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From IMDb plot summary :

Romantic comedy set in London in the late 16th century: Young playwright William Shakespeare struggles with his latest work "Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter". A great fan of Shakespeare's plays is young, wealthy Viola who is about to be married to the cold-hearted Lord Wessex, but constantly dreams of becoming an actress. Women were not allowed to act on stage at that time (female roles were played by men, too), but dressed up as a boy, Viola successfully auditions for the part of Romeo. Soon she and William are caught in a forbidden romance that provides rich inspiration for his play. (For more, see Wikipedia.)

Discussion questions

How does mise-en-scene help to communicate the story in this short scene from Shakespeare in Love (John Madden, 1998)? (See video clip.) Or, in other words, how does mise-en-scene function to help build the characters and construct the narrative?

  1. G2: What narrative functions does the set design by Jill Quertier serve?
    • What does the textbook mean by the term "iconography"?
  2. G3: What narrative functions does the lighting design by Richard Greatrex serve?
    • Does it use three-point lighting (explain what three-point lighting is)?
    • Is it high key or low key?
  3. G4: What narrative functions does the "blocking" by John Madden serve?
    • What is "deep space blocking" and does Shakespeare in Love use it in this scene?
  4. G1 and G5: What narrative functions does the costume design by Sandy Powell serve?


  1. Jeremy G. Butler, Television: Visual Storytelling and Screen Culture, 5th ed. (New York: Routledge, 2018).
  2. David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007).

External links

  1. Television Illustrations
  2. Mise-en-scene Illustrations
  3. Shakespeare in Love video clip, password: tcf123abc!
  4. Shot Logger: frames from every shot in Shakespeare in Love