Natural Born Killers - Prison Escape Sequence

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Discuss the ‘Prison Escape’ Sequence from Natural Born Killers in Terms of Mise en Scène and Cinematography.

Natural Born Killers is directed by Oliver Stone, and is based on a screenplay by Quentin Tarantino. The film has an alternative narrative, breaking and experimenting with conventional cinematic codes. This helps to highlight the stupidity and irony of the media making ‘heroes’ out of serial killers. It is a satire on violence and its role in the media. The ‘Prison Escape’ sequence is a perfect example to show how Stone uses a wide variation of camera shots and incorporates unconventional features and ideas into his work.

The majority of the sequence is filmed using a hand-held camera. This has many uses: including making parts of the film like a documentary, continuing the link to the media. The use of black and white filming is also suggestive towards this, making the film more like real life.

The hand-held creates an atmosphere of chaos and confusion in relation to both the criminals and the Prison Warden (Dwight McClusky). The criminals, Mallory and Mickey Knox are fairly care-free as they continue their killing-spree, but they still have to plan their actions and make decisions, if they are to continue or end in way that they wish to. In the complex building of the prison there are many corridors, corners and doorways for the prisoners to choose from, and they have very little time to do so.

The Warden Dwight McClusky is in much the same position, but with opposite motives. He also has to make many speedy decisions which are all heavily affected by his passionate anger towards Mallory and Mickey. Dwight McClusky, like nearly all the other prisoners and officers present, is acting totally irrationally because of the suddenness and scale of events. The...