Tableau vivant (plural: tableaux vivants), French for ‘living picture’, is a style of artistic presentation, often shortened to simply tableau. It most often describes a group of suitably costumed actors, carefully posed and often theatrically lit.
mise-en-scène; this literally means ‘to put in the scene’ and refers to the process of setting a scene or a stage for a story to be enacted upon.
Watch this famous scene from Goodfellas directed by Martin Scorsese in 1990: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJEEVtqXdK8 [accessed 24/02/14]
• What does this scene tell you about the main character?
• How does it do this? List the ‘clues’.
The main character is a very influential man and is well known by those around him. He has lots of connections and commands special treatment. He is a wealthy man who rewards those that help him. He is Good looking and charming. He is respected and liked. He lies easily. He’s smarter and a quick thinker. He enjoys nice things and good entertainment. He is illusive and mysterious.
The clues that paint set the scene are:
- He doesn’t wait in line like all the other customers, he has his own entrance. The staff at the restaurant all know him and either have a part to play in his wellbeing or ‘look the other way’. He’s never challenged about his presence in the kitchen despite a long walk through domestic areas.
- He hands out $20 dollar bills to people who look after him. This is for things like, looking after his car, opening doors, getting him a table etc.
- On entry to the restaurant he is greeted by the owner/manager who has a table setup at the front immediately.
- He has an attractive woman on his arm who is bewildered by his lifestyle.
- The group of gentlemen at the table next to him all greet him by his name.
- The men on the next table have sent drinks to his table.
- His ‘lady’ questions how he can afford to give out $20 bills like sweets and asks ‘what do you do?’. He says he works in construction. When this is challenged he has a story ready.
- He wears nice clothes, looks good and drives a very nice car. His date couldn’t believe he would trust someone to look after it.
- The club is dark, the walls covered in red, with minimal lighting. Easy to slip in and out of.