Week 4’s Film Blog – Mise en Scène’s Actors of The Horse Whisperer

The Horse Whisperer

In this week’s film class blog, I will take you on a quick journey on a look at three actors from a movie and taking a look at their designation, or rather, the type of actor that they are.  The movie in which I have chosen to reflect upon this week is that of The Horse Whisperer.  Originally released in 1998, The Horse Whisperer starred Robert Redford as Tom Booker, Kristin Scott Thomas as Annie MacLean, and a very young Scarlett Johansson as Grace MacLean.  According to our textbook, actors are typically casted to certain roles based on previous movies and how they act (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2014).  For The Horse Whisperer, the main three stars in which I have decided to report upon will be the examples in which I will use for this blog.

Robert Redford, being the main actor in The Horse Whisperer, would be automatically listed as a star based on his broad appeal and instant recognition based on previous hit movies and roles.  Mr. Redford has proven throughout his entire career so far in his vast wide-acceptance and that he can become any character in which he portrays.  He can appear in range from westerns to action movies, from dramas to documentaries and so forth.  Robert Redford has also proved quite effective as both a film director and as a social environmentalist.  This type of both personal and public reflection can be seen in his acting, especially drawing upon his seemingly confidence on screen and behind the camera.

Kristin Scott Thomas, being both a mother in the movie as well as an interest in Redford’s character, would be classified as a personality actor due to her previous roles being placed in English type movies where the best of her accent can be drawn out and the fact that the roles in which she has played generally also characterizes her seemingly pure British behavior.  It is also quite possible that Ms. Thomas will be placed quite often in these types of related roles.  Kristin’s seriousness reflects on this in this movie, as well as a previous hit, The English Patient.

Scarlett Johansson, being the young girl in the movie who suffered from a near-tragic accident and has to deal with the aftermath with her horse, would be classified as a wild card actor.  She can play a part in many types of movies, whether it is a type of drama such as The Horse Whisperer, or a sci-fi movie such as Lucy, a comedy such as We Bought A Zoo, or an action-packed blockbuster such as The Avengers.  It is from these and other roles that have helped make Ms. Johansson as a wild card actor where her style can be unpredictable, yet very welcomed, for moviegoers.  Ms. Johansson has proved that she can become any type of character in which any movie might be asking for and has the label of not being stuck in any one type of character over and over.  However, Scarlett’s confidence and fiery attitude can be seen in her acting abilities, especially in this movie in which she tries to overcome both her physical and emotional scars, and that of her horse’s problems.


Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2014). Film: From watching to seeing (2nd ed.) [Electronic version]. Retrieved from                    https://content.ashford.edu/

Redford, R. (Director). (1998). The Horse Whisperer. [Motion picture]. United States: Touchstone Pictures.

Youtube. (2015, February 27). The Avengers – Black Widow Interrogation Scene (2012). [Video file]. Retrieved from                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dB4__mvTyL0

Youtube. (2012, April 3). The Horse Whisperer (1998). [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?                          v=0jmvqpet9_I

Youtube. (2010, October 18). The Horse Whisperer – Pilgrim and Grace (1998). [Video file].  Retrieved from                                       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI9zEsSFyJ8


Week 3 Mise en Scène – The sounds of Pearl Harbor

Tomy Dorsey playing on the radio.  Warm, gentle breezes blowing dreams into reality all around you.  Military personnel waking up, some already performing their duties, others relaxing and others thinking about what to wear for church while the sun is still rising.  Without warning, buzzing sounds can be heard from a distance, but nothing is thought about it until the sounds of explosions are rocking everyone into life, machine guns rattling the souls to action while bodies begin to burn.  It is the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live forever in infamy forever etched in history.  The Japanese have sprung a surprise attack on the Pacific Fleet headquartered at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.  You can now hear people screaming, the smells of ships burning, and confusion lapping at the soul’s edge of sanity.  The atmosphere is alive with the sounds of life being interrupted with you not knowing what is about to happen next.  Or do you?  You look around and realize that you are still sitting in your seat at the local movie theater watching the movie Pearl Harbor, deeply entrenched into the scenes being recreated from that historical day.  These are the sounds that helped this movie become alive with realism, being touched throughout its script with both non-diegetic music, or elements not heard by the characters in the movie, and diegetic music, or sounds that are directly involved within the movie’s world being heard by every character involved (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2014).

For the non-diegetic parts of the movie, the sounds which are played in the movie are to help give emotion to those very scenes in which the audience members are watching, giving them the truest sense of what it was like to have been alive during this turbulent time in history.  Whether the sounds are to give a wakeup call to urgency, the sounds of sadness and loss, the precious moments of love, or the struggles to which victory was forged from, every single non-diegetic sound made was to give a realistic view of what the greatest generation America has ever had come to life once more, as well as giving life to those characters once more from even the simplest sounds produced.  Without these ever important sounds which only the moviegoers could hear compared to the actors in the scene who did not, these scenes would not have had such an impact on the movie or the scene that captivates the audience if those sounds were not given properly.  This is one reason as to why the non-diegetic sounds were made vital to the movie, as well as even the diegetic sounds which ensured that each character reacted accordingly.

Even the movie’s soundtrack and related music videos help give emotion to various scenes, adding a sense of why this movie was a much needed film to watch.  Every piece of music, whether heard by the characters or by the audience alone, mesmerized the audience in reliving the struggles and losses faced, while helping to be a major part of the movie.

In closing, sound was a major part of the movie Pearl Harbor just as the actions of every actor and actress were as well.  If it were not for the proper use of realism, then the movie would not have seem so realistic, even though it is based on historical data from an infamous date in American history.  If this movie had been made differently, or even in an earlier period of Hollywood history, then the sounds of bouncing bullets may not have been heard, or if a certain score was omitted, then the dramatic feel of a particular scene would not have been as important.  Realism was a major factor in the creation of this movie, and both the directors and producers of this film wanted to ensure that Pearl Harbor was made as though the audience were taking a look through a window back into America’s past.  For the audience, history was being shown live.


Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2014). Film: From watching to seeing (2nd ed.) [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/

Youtube. (2007 March 21). Pearl Harbor attack scene – Pearl Harbor (unedited) movie clip (2001) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv1niwxQgoY

Youtube. (2010, March 14). Roosevelt’s cabinet speech – Pearl Harbor movie clip (2001) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFhY6IaUJ40

Youtube. (2012, September 1). Cook takes A.A. gun [HD] – Pearl Harbor  movie clip (2001) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AN9SP0y1lVA

Youtube. (2010, March 2). Pearl Harbor – Faith Hill – there you’ll be – Pearl Harbor music video clip (2001) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfswig0jpTQ

Youtube. (2008, March 9). Pearl Harbor ending scene – Pearl Harbor movie clip (2001) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfYD75GvdVs

Week 2’s Mise en scène – Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Sometimes what we think can become a life of its own.  Sometimes what we write can become a life of its own.  Sometimes life can imitate even our dreams.  One of the most recent modern human creations that have become a window into other worlds of lives, even into the depths of our very own souls, is that of the motion pictures that have captivated our mind’s attention for well over a century now.  One such important key that helps unlock the door to a world of imagination is that of how a camera is used to capture a film’s mood with its lighting, or in some cases, lack thereof.

For this second week’s blog post, one such film that uses the low-key approach to its lighting is that of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  Originally released in 1992, this film uses the low-light approach throughout the majority of its scenes as to create a realistic atmosphere of dread and corruption so as to have the audience feel as though they were witnesses first-hand to what was unfolding before their eyes.

 If, for some reason, the choice of using another lighting method was used rather than that of low-key, the mood for the film would have been altered and the affects in which the creators were seeking would have made this film less effective and quite possibly a movie made to be forgotten.  This is but reason why so many horror movies use this style of technique, so as to install a mood of dread and what lurks around the next corner.

To understand what Mise en scène truly  means is to simply see with more than your natural eyes on how every scene is laid out or setup for the screen’s magic before them.  As this class’s textbook authors mildly explained, Mise en scène is a way in which the storytellers of a film tells the tale without having to explain how certain scenes should actually feel simply by setting up various elements to let the moviegoer’s imagination roam free (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2014).  After all, if the right mood for a particular movie is not set up the intended way, then the outcome could seriously be perceived as something entirely different!


Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2014). Film: From watching to seeing (2nd ed.) [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/

Movie clips. (2009). Bram Stoker’s Official Trailer HQ– (1992) [Video File] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlDbxogHPao

Movie clips. (2013). Dracula: Dead and Loving It: Children of the Night – (1995) [Video File] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OafrvCNOow

Jay’s Ashford Amadeus Blog

Title:  Amadeus

Writer:  Peter Shaffer

Director:  Milos Forman

Major Stars:  F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Roy Dotrice, Jeffrey Jones

Year released:  1984

Some people have heard his name.  Some people have heard his music. However, how many people actually know the man behind the fame?  Travel back in history to a time where classical music and operas were the stars of queens, emperors, and where popes and royalty’s needs were hardly never denied.  In this film, claiming to have murdered the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the elderly composer, Antonio Salieri, confesses to a priest that he killed the greatest composer ever known.  Watch the humble beginnings of a rilvalry where Salieri was court composer when Mozart and he first met.  Through his own words, Salieri recounts how he first encountered a young Mozart thinking he was a gift of God, then later in years when Dalieri viewed Mozart as childish, arrogant, annoying, vulgar, yet brilliantly gifted while being simultaneously in awe of Mozart’s genius.  As his anger grows towards God in Him using this vulgar man as his instrument of salvation instead of himself, Salieri uses Mozart’s difficult relationship with his father and his guilt over being a bad son to drive him over the edge of exhausting madness and into a downward spiral of ill health that ultimately leads to Mozart’s death.

In this film, Amadeus is presented in a non-linear fashion in which, according to the authors Bill Goodykoontz and Christopher Jacobs, describes this type of visual storytelling as a a time-shifting tale that travels back and forth from the present to the past and back again in order to connect the audience into that frame of the movie (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2014).  This choice ultimately became the best choice to tell the tale of Mozart through that of Salieri, the man who admired and despised Mozart at the same time.  Through this style, audiences were instantly brought into the time where people only knew Mozart by either name or having heard bits of his work in the past.  This non-linear storytelling also greatly contributed to the acclamation of the audience into Mozart’s world because it helped introduce them to those who interacted with Mozart where many people never knew existed, or in some cases, were never remembered by history itself.  The non-linear way of showing this movie was also quite important because if the chronological facts of Mozart’s life were told from the time of his birth to that of his death in subsequent order, then the means of Mozart’s musical genius would have been wasted on possible plot boredom to those in the audience whose attention span may not have been captured fully.


Amadeus movie trailer. (1984). Amadeus [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qikgX4rlG4

Forman, M. (Director). Shaffer, P. (Writer). (1984). Amadeus. [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Bros.

Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (2014). Film: From watching to seeing (2nd ed.) [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu/