Mise en scène analysis


Howl himself is the dominant in this scene, the largest of the two active bodies in the animation with Calcifer just a bit more offset from the center. Everything in his surroundings sets the mood of the shot, acting as background images; even the other character acts as more than a body by being a light source. Howl is the target of the light, it’s source surrounded by darker shades and stone.

The lighting is low key, the one source of light in the room being Calcifer barely illuminating his surroundings. The room itself is entirely shadowed with the light from Calcifer causing Howl’s chair to cast a shadow as well; Howl’s shadow from the Calcifer’s light is only on his back, not on the floor. serves the solemn nature of the scene, reflected in the conversation between the two characters on the subject of now cursed wizards.

Calcifer is level with the core of Howl with his eyeline passing through his chest, perhaps testament to Calcifer’s role as the keeper of Howl’s heart; the two are separate yet still connected, reflected in the mirrored position.

Full shot of two characters facing one another, both bodies fully within frame. Eye level shot. Grants significance to Calcifer despite his smaller size by placing him where Howl’s core is; we see them seeing eye to eye regardless of size difference.

In discussing the color of this particular shot/scene, it is important to note that Howl had just seconds before undergone a change in color. In this prior form, bird-wizard Howl sitting in the same position, portrays a color scheme of grey and blue, the background of the shot matching near perfectly. In this form directly following it, his outfit matches to what the house was earlier in the day, still suiting the interior of the Castle but to no great degree in it’s current darkened state and rather a scuffed up version of how viewers were introduced to the character. Color is one of the more significant points to note in animated works, moving pieces of the animation inherently brighter and attention grabbing, and so the orange fire and lighter browns and grays of Howl exert power over their dim surroundings.

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One thought on “Mise en scène analysis

  1. Kevin L. Ferguson

    Great observation about Howl’s shadow–the animators have paid attention to having shadows, but haven’t made the shadows hyper-realistic. Instead, they’ve emphasized the salient details and made choices about how to do so semi-realistically. I think that also connects to what you said about the shifting colors, and how those colors change to reflect various moods or states of mind.

    If you revise this, you might be more methodical about each of the aspects of mise-en-scene. I had to keep looking at the checklist to make sure you were getting to everything (and had to make some interpretations when I couldn’t figure it out, like what the form and framing was). Even though I only wanted you to analyze a few of the aspects, I did want you to initially discuss each one.