Alexandre Astruc, “What is Mise-en-scène?” Cahiers du Cinéma: The 1950s: Neo-Realism, Hollywood, New Wave,” ed. Jim Hillier. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985: 266-268.
Astruc’s essay is concerned with aesthetic creation and gives a rather unorthodox answer to his titular question. Mise-en-scène is “a certain way of extending states of mind into movements of the body. It is a song, a rhythm, a dance” (267). He goes on later to say that it is “a means of making the spectacle one’s own–but then what artist doesn’t know that what is seen matters less, not than the way of seeing, but than a particular way of needing to see and to show” (268). This is anything but specific, with little or no correlation to mise-en-scène as we have come to know it, i.e., the “stuff” that populates the screen, anything but the human beings or characters. Astruc turns it into something very much about the characters and their bodily movement, indeed, about the space between the character and the audience that is generated by the character’s movement.