Good Example Of Essay On Satyajit Ray’s And Deepa Mehta’s Use Of Mise-En-Scene In The Narration Of Their Stories In Aparajito And Water.
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Films are tools through which society preserves and transfers values from one generation to another. Mise-en-scene is an important concept in the analysis and appreciation of films. This paper concerns itself with two movies; Aparajito, directed by Satyajit Ray, and Water directed by Deepa Mehta. Ideally, it discusses how the two directors have used mise-en-scene to tell their stories, set the moods, and to reveal their characters.
Definition of mise-en-scene
According to Huda, mise-en-scene refers to the choreography of a given film. Indeed, it involves aspects such as the movement of the camera, camera positions, shot scale, durations of the shots and the pace of editing. Mise-en-scene also includes all the major aspects contained in the filming and shooting of movies such as staging, props, and costumes (Huda, 140).
Mise-en-scene in Satyajit Ray Aparajito
Aparajito is the second movie in the Apu Trilogy. The first was Pather Panchali. Apur Sansar came fare Aparajito. Aparajito is set on three main characters Harihar (husband), Sarbajaya (wife) and their son Apu. It starts on a sad note with the death of Apu’s father, Harihar. Apparently, Harihar was a priest in the Indian religion with strong roots in the faith.
How Satyajit uses Mise-en-scene to tell the story
The sparkling fireflies, which appear blissfully flying in the air upon Sarbajaya’s death, provide an interesting twist to the storyline. Ray also uses this style in Harihar’s death scene. Apparently, in Hahihar’s case, the pigeons whirled in the sky after his death. Ideally, this sequence of events marks Harihar’s freedom from misery (Aparajito). Indeed, this prop demonstrates the creation’s feeling of shock about the deaths.
Ray varies the duration of his shots both to tell the story and to set the mood. Indeed, he uses series of short shots, which offer excellent digestive material for the viewers. Essentially, this helps to sustain the viewer’s interests at peak. Additionally, Ray avoids using many close-ups in the film. According to Huda, many close-ups mar the film and destroy its beauty (Huda, 140)
Ray uses natural habitats and hues to reveal imminent beliefs of the Hindu. For instance, the quest for water from Ganges River by Harihar underscores the Indian belief in the sanctity and emancipating power of the water. The scene in which Apu runs to find the holy water from Ganges River shows this strong belief (Aparajito).
How Satyajit uses Mise-en-scene to set the mood
Satyajit Ray uses mise-en-scene to set the mood in unique ways. For instance, he uses conflict to show the severity of Apu’s decision to study on Sarbajaya. Incidentally, Apu manages to convince his mother, who unwillingly consents to the idea of his education. In addition, it uses simple setting for the plot, thus is devoid of excesses in the content and form of the movie. Interestingly, Ray adequately captures the deaths of Harihar and Sarbajaya in an elegant fashion (Aparajito).
The choice of dark color and old houses shows the solemnness of the various scenarios. Thus, through this, he sets the moods of sadness, grief, and loss especially in the two cases involving the deaths of Apu’s parents. The activities of school and work make Apu spend many months away from his mom. Apu’s absence makes her mother depressed and lonely. Incidentally, during Apu’s absence, Sarbajaya falls ill and eventually dies. Satyajit captures this theme by use of soft oriental background music (Aparajito)
Ray uses unique brilliance to set the mood for the fireflies in Sarbajaya’s quest for her son. According to Aparajito, the filming of this scene posed a technical challenge to Ray and the crew. Apparently, Sarbajaya sees some fireflies flying by the pond as she is looking for Apu in her desperation. Incidentally, Ray overcame this challenge by selecting the toughest members of his crew. Ray had them wear black trousers and shirts and let them each carry a battery, a length of wire, and flashlights. The team held the bulbs high with their right hands while showing the whirling movements of the fireflies in a dance. Ultimately, they were able to disconnect the wire and the bulb (Aparajito).
How Satyajit uses Mise-en-scene to reveal the characters
In addition to Apu’s family, there are three more crucial characters in this movie. These are Nanda Babu, Bhabataran (the old uncle), and the Headmaster. Ray uses the scene prior to Harihar’s death to disclose the Indian beliefs. Apparently, according to the scene of the night prior to his death, Ray shows Harihar gasping for breath and requesting his wife for ‘Ganga’. Apparently, Ganga is the word for holy water from Ganges River. Thus, through this scene we see the piety of Harihar. At the same time, it shows the strong attachment between Sarbajaya and Harihar as Sarbajaya stays very close to him even to the point of death (Aparajito).
Apu is a person of strong will. I see this in his adamant refusal to join Hindu priesthoods after repeated attempts of the villagers attempt to initiate into it. Ideally, the motive is to have Apu take up after his father’s religion. Also, Sarbajaya is of an equally strong character. For instance, she decides to go with her son to the village where she does menial tasks to earn a living.
Mise-en-scene in Deepa Mehta Water
Mehta’s Water is a one-hour fifty-seven minute film released in 2005. Water is the third film in Mehta’s trilogy. The previous movies were Fire, released in 1997, and Earth, released in 1998 (Smith, 166). The film is set in 1938 in the holy city along the Ganges in India (Choonara par 6). In the film, Mehta sadly captures and retells the story of widows and their suffering in the Indian society. Indeed, according to Smith, the film represents the marginalization and ill-treatment of women in the Indian community.
According to statistics, India has over forty million widows. Apparently, the Indian traditional values reinforce the relegation of women to lower positions and status in favor of the males. Indeed, Deepa’s primary concern in the movie is the plight of women in the Indian society. Indeed, the production of this film was met with severe protest from Hindu fundamentalists owing to their perception of the movie as being socially unacceptable and an affront to their tradition (Smith, 166).
How Mehta uses mise-en-scene to tell the story
Mehta uses the Ganges River scene to depict the belief system surrounding the attitudes which society had on the Indian women. Indeed, this setting provides a vivid understanding of the circumstances surrounding various societal opinions towards women. Indeed, Mehta’s use of this stage setting helps to bring out the backdrop of the belief system surrounding the events of the movie in several scenes. Precisely, it challenges the practices and beliefs of the Hindus toward the widows. As well, Mehta uses beautiful shots of the various scenes to portray the life and experiences of the characters (Choonara par 15).
How Mehta uses mise-en-scene to set a mood
Mehta uses actual scenes of child molestation and wife battering to reveal the dismal situation of the female members of society. Mehta shows the violence against the women in real scenarios of battering and physical harm. Indeed, these scenes draw strong emotions of pity, sorrow, grief and pain. According to Choonara, Water is replete with motifs of the struggle of the oppressed to attain dignity and respect in society. As well, it involves themes of compassion and tragedy (Choonara par 4). Indeed, this motion picture serves to reveal the things presently happening in India. As well, it shows the things to come, such as, the rise of Indian fundamentalism coupled with intolerance for anything or anyone who treats its principles with skepticism (Choonara par 13).
The staging of Chuyia in the ashram, shows how desperate the situation is for the Indian widows. Chuyia’s forced marriage is a strong affront to the dignity of the girl-child. Incidentally, the death of Chuyia’s “husband” spelled trouble for her, as she has to go to the ashram, the home for the Hindu widows. Once in the ashrams, the women were expected to live a life of total seclusion from the society because the traditions could not permit them to re-marry. As such, they are left to beg for their living in the temples or to resort to prostitution.
How Mehta uses mise-en-scene to reveal the characters
Mehta uses personal accounts involving tragedies of women to picture the themes of the stories. Indeed, Mehta uses this style to depict the reality of the events it captures. Indeed, this use of mise-en-scene draws clear understanding of the central themes of the story.
The performance of Seema Biswas as the Bandit Queen is a powerful scene, which helps to reveal key personalities in the motive. Mehta shows how Biswas helped to fight for the release of Shakuntala from her pious solitude through her political and personal events. Indeed, this scene reveals the idea that small and seemingly insignificant efforts can bring change in society if one remains persistent. Thus, this scene shows how women in India can arise and challenge the present notions that disenfranchise them (Choonara par 9).
In summary, I believe that films have played a crucial role in influencing the society. Indeed, through them, the directors send various messages and reflections on reality. Certainly, the two movies, Aparajito and Water, capture the salient issues that affect the Indian community. Interestingly, continue to challenge, shape and modify conventional ideas in India in order to develop novel perspectives in the realization of a just society.
Aparajito (The Unvanquished). No author. 1999-2011. Life, Films, and Filmmaking of Satyajit Ray.org. Web. 1 April 2015.
Choonara, Esme. Water. 2007. Socialist Review. Web. 1 April, 2015.
Huda, Anwar. The Art and Science of Cinema. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Dist, 2004. Print.
Smith G. William. Socrates and Subtitles: A Philosopher's Guide to 95 Thought-Provoking Movies from Around the World. McFarland, NC: McFarland, 2010. Print.
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