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Meaning in Film & Mise En Scène

nicoleponsford | Saturday October 22, 2011

Categories: GCSE, AQA GCSE, OCR GCSE, Eduqas (WJEC) GCSE, WJEC GCSE Film Studies, WJEC GCSE Media Studies, A Level, AQA A Level, AQA A2, AQA AS, OCR A Level, OCR A2, OCR AS, Eduqas (WJEC) A Level, WJEC A2, WJEC A2 Film Studies, WJEC A2 Media Studies, WJEC AS, WJEC AS Film Studies , WJEC AS Media Studies, Film, Mise-en-scene, Key Concepts, Media Language, Hot Entries


Denotation and Connotation

These are two important words concerned with the way an audience understands the meaning of a media text. These can also be called the signs and signified meaning, or the micro and macro features.

Denotation / sign / micro feature is the basic, literal meaning of what is in the picture or scene.

Connotation / signified meaning / macro feature means different interpretations suggested by the text, often associated with additional meaning, values, or ideology.

The denotation of this picture is that one man is pointing his finger at the other, with a yellow taxi in the background.

The connotation depends less on the facts as shown in the picture, and more on our interpretation of the scene depending on our cultural knowledge and the signs shown. We see this is Leonard Di Caprio, who is a Hollywood star, so if probably as the protagonist is the hero. He is angry and explaining something, as if he has been threatened. He is known for playing conflicted, intelligent men (Catch Me if You Can, Gangs of New York, The Departed) who are tortured by their inner demons (The Beach, Catch Me if You Can) who have a short temper (Titanic, Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet).

The yellow taxi tells us this that the location is New York, America. We can even look at the costume and hair cuts to tell us that this is based in the present or in recent history / future.

Analysing Film

When writing about film, there are four key areas to analyse. These are:

  • Camerawork
  • Mise-en-scène
  • Sound
  • Editing

Within these sections there are different things you will need to explain and understand. This includes using the correct film language.


Where the camera is placed is very important for how the audience understands a scene. The camera angle is the exact position of the camera. e.g. a high angle shot is where the camera is looking down on the scene from a high point.

1. Typically the camera shows a scene from the...

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