Try to pause the scenes of a drama. What do you see on screen besides the actors? First of all, you can see the background, props, actors’ hair styles, position, clothes and the actor’s facial expression quite clearly. All of these scenes are constructed down to the finest detail by the director, not made naturally. Thus, the placement of the internal elements within the frame of the camera are called ‘mise-en-scène’. In this article, I will introduce the drama ‘Hannibal’ for readers and help them get to know how to recognize mise-en-scène. ‘Hannibal’ is a psychological drama about Hannibal who is a cool-headed, expert in very field psychiatrist, cannibal serial killer Along with Hannibal is Will Graham, an FBI profiler with a superior sense of empathy for psychopaths.< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >
Hannibal enjoys killing and eats human flesh. Hannibal has a lot of friends but there’s no one who truly empathizes with and understands his true self. Therefore, he thinks that only Will Graham can understand him and masterminds various scenarios to get closer to him. Will Graham, who is haunted by personal demons on account of his excessive empathy, starts to suffer from becoming too emotionally caught up by the criminals he is pursuing and even starts to identify with the muderers. That is, he gets confused about himself seeming to enjoy murder as well.
Next, let’s know about props of the drama and the meanings.
Will has a fluid personality. Water changes shape depending on which bowl it is placed in. Also, Will can be good or bad person depending on which person he has empathy for.
There are the two paintings on the wall of Hannibal’s office. The first painting is called the picture of ‘Vincenz Czerny Operation’. The title is based on the name of doctor who gained fame for his pioneering and radical medical techniques. Through the person portrayed in this painting, we can see a possible a role model who influenced Hannibal’s relationship with the practice of medicine. The second painting is called ‘Coriolanus’, which signifies pursuing personal honor and a high sense of self-love. Also, it is a story about Coriolanus, who made himself a prison. This is also true for Hannibal. The statue of a perforated horse in Hannibal’s office is yet another symbol we can find, this one signaling Will being destroyed and alluding to the dialogue of ‘the broken pony’.
A calm hair style that covers his entire forehead means that he's hiding his true self. He is shown as an excellent doctor as opposed to a serial killer. But a slicked-back hair style, when he turns head back means he is his true self.
You can see their participation in the conversation by their posture while sitting. This contrasts with the Counseling scenes of Franklyn and Hannibal with Will and Hannibal. Franklyn, who sits forward can be seen as having an active attitude in the conversation, and Hannibal, who sits with his back on a chair has a little bit of a businesslike attitude. In contrast, When Hannibal counsels Will, he sits forward to show his active attitude and it’s Will who sits with his back on a chair.
‘Hannibal’ is not just a simple detective drama. The murder case contained within the story is just motive to continue the relationship between the two main characters. The main story is about psychological warfare. In this complex and deep drama, mise-en-scène plays a key role in the meticulously constructed interactions of the characters. The actor’s subtle gesture can be an important clue. So, directors consider everything from dialogue to lighting with their whole heart and soul. In the future, think of directors’ noble effort, look at all sides and analyze the scene not only with simple dialogue and action, but with props and background’s meaning. Maybe we are only understanding and seeing only 50% of total image.