadows. they run into a large area, also seemingly abandoned with many large pillars throughout the room. The music is orchestral and fast paced which builds the tension of the scene and hints to the audience that the fellowship will eventually encounter the creatures that are chasing them. The music also happens to be the main theme music for the whole film, which also emphasises the fact that something will happen to the fellowship as they are fleeing. The camera also starts really close to the fellowship, and slowly tracks back to show them as tiny figures, almost impossible to tell between them, as they are almost dwarfed by the huge structures around them. The camera is also panning out into a high angle extreme long shot, which could symbolise the characters’ dwindling hope as they run and more and more Orcs start chasing and surrounding them.As the fellowship are running, the camera cuts to a close up of the 4 hobbits running, and frantically looking backwards in a panicked manner. This shows that they are scared, and they can see something behind them that the audience have not. It shows that they are afraid of what they can see, and tells the audience they are running from something highly dangerous. The very next camera shot is looking backwards from the fellowship, and is panning backwards as if it is looking backwards from the hobbits point of view. The camera is also a very wide and Dutch angle shot, which allows the camera to show even more of the Orcs that are chasing them, and make it look more as if it is from the character’s point of view. This shot is all CGI, as it would be impossible to re-create all of the Orcs as extras in costume, and the whole set of the cave. In the next shot, the camera has an extreme long shot and pans around the fellowship as they are running, and shows more and more Orcs coming out of the floor. It shows that the fellowship’s attempts at escaping is futile, and they are getting surrounded by the goblins. This could also link back to the fact that the whole of Middle Earth is surrounded by the forces of evil.The costumes of the characters also tell a lot about the characters. The fact that the character of Gandalf has grey clothes and hair, and is in fact, called Gandalf the Grey, enhances the fact that he is a very mysterious character, and never reveals very much about his past at all. Also the fact that he is a wizard, also makes him a very mysterious person. The costume of Legolas is all green and bright colours, which is reflective of his nature. The bright green colours that he wears are following the common conventions of film, where the Protagonists wear light colours, and the Antagonists wear darker, black colours. Also, the character of Frodo is seen as the embodiment of good throughout the film, and wears a white shirt, light brown overalls, and a green cape, to symbolise the purity of him at this point in the film. The goblins that are chasing the fellowship are all wearing dark, black and grey clothes, which instantly tells the audience that they are not friendly towards the fellowship, and reveals that they are in-fact, evil and lethal creatures. The character of the Balrog that Gandalf fights towards the end of the sequence, is all fiery and really large, with large horns coming from his head. This could make the Balrog be linked to the traditional image of the Devil, who also usually portrayed around fire, larger than normal people, and with horns.When the Fellowship is surrounded, a roar is heard and the background slowly starts to turn orange, all the goblins begin to flee as they know what is coming, whereas the audience is still left in the dark. The first character that knows what is going on is Gandalf. He looks sombre, and the way that he just looks down as if he is sad, instantly tells the audience that he knows what is going to happen, and what is coming around the corner by the orange lighting. The fact that the audience can tell all of this just from his facial expression, shows that this character is smarter than the other characters. The fact that when the Goblins run away, the character of Gimli thinks that the goblins are running away from them. This type of “big headed” and vain character is normally portrayed in many films, but LOTR also plays with the idea that the smallest person in the whole fellowship, is also the strongest and the most vain, when it is usually the opposite.When Gandalf is standing on the small bridge facing the Balrog, it has connotations of the ongoing battle of God vs. The Devil. The Balrog looks like the devil, with all of the fire surrounding it and with its horns and evil presence, where Gandalf could be seen as representing the good that is Jesus Christ. He is dressed in long robes, has a long beard and can do magic, which makes him above any other normal person.I think that the effect of this clip on the audience is very great. The fact that is in one of the most pivotal points of the film, also emphasises the importance of this scene to the audience. When Gandalf, one of the main characters in the film so far “dies”, it really shocks the audience as they would not have been expecting one of the main characters to die so early in the film. It also goes against the conventions of most films, as the main character does not normally die early in the film. Also, when the fellowship are running through the vast halls, it tells the audience that something very large could be living here, and the fellowship would be dwarfed by it and its surroundings. Also, the fact that it is so dark and dismal, the audience also is made to think that the fellowship will make it through the darkness, even though it looks as if they have very little hope in being able to survive the caves.Word Count : 1460  



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3 responses to “Micro Essay

  1. asdfghj

    Wow, your writing sucks… It rambles, it doesn’t flow and it does not allow for a ‘smooth reading’. Besides than that, you touch on some good points… I’m copying this 😉

    …Just parts, that’s all. It would be stealing otherwise. Which is bad >>;

  2. Yeah I’m not the best writer in the world. 😀
    The formatting got messed up when I posted it.
    Yeah! Feel free. 😛

  3. ;)

    yup i reckon im borrowing bits of this too
    microstudy in tomorrow

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