Setting the Scene

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.

BRIEF:
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.

 

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