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2001: A Space Odyssey

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Intro to Cinema

Mise En Scene


Grade - 98%

703 words

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001 makes heavy use of mise en scene to tell its story. The set design, lighting, spacing, costumes, and acting work together to convey the major elements of the story with minimal assistance provided by the dialogue. Moods are established, states of mind are revealed and the narrative is advanced mostly through visual effects - color schemes, symbolism, dress, body language, actions, set designs and scale.

The film starts out eons ago in Africa during "The Dawn of Man". A tribe of timid ape men live precariously in a barren landscape, and they struggle daily to avoid extinction. As the sun rises one day, the ape men first encounter the humming black monolith. It's a shocking sight to the ape men: a precisely shaped figure that's unique in an environment of jagged, irregular objects.

Even the ape men recognize that this monolith could only have been created by a higher form of intelligence. The monolith inspires one of the ape men to discover man's first tool - an animal bone that can be used as a weapon to kill other animals. Now the primitive ape men can survive, prosper and eventually evolve into modern man. They use tools to fight and over time they discover other tools as well. Man learns how to take control of his environment.

From the most basic tool, a club, to a shuttle rocket drifting through space, we see the evolution of man. Man might be a master on earth but he is an infant in space. He is totally dependent on his tools for basic survival. Without gravity man is learning to walk again with shoes that grip the floor, learning to eat again by feeding himself baby food through straws and learning how to use the toilet again in a zero gravity environment.

On the voyage to Jupiter we meet HAL 9000. HAL is the ultimate tool. He is the brains of the space ship. Man is now merely a maintenance worker, keeping the space ship in running condition. Man is again on the brink of extinction. He is no longer needed, he has created a tool that can replace him.

The mise en scene conveys how man has become a slave to his tools. The scale and design of spacecraft are dictated by the necessities of the machines. They dwarf man in size and importance. Cold lighting on space ships contribute to the sense than



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