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Mise-en-scene in Far from Heaven by Todd Haynes

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Mise-en-scene in Far from Heaven by Todd Haynes essay
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In “Far From Heaven”, Todd Haynes portrays what is going through the lives of his cast by showing the surface of things through the technique of mise- en- scene because there was no language in which the characters could talk about their problems amongst each other. Haynes mainly displays the technique of mise- en- scene through his very detailed settings and architecture to display the different messages throughout the film.

He expressed racial and sexual wrongdoings enfolded in a mise- en- scene that creates settings that look like they were influenced by vintage 1950s magazines with a hint of inspiration from high socialite news press pages. For example, the opening scene of the film seems to be in a setting that is from the home magazines of a 1950s fairy tale lifestyle that rejoices the radiant uptown and household shine that illuminates on a daily basis. The setting in this film portrays Utopian like communities through the technique of mise- en- scene that is a way of telling the viewers that communities and society can never be perfect. The emergence of Frank’s adultery to his wife Cathy proves that these households were not faultless, and his homosexuality was far from perfect in the eyes of several of his fellow socialites. Another example of the mise- en- scene settings can be the homes that are meant to be safe places but seem to be closed in jails instead. The frame of a doorway, the confines of walls, and even an open space seem to cage in Cathy which is telling the audience that she is desperately crying out for help even though she is trying to portray stability in her social life.

There was the use of specific architecture in “Far From Heaven” to show the viewers what was really happening inside everyone’s world. There was a lot of changing the levels of flooring in many scenes. For example, there were scenes were Cathy would be shown on lower leveled flooring that can be seen as her being oppressed and in a low place in her life because her marriage was crumbling, and she still had to pretend to be the lovable and perfect trophy wife everyone expected her to be. When Cathy was seen on higher leveled flooring she was usually in a better place where she was trying to work on her problems that can be displayed as her being heroic. The scenes that had a lot of brick walls and railings in the background expressed senses of enclosure and falling downhill for not only Cathy but also other characters such as her husband who was trying to dismiss his temptations that would not allow him to be heterosexual and faithful to his wife. The architecture in this film was a device that displayed all the emotions the characters could not show themselves to the audience.

Haynes want to show his viewers that he understands how women like Cathy of the 1950s extremely suffered because there was no way for them to hide their identity as a women, so they had no choice but to withstand the pressures that came with their roles in society.

“Far From Heaven” by Haynes is a pastiche of “All That Heaven Allows” by Sirk because it resembles it, yet it has some discrepancies and distortions. Haynes sets his film in the 1950s and uses the ability of color to emphasis emotional strength to expose the perfect family as the not so perfect one just as Sirk previously did.

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Mise-en-Scene in Far From Heaven by Todd Haynes. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 26, 2022, from
“Mise-en-Scene in Far From Heaven by Todd Haynes.” GradesFixer, 10 Apr. 2019,
Mise-en-Scene in Far From Heaven by Todd Haynes. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 26 Jan. 2022].
Mise-en-Scene in Far From Heaven by Todd Haynes [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 10 [cited 2022 Jan 26]. Available from:
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