Raiders of the Lost Ark contains examples of the five aspects of movies that we have reviewed in class. Raiders of the Lost Ark is an action adventure about a group of archaeologists, including Indiana Jones, who are tasked by the United States government to find the Ark of the Covenant before a team of Nazi’s can beat them to the relic. Jones and his group run into obstacles such as a fear of snakes and running into an ex-girlfriend which made accomplishing their goal that much more difficult. As I watched this movie, multiple themes came to mind. The first was Indiana Jones having to undergo a transformation to accomplish the task he has been assigned. In this movie, Jones must show that he puts his past self aside to demonstrate that he is a changed man who can lead this group. mise-en-scene and cinematography are used to help prove the theme that Jones has undergone this transformation. mise-en-scene is defined as a film’s visual theme and how the actors and characters are arranged in a scene to visually present information while cinematography is shown through the continuous motion of the camera in different views throughout the film. Both aspects help the viewer understand the theme better by seeing what is on the screen as opposed to only listening to what the characters are saying.
Raiders of the Lost Ark contains examples of Cinematography in the film’s opening sequences and also later in the film. As Indiana Jones is going through the jungle, he sees a face of a temple that is covered by vines. As he approaches the “face”, we see a tilted camera view where we see an image of Jones from a view which represents the temple’s perspective. Including Jones, we can see everything that is in front of the temple’s face. Once Jones removes the vines off the face, he is instantly scared off. This camera angle can be extremely effective because it can show another character such as Indiana Jones from afar and it also shows the view of the temple from its perspective. Another example of Cinematography is when a hole in the ark has a light shining through it. To focus the attention of the viewer, there is a ray of light which the viewer follows until the ray is stopped. This helps shape the audience’s attention to a location where the film’s creator wants to direct the viewer. In addition to being on the ark, another example of Cinematography is shown. In this scene, the face of Indiana Jones frequently appears in a close-up fashion. In the ark scene, the audience then focuses on the eyes of Indiana Jones because it shows what he could be looking at. Often close ups are important because we can first see what the character could be looking at and we can sense the emotions that the character is going through in a given scene. Another common aspect of cinematography is a pan camera angle. A pan camera angle is where a camera follows a moving object. This appears in a scene where Indiana Jones is driving a truck and while he is driving and throwing people off, the camera is keeping pace with the truck. This helps the audience keep up with the action on the truck while the camera or viewer follows along in real time. In Raiders of the Lost Ark helps focus the viewer’s eyes on the important parts of the scene instead of the viewer veering off and looking at less important parts. These aspects of Cinematography are similar to mise-en-scene because the viewer can sense and draw conclusions about what is happening on the screen by seeing instead of just hearing what is being presented.
Not only is sound characterization used within Raider of the Lost Ark, but mise-en-scene is also used to show everything being presented. An aspect of mise-en-scene is how visuals appear on the screen and why they are placed the way that they are. For example, mise-en-scene is used in one of the opening sequences when Indiana Jones is attempting to obtain the golden idol relic by replacing it with a bag of similar weighted sand. When viewing this scene, the relic is brightly lit which also illuminates Jones’s face. The lit relic was placed on the screen where it was because also helped to attract the viewer’s attention to Jones’s face which seems to express a feeling of accomplishment. Another example of mise-en-scene is the clothing that Jones wears. for much of the film, Indiana Jones is dressed in jeans which is complimented with a cowboy hat. He also carries a gun and a rope. In another part of the film, Jones is in a classroom setting working as a professor. The audience can obviously tell that he is wearing different clothing. When he is in the classroom as a professor he is dressed in suit and tie and is wearing glasses. This returns to the original theme that Jones undergoes a transformation like his going from teaching in a classroom setting wearing formal clothing to another where he becomes someone who enjoys adventure and wears clothing appropriate for someone embarking on a wilderness adventure. In another scene when Jones’s crew is digging up the relic, a red sunset appears behind the men. The red and black silhouette symbolizes the passage of time and the hard work that is being performed. After this scene, another scene where a dark blue sky with a storm in the background appears. I view the dark blue sky as a sign that something potentially bad is about to happen. These two scenes stood out to me because the film transitioned from a red background scene to a dark blue background in a matter of seconds. In mise-en-scene, color is extremely important because it can express the mood of a scene and the use of one color can change its meaning as opposed to the use of a different color. In films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, mise-en-scene plays a part into one’s understanding although this is communicated by sight instead of what is spoken or heard. Lighting and costumes/clothing techniques also help the viewer understand the characters and who they are. Using your eyes instead of your ears is instrumental to mise-en-scene. Being able to view the features and quality of the story’s characters and their surroundings will often help enhance the viewer’s understanding of a scene and express meaning in a way beyond what can be communicated by a verbal means.
Cinematography and mise-en-scene are very similar and help the viewer understand a film’s story. The film’s creator’s intentionally positions characters and other props in certain ways and in certain places so that they provide additional meaning. Both elements also help reiterate the theme and subject of the movie. As I watched this movie, multiple themes came to mind. The first was Indiana Jones had to undergo a transformation to accomplish the task that he had been assigned. In this film, Jones must show that he can put his past self aside and show that he is a changed man who can lead this group. As the movie unfolds this theme is expressed through mise-en-scene and cinematography to help establish the theme that Jones has successfully undergone this transformation.