The Butler Mise-En-Scene Analysis

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Janus Dichromatic: Race-driven Personas in Lee Daniels’ The Butler Lee Daniels’ The Butler is a historical drama focused on the American civil rights movement, told through the perspective of a White House butler, Cecil Gaines. Cecil is the son of a cotton farmer who eventually works his way to butler to the White House. Serving eight presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan, Cecil actively witnesses the turbulent social and political changes the occurred in America during the Civil Rights Movement. This unique film spans eight decades and depicts an array of characters and eras, which shows the amount of energy required to successfully use mise-en-scene to recreate the past. Mise-en-scene in The Butler is effectively used to depict…show more content…
Cecil finds it difficult to adapt to life outside the plantation and is on a desperate search to find himself as well as the necessities to survive. The set consists of rain pouring down as Cecil finds himself on the street staring into the window of a bakery shop. Props used in this scene consist mainly of deliciously presented desserts, particularly a chocolate cake and vanilla cake in the centre of the closed bakery’s window. The use of low key lighting in this scene portrays the sadness Cecil is feeling internally, and symbolizes the darkness in his life following the death of his father and rape of his mother. The use of mise-en-scene helps to set a deeply emotional and serious tone for the rest of the…show more content…
These two scenes are cleverly juxtaposed jumping back and forth between the two settings to express the contrast in lifestyle the father and son have. The contrast between Louis’ desire for social change and Cecil’s desire merely to exist in a white man’s world shows the different kinds of attitudes people had during the Civil Rights Movement. The majority of people, like Cecil, lived in fear of speaking up for what they believed in, and the minority chose to socially rebel, like Louis, pushing the boundaries of social norms and exercising their human right for equality even though punishment was a likely outcome. This film uses real archival footage of the Birmingham bus explosions executed by the Klu Klux Klan to inflict deep emotion also because it gives the viewers a more realistic sense of the hate that existed at a terrible time in America’s

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