Traditional conceptualisations of mise en scène invariably rest on the assumption that cinema is above all an art, rather than also a social discourse or a media form. And while subsequent approaches integrate a wider range of perspectives, little attention is nevertheless addressed to the elusive notion of mise en scène itself. In an attempt to grasp its conceptual remainder we can start rethinking mise en scène through an expressive tradition by addressing some of its entrenched problems. A decisive foundation is provided by the work of Raymond Bellour, where the emphasis from the scène and the baggage of classicism it entails, shifts to the foundational gesture of cinema itself, to the ‘putting in place’ of images. A conceptual reneval of this gesture and its expressive multitudes can enable us to expand the notion of mise en scène into dispositif, an arrangement of elements that constitute a particular cinematic form or style. And while a dispositif works in essence as a set of constraints, it is not a rigid formal system, but open to a diversity of authorial strategies, which we can observe throughout the history of cinema.

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