What is mise-en-scène?

Mise-en-scène is a French term meaning literally 'to place on stage'.

A breakdown of the mise-en-scene elements in film.

In film and TV the term is used to refer to everything you can see on screen when watching a film.


Anything actors handle or use during a scene counts as a prop.

The BBC props store

The colour, style and state of props can all add extra meaning to a scene.

A cowboy’s handgun, an office worker’s stapler, a small child’s bicycle - any object we see in a scene is a prop.


The clothes worn by the performers on screen fall into this category.

A cyberman from Doctor Who getting into his costume

In a major film all the costumes may have been specifically designed for the production and tailor made for each actor.


In most films the make-up will be effectively invisible and will be used to cover mild blemishes or compensate for the effects of bright studio lights.

In other cases make-up may be used to alter the appearance of characters.

These alterations may be subtle and may involve simple changes to skin tone.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: An Unexpected journey

Characters playing elves in the fantasy film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) wore prosthetic ears.

In other cases the make-up may involve special effects appliances which change some aspect of a characters appearance.