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WHAT IS MISE EN SCENE When I stated in bygone days that everything is expressed on the screen through mise en scene in no way contested the importance of the subject-mater and the imput of the numerous people cooperating in the making of a movie I never intended for instance to ignore or dismiss the significant contributions of the actors and the scriptwriters I simply wanted to point out that the distinguishing feature of a great director lies precisely in his ability to metamorphose the stupidest plot into a meaningful work It is obvious that if we tried to summarize on paper the plot of say COURAGE UNDER FIRE directed by Edward Zwick and written by Patrick sheaxie Duncan 1 996 we would end up with a very ordinary investigation conducted by an officer I dont understand how so distinguished a critic like Janet Maslin could write The screenwriter brazen enough to create such contrived ties between the Walden and Serling characters is Patrick Sheane Duncana combat veteran with a particular interest in Medal of Honor recipients Mr Duncans plotting is impossibly neat but as he demonstrated in Mr HOLLANDS OPUS he has the rare ability to shape a clich story in newly affecting ways If one takes these remarlcs at their face value then director Zwicks work only consisted in translating the script into images and Duncan is the real author of the movie I am sure that Zwick work on this movie as his other films resembled more to what Hitchcock explained about the contribution of scriptwriters As to the actors Meg Ryan and Denzel Washington were not in my opinion always as convincing as in other roles under the wand of different directors wick has succeeded in efficiently using their talent through his mise-en-scene Maslins article NYT july 121996 Then what is mise-en-scene In origin this word borrowed from the theater meant literally placing on the stage It refers
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