by Warwick Mules Classical mise-en-scène analysis elides an excess that, when revealed, exposes film’s figuration as a movement of appearing or Erscheinung – a revelation of “otherness” as the very constitution of film in its relation to the viewer. My aim is to undertake an analysis of this figuration in Terrence Malick’s film The Tree of Life, as the shining of the film in its possibilities – in what it reveals of itself as “other” to character and narrative drive. The essay responds to Steven Rybin’s analysis of The Tree of Life, recently published in this journal, which focuses on the acting style of Jessica Chastain who plays the mother in the O’Brien family, a typical mid-twentieth century family living in Waco, Texas. Rybin argues that Chastain’s acting style, and in particular her glances, resist male authority and project her own vision of the world. My analysis shows how the actor’s glances can be seen in terms of a more comprehensive vision enacted by the film which reveals an Erscheinung or revelatory appearance of “otherness” repeatedly shown throughout the film.
by Mark Balderston Though critical response to Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void (2009) was largely divided, critics consistently lauded the film’s visual style, remarking upon its effective use of mise-en-scène and cinematography to accomplish its unique sensory perspective. Often overlooked, however, is the role of sound in constructing the spatio-temporal displacements that help establish the film’s hallucinatory universe. Enter the Void’s use of sound is as unorthodox as its visual style, using an abstract electronic score that blurs the distinctions between score and sound effects, and a highly subjective treatment of the voice, rather than "realistic" Hollywood-style conventions. The sound element of mise-en-scène in traditional narrative film, “Hollywood’s sonic vraisemblable,” creates continuous, "realistic" off-screen spaces by the use of background sound effects and synchronized dialog. In her book examining the voice in cinema, The Acoustic Mirror, Kaja Silverman views these techniques that help to suture the spectator into the story as “the sound analogue of the shot/reverse shot formation.” By contrast, the temporal and spatial disruptions created by Enter the Void’s unique sonic aesthetic introduce an ontological uncertainty that is necessary to convey the metaphorical spaces and imaginary events that comprise Oscar’s hallucinations and afterlife.