Talk to Her (Almodovar, 2002)

This is an A-level essay about Almodovar’s Talk to Her and how mise-en-scene reflects key themes and ideas. Marked at 27/30 (A*). Contains spoilers and implied knowledge about the film.

Discuss the importance of mise-en-scene in relation to key themes and ideas in Talk to Her. [30]

Some of the key themes and ideas in Talk to Her (Almodovar, 2002) are portrayed through the mise-en-scene, such as the theme of relationships and emotional attachments, as well as the idea of moral standpoints.

For example in multiple scenes set in Alicia’s hospital room the lava lamps, colour of the wall, paintings and other objects have been chosen to mirror her bedroom at home. This is implied as being Benigno’s doing as we later see him intrude into her bedroom after a visit with Alicia’s father. The significance of Benigno’s mirroring the hospital room with Alicia’s bedroom implies a strong devotion and intent to make her feel as at home as possible. The lava lamps also play the role of portraying the separation, bonding and changing of relationships throughout the film, as seen in one shot, as a lava lamp in filmed solely on screen for a few seconds whilst one bubble becomes two, representing the braking or separation of a relationship after a significant scene in the film (Marco finding out Lydia intended to get back with El Nino). As well as this, in the majority of the shots of Alicia in bed they are angled so there is one or both of the lava lamps in shot. These could therefore represent Alicia’s body, as the inside is moving and alive whilst the outside lay still, relating to the theme of illness within the film. Furthermore, another shot of the lava lamp is seen around the time of Alicia’s rape, as it resembles the famous shot of a needle piercing an egg, and therefore implies and represents the impregnation of Alicia during the rape.

Another way in which distanced/broken relationships are shown is through proxemics, in the theatre scene at the end the mise-en-scene of surrounding people and an empty seat separating Marco and Alicia represents the distance in their relationship, as Marco is aware of the whole situation whilst Alicia has no idea who Marco is. Similarly when Lydia intends to break up with Marco before the bullfight, during the argument in the car a handbag separates them, conveying the growing distance in their relationship. Similarly in the opening car journey between the two of them, Lydia’s handbag once again separates them, conveying the distance between them physically and emotionally before their relationship. This perhaps implies a degree of opposition between them, perhaps suggesting their relationship was inevitably doomed perhaps because Lydia always intended to use Marco in order to get back at El Nino.

Another example of the use of mise-en-scene, is that on Benigno’s family. A shot of him on the phone shows a picture of his mother, who we know already he held a very close relationship with, hanging form the wall. This is significant because Benigno’s father has clearly been cut out, the picture being taken from their wedding day. This implies a degree of dislike/favouritism from Benigno towards his two parents. Similarly a shot of Marco’s apartment helps the audience better understand his character, with a huge picture of the globe, indicating to the audience early on that Marco is a travelling journalist.

Overall, throughout the film, mise-en-scene is used by the Auteur to convey the changing relationships between characters, but also to imply what is happening as well as creating deeper character profiles for the audience to read into.




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