Through time, scholars have analyzed cinema from a national perspective. They try to examine the film text and cinematic genres while establishing the basis of the film, particularly from a national viewpoint. What has more focus in this determination are the things that have been coded into films. These may be the film setting, language, costume, music, theme, décor, historical figures, and elements of culture that have been showcased in the film. With that, the film financiers’ country of origin is vital in this analysis. More often, their nationality, country of schooling, and training of the casting crew and the casting team is a vital aspect of consideration. These elements highly determine the films’ national theme. However, scholars have highly criticized this aspect of cinemas. Hayward, one of the scholars, argued that categorizing cinemas by their ‘national’ distinguishes cinemas from different nations based on certain characteristics that they exhibit. He fortified this by saying that it makes it easier for a viewer to identify cinemas that originated from a particular country; for example, the one that sprouts from Hollywood in the United States is easily identified (Hayward, 2005). This approach has been popular for some time since most of the pressure comes from political and economic forces, which are the powers behind production of certain films. However, with the test of time, it is slowly fading away. Currently, the film production industry is expanding its horizon. It is adopting a transnational font, which seeks to eliminate the ‘national’ approach that highlights only certain cultural aspects that are only dominant to the films’ areas of origin.
Weber-Feve, a scholar, argues that in the 1990s, the film industry took a new turn. The scholar says that the ‘national’ approach was perceived as being reductionist and “built on a paradigm of exclusion” (Weber-Feve, 2010). It is therefore important that a film’s base on nationality is not easy to determine. This means that the casting team, filmmakers and financers should be of international origin. The film text also should not easily be decoded and traced to a particular origin. In similar lines, Tarr, another scholar, explained that it is “necessary to take up a transnational view, which exhibits an international font from how the films are produced, circulated and received in the era of globalization” (Tarr, 2007). In other words, the transnational cinemas aim at constructing a multicultural facet and to decentralize the nation’s approach of cinema production. It pushes for international collaboration in terms of the production crew, cast and financers amongst other groups involved in films production. In brief, according to Vijay Devadas, transnational cinema can be defined as
“cinema made by displaced filmmakers living in exile or diaspora; used as a mode of expressing the interstitial and artisanal modes of production, distribution, and consumption; marked by the use of hybrid stylistic forms, patterns of identification, and ideological concerns; and defined by the affirmation of difference” (2006).
Self-reflexivity is a term used in a similar way as self-conscience in cinema art. According to William Siska, it means “Consciousness turning back to itself” (1980). In that sense, Siska explains that “reflexive art cinemas refer to films that call attention on themselves as cinematic constructs” (285). It is a way of funneling attention to itself and welcoming viewers to examine it critically. Reflexive art cinema is, therefore, generally an attention-seeking mechanism. Not so many movies or cinema arts can wholly be categorized as reflexive. However, most of them exhibit certain components of reflexivity. This is explicit, for example, in works of fiction, which more often tend to repeatedly refer to actions within themselves. Well put, such films can be termed as self-conscious films.
Mise-en-scene is a French term that literally means ‘to put something in the scene’. In films, it has a broader perspective. Robert Kolker defined it as “the articulation of cinematic space” (Kolker, n.d). It more or less defines what happens within the borders of the film screen. In effect, this paper will discuss the different constructions of mise-en-scene in art cinema and in realistic cinema. The key aspects of mise-en-scene are set design, lighting, space and acting. Nonetheless, these elements are differently applied while staging an art cinema or a realistic cinema. A realistic cinema is meant to capture the tragedies and triumphs that human beings go about in their everyday life. This is the opposite of art cinema films. As a result, while constructing the mise-en-scene of a realistic film, it is important to help viewers to connect with or make speculations about what may happen next in the movie. For example, by using an actor who is not well trained and shooting the film on a common street, it makes the viewers to connect easily with the film. This is because the actor will more easily show humanistic body language that the average person can relate to. On the contrary, while constructing the mise-en-scene for art cinema, more creativity that is not experienced in everyday life can be used to bring out the imaginative ability of the filmmakers.