Whenit comes to making films, the idea of mise en scene is an important theme. There is so much attention that goes intosets, sound, cinematography, and actors, and how all of this contribute to howthe narrative is displayed. The directoris largely in charge of all of this in order to properly execute a certain viewof the narrative.
It is the way that amovie is shot and how the narrative and characters are portrayed in the narrative, that the viewer getsimpacted. It is in this way that viewersare able to take so much away from the Adaptationand My Own Private Idaho movies.In Adaptation, themovie evokes certain reactions from its viewers because of the realness of itscharacters. The film is an adaptation ofthe novel The Orchid Thief byscreenwriter Charlie Kaufman in which he shows his own attempts and processesof adapting the book into film. The filmitself largely relies on the emotional and psychological states of itscharacters.
The same notion goes for in My Own Private Idaho. Between Mike, Scott, and the street hustlers,viewers see the humanity in the characters and are able to relate. The structure and cinematography of themovies work with showing this humanity and highlighting the relationshipsbetween the characters, and by extension, the relationships between thecharacter and the viewer.The structure of the movie works with the flow of the plotand, more importantly, the flow of character development throughout thefilm. The direction of the movie workswell in following Charlie’s path and his struggle to adapt a screenplay for hismovie and Susan’s demise in living two different lives between the one she hadbefore and after she met LeRoche. Thestructure of portraying these two characters’ lives, and the lives of thepeople who are around them and impact their actions, is choppy andnonchronological at first, before both their worlds converge. This gives viewers some sort of resolutionthat is separate from that of the actual move.
The coming together of the two worlds – which before had only beendiscussed and alluded to by the other – came in the movie as a sort of breathof relief. In My Own Private Idaho, the flow of the film is somewhat dictated myMike’s narcoleptic episodes. Theseepisodes are an example of a transitional element as viewers are moved fromscene to scene, and the plot is carried on through the use of flashbacks andsudden scene changes. Every time that Mike experiences anevent that triggers his narcolepsy, or every time that he has a flashback ofhis mother, the film gets a rebooting or resetting of sorts.
Charlie is Adaptation’s protagonist, and is the main focus of the film’scommunication of psychology. Differentcamera shots focus on communicating different feelings and aspects of Charlie’spersonality. We learn the kind of personthat Charlie is, not necessarily because of dialogue, but also through subtlehints and body language. In a lot ofshots Charlie is displayed in a closeup, but when he isn’t, some of his face isdisplayed as shadowed in some way or the other. This communicates to viewers as to Charlie’s personality that shows thathe is insecure, actively avoids attention when he can, and that he is ashamedof himself. Charlie is not a man who iscomfortable with who (or where) he is and has a low idea of self-worth, whichare feelings that are very relatable to the human population.The dialogue in My Own Private Idaho is inspired byShakespeare’s play Henry IV.
The film centers on strained relationships,including familial, brotherly, and romantic relationships. The two main characters Mike and Scottstruggle to find their place in the world and search for what it means to be afamily. Between the portrayal of Mikeand Scott’s characters, viewers are shown how home does not necessarily lie inone’s parents, but in family that one finds on their own.
This idea is shown in the way that Scott andMike are shown along with the rest of the street hustlers, and especially withBob. When it comes to setting in Adaptation, there are special tells byway of lighting, space, and blocking. When Charlie is isolated, there is an emphasis of cold space andemptiness around him.
This room, and thelighting always seemed cold and almost with a life of color. Viewers see these patterns up until the endof the film when Charlie accepts more of himself and has his epiphany. The dynamic between Donald andCharlie, and the emotions that their relationship evokes from Adaptation’s viewers is veryinteresting.
Charlie and Donald are bothcharacters that are basically opposites of each other. Where Charlie is seen as anxious,self-loathing, and depressed, Donald is seen as calm, confident, andlively. From the beginning, Charlie isseen as the ‘more’ successful brother because of his previous successfulscreenplays while Donald is seen as a man who has failed at every non-committalthing he has tried.
Because of this,there is a perceived unbalanced power balance between the two, with Charlie inthe advantage. In shots of the earlyscenes, Donald is displayed as lower to Charlie, to display this. He is physically shown in a lower position todisplay this power balance. However, asthe movie progresses, it is seen that Donald is the stronger of the twoemotionally – and even begins to flourish in his screenwriting – while Charliestruggled to find the perfect adaptation. It was in this way that viewers see the power balance shift, resultingin a feeling of anger, jealousy, and resentment from Charlie. This essay has shed a light on howthe reception of a movie is not only based on the individual themselves, butalso on deliberate positioning and shooting by way of the film’s productionitself.
Over time, viewers have beenconditioned to pick up on cues (both visual and subtle) and understand how themanipulation of a shot can elicit various emotional responses appropriate forthe narrative, and filmmakers count on that. This is evident in the production of Adaptation and My Own Private Idaho. Allthe choices that directors make – including cinematography, setting, visualcues, audio and sound design, and costumes and properties, to name a few –contribute to the purpose of the narrative (1065 words).