Introduction to Film
Paper Assignment #1: Mise-en-scène

English 2450/Communications 2010, section 5
Steven Shaviro
Paper due on Wednesday, October 5, 2011.

You will be watching a sequence from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is a science fiction film, originally released in 1969.

Your task is to describe and analyze the mise-en-scene of this sequence. Make sure to look at all the various aspects of mise-en-scene: settings and sets, props, costume and make-up, staging and performance, and lighting.

Then consider the overall shape of Kubrick's mise-en-scene. To what degree is it naturalistic, and to what degree is it fantastical or symbolic? (Note that, even if it is a fantasy of the future, the director may be attempting to make that fantasy vision feel as realistically convincing as possible). Given that Kubrick was attempting to present a vision of the future to the viewers of his time, how does he use mise-en-scene to make this vision credible? What feelings did he want his viewers to have about the future world that he was depicting?

Finally, compare the mise-en-scene of 2001 to the mise-en-scene of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. What stylistic similarities and differences do you see? How do these directors convey their visions of the future, and what sorts of visions are they offering us?

The film clip is available for viewing here:
If the video clip does not stream, you may need to download it to your hard drive first, and then watch it. If you cannot view the clip in your computer's regular video program, you should try watching it with the program VLC Media Player (available for download at: