The chapters on mise-en-scene ends with the statement, “one does not light the set and then set about deciding where the camera is going to be placed. Rather, a set is lit with the framing and movement of the camera absolutely in mind,” (Course reader pg 45).  Though Thomas Vinterberg’s 1998 film The Celebration is aesthetically plain to the untrained eye, but the specific positioning of natural lighting, camera angles, blocking of characters and use of props pulls the viewer into the world of the film.  The constant use of canted, or tilted, angles throughout the film carries the connotation of imbalance, transition and instability, a theme that is echoed in the dialogue on the screen.  Vinterberg also uses low angles, which carries the connotation of powerlessness.  Because dialogue is not an aspect of mise-en-scene, the use of these frames heightens the audience’s connection to the characters within the film.  As Vinterberg is a member of the Dogme 95 movement, which believed that “the movie is not illusion!” and “the ‘supreme’ task for the decadent film-maker is to fool the audience.”   In The Celebration Vinterberg purposely lit his set with the framing and movement of the camera absolutely in mind as to fool his audience into the reality of the film.

The scene where Helge and the small boy go to get the guests for dinner begins with Helge and the boy running in the yard.  The scene is blurry; the audience cannot distinguish who is in the scene.  The blurriness of the shot represents the actualization of a memory. The stored information from a specific time or place is never as the moment actually was.  Humans distort and perceive everything as they are, as they know the world to be.  Events that are hard to process will become blocked from memory or appear blurry, like the scene.  The scene then cuts to a clear close-up, canted angle shot of the child’s face.  He is very happy.  His face dominates the frame as he enters into the hallway.  Yet the audience is drawn to notice Helge’s hand on the doorknob hovering in the background of the shot.  The shot then pans upward, becoming a low angle shot of Helge’s face.  There is nothing but whiteness behind him.  As already established, the connotation of canted and low angles create the feelings of imbalance, transition, instability, and powerlessness; themes felt throughout the childhood of Christian and his dead sister about their father.  With the use of these angles in association with Helge and the small child cues the audience to notice that something is not right.  At this point in the film, it has not been announced that Helge has harmed his children.  The shots make the audience feel an imbalance though they do not know why, similar to the feelings of young Christian when being abused.  For the first time in the film, Vinterberg sparks an emotional response in the audience that the film is not an illusion, that the feelings held by the characters within the film are real.  He has begun to fool the audience.

The low angle, canted shots are transferred from this point in the film to Christian.  As he deals with the events of his memory, the emotional response from the audience to the framing of the characters through the juxtaposition of canted, unstable, and low, powerless, angles forces the audience to feel Christian’s mental state. The mise-en-scene reinforces the lack of power Christian and his dead sister have compared to their father.

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