Mise-en-scène: How It Can Create A Fantasy

Considering mise-en-scène is everything on the screen, I couldn’t help but notice all the straight lines being displayed in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Whether it was a bridge, a door, or even a piece of luggage, the lines often protruded becoming a focus of the screen. It somewhat reminded me of a stage for a theatrical performance.The lines also provided countless symmetry throughout the film. This arrangement of screen geometry sort of gave the film an unrealistic feel. Not only did this give the film an unrealistic feel, but so did some of the costumes. We would often see characters in the mountains with barely any clothing on. This combination of what some might say are silly aspects reminded me of when Dr. Zinman asked us to pay attention to how mise-en-scène plays with reality. Here we see Anderson’s choice to create order and structure with his symmetrical design plays with this telling of a story by having it feel more like a perfect world. Anderson may have done this because of its ability to accurately portray the feelings of the man telling the story. M. Gustave’s lobby boy Zero is telling this story who is strongly influenced by him. As a concierge, order is what makes M. Gustave happy. So it is no surprise that Zero then associates order with his happiness and fantasy. Zero lived through the fascist control, and was able to see how much of an impact it had on the world in the following decades. This life where people do not seem optimistic for this world to return is reflected in the autumn orange surrounding Zero’s setting in his later years of his life. That perfect world Zero once knew seems so far away it feels like a fantasy.

2 thoughts on “Mise-en-scène: How It Can Create A Fantasy

  1. I find it interesting when you mention the colors that Zero ends up in, the autumnal palette. Yes, those colors can symbolize the death of the world that Zero once knew. Autumn, the spookiest of seasons, inherently represents death, with the fading color of the trees, such as the fading facade of the hotel. However, without Autumn, when the leaves die and the trees become bare, there is no room for the spring, where the trees bloom alive once again. With the death of the characters in the film and the rundown of the hotel, at the author’s gravesite, there is still the reader, opening up the story. In a way, this could be Anderson’s way of saying the hotel is still pristine. Just as the hotel is on the cover of the book, that is how the readers will remember it, and Zero and his life will live on.There are still opportunities for the hotel to start new, people are free from the fascist regime again, and will read the author’s book and keep the hotel’s history alive.

  2. I love the idea here of fantasy and how it is demonstrated through different elements of Mise-en-scéne. two important elements I noticed throughout the film were the vibrant colors and the camerawork. At one point, Gustave is sitting in a red elevator with two workers at his side, all three of them wearing deep purple uniforms. this one shot fully encapsulates the extreme use of color and how it creates an imaginary atmosphere. never in my life have I been in an environment with colors such as these, especially in a hotel elevator, so seeing it makes me believe that this is not real life, but some imaginary place instead. In another scene when they are being chased down the mountain in sleds, the film seems to be in 2x speed. I’m not sure if it actually is, but the way that they are skiing down the mountain looks as though it’s just not real. I believe the reasoning for these fantastical elements is because the entire film is a story. It’s a story being told by Zero, which is then being about by the author. whenever my mom tells me a story, she exaggerates a lot, and then the next time she tells the same story she’ll exaggerate even more. I believe Wes Anderson creates these scenarios that seem imaginary to remind us that this is a story being retold, so in reality the colors may have been more dull, and the mountain chase may have been slower, but through the lens of story telling it can be so much more extravagent.

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