ARTICLE: Mise en Scène and the Decisive Moment of Visual Legal Rhetoric

February 11, 2020

The French phrase “mise en scene” translates to

a: the arrangement of actors and scenery on a stage for a theatrical production
b : stage setting
2a : the physical setting of an action (as of a narrative or a motion picture) : context
In this important article, Professor Michael Murray uses the 15 elements of mise en scene to explain and explore “principles that define how visual rhetorical works fulfill the task of effective visual communication and advocacy.”
The 15 elements are:
the dominant, lighting key, shot type, camera angle, color values, lens-filter film stock, subsidiary contrasts, density, composition, form, framing, depth of field, character placement, staging positions, and character proxemics.
Murray removes those that are particular to film, and takes the reader through the trial-persuasion factors.
Lawyers need to learn, and trial advocacy instructors need to teach, “visual rh