Books and Movies Reviews

Mise En Scene in Manhattan

This past week I watched Woody Allen's Manhattan and was blown away from his full use of the frame throughout the movie.This may be a bit of a biased view since I am a fan of nearly every movie Woody has made, but watching this movie with special attention to mise en scene made me feel reaffirmed on what a great filmmaker I think he is.I had read in the book, "Woody Allen on Woody Allen" that there is a clause in the studio’s contract that says that this film must always be shown in letterbox format in any home video or broadcast.Having read this, it was obvious that he did not want anything cut from the picture and he was going to be using the full frame.IMDB.com states that this is hisfirst and, to date, only film shot using the 2.35:1 anamorphic Panavision process.
This movie is shot entirely in black and white.This combined with Gershwin;s score gives New York a fairytale-like quality in the film.Manhattan itself becomes a character in the movie.The title of the movie is taken off of a street sign that blinks ;Manhattan; as we arefirst brought into the movie with Isaac;s monologue over shots with no actors, just location shots further establishing New York City as a character.Several outdoor scenes are shot from long distance causing the actors to be seen really small on the screen and allowing the city itself to fill the frame.In many of these scenes, the characters themselves aren;t even centered in the frame, leaving the city to be the dominant thing our eyes are attracted to.In the scene where Isaac (Woody Allen) and Mary (Diane Keaton) are sitting on the park bench after walking and talking throughout the city, we see the two of them staged on the bench on the far right corner of the screen, in front of the 58th St. Bridge.The bridge is in the center of the frame and we also see that it is dawn and they have been up walking and talking all night.We have th…

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