(500) addresses the main theme dealing with those small

(500) Days of Summer (2009) is a movie where Tom
(Gordon Levitt) falls in love with Summer (Zooey Deschanel) but things do not
go quite according to the romantic dream he has in mind.


The film is told through its first protagonist Tom’s
perspective. Tom believes in the concept of soul mates. Unfortunately for Tom,
Summer sees true love as fairy tales, and is not looking for romance. Not only
that, the breaking of gender stereotype characterization is also clearly portrayed
in both Tom and Summer’s character.

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This movie does not play out chronologically, but
instead jumps back and forth through time using flash back (Giannetti
& Leach, 2008). (500) Days of Summer addresses the main theme dealing with
those small but significant moments between two people and taking a risk at
love when uncertainty remains.


Mise en scène

Mise en scène encompasses the most recognizable attributes of a film like the setting
and the actors, which includes costumes and make-up, props, and all the other
natural and artificial details that characterize the spaces filmed. Therefore,
in (500) Days of Summer, there are many elements of Mise en scène shown in the movie in many perspectives that an
individual can study.


Mise en scène is a French term that means, “placing on stage” (Gabe, 2014). In cinema, placing on the stage literally means placing on the screen, and usually a director would
be in charge of deciding what goes where, when, and how. The frame and
camerawork are also considered part of the Mise en scène of
a movie.


Furthermore, Mise en scène is formed by all the elements that appear “within a shot itself, as opposed to the effects created by cutting.”
In other words, if a physical object recorded by the camera is on the screen,
then it is considered as part of the Mise en scène.


Settings, Lighting, Blocking, Facial Expressions and
Body Language

Setting creates both a sense of place
and a mood and it may also reflect a character’s emotional state of mind. 
It can be entirely fabricated within a studio – either as an authentic
re-construction of reality or as a whimsical fiction – but it may also be found
and filmed on-location.


Blocking is also another term used in
filmic study. The meaningful arrangement of the actors on the set is called
blocking. Most of the times the way in which the actors are positioned can show
the dominance of one character over another, the importance of family or
religion, a myriad of other relationship possibilities and etcetera.



Figure 1 (Photo courtesy of (500) Days of Summer)


This setting shot Figure 1 was a long
establishing shot to show the introduction of the two main characters; Tom and
Summer, while sitting on a bench looking at skyscrapers. The lighting is also
natural showing no signs of sorrow. On top of that, they are blocked sitting
close together which gives the impression of them being a couple.


By judging from the gap between both
shoulders, for a couple, the girl would either lean her head against the guy’s
shoulder or even it would both body seen overlapping one another to portray
that intimacy. From this shot, they may be seated closely together but not close
enough to make them a couple.



Figure 2 (Photo courtesy of (500) Days of Summer)


Following from the establishing long
shot, again another shot Figure 2 of the two main characters smiling away to
each other seemingly portraying they appear to be an ordinary couple looking
over a city. It was medium close up and shot in reverse shot, in one glance to
show the audience that they are happy, in love through their facial



Figure 3 (Photo courtesy of (500) Days of Summer)


Moreover, this shot Figure 3 was added
to deceive audience and make it seemed as if they really are a couple. This is
a close up shot showing Summer’s wedding ring. Summer’s hand is placed on top
of Tom’s. The director has made such placement that so it deceives the audience
that they could possibly be married together, in which the audience would think
that they are together. But the question is, what the director did not show is
if there is or is not a ring on Tom’s finger. Thus, it could actually bring
many meanings like a friend just placing her hand on another friend’s hand.


Moving on, the placement of Summer’s
hand above Tom’s hand also has a message behind it. Traditionally, a man would
always be labeled as dominant thus a guy would take charge of a situation and
places his hand above a woman’s but in this case, it is the otherwise. Here, we
can see that Summer’s hand is placed above Tom’s thus showing the power and
some traits of dominance Summer possess. Not only that, this also challenges
the norms of a patriarchy system.



Figure 3


As Tom hurries down the street, combined with low-key lighting and the ambient
sound of an ambulance, added to the distraught feel of the shot. The
camera then cuts to Tom walking away into the center of the frame, which draws
attention to his loneliness in such a lively city. The city then becomes a
sketch: the greyness highlights his somber mood.


Then the sketch is erased, leaving Tom in the empty nothingness. The
music concludes at the end of the scene as Tom fades, again making the audience
notice the precise timing of elements in the scene (Giannetti & Leach,
2008). Here, we can see how the technique is used to strongly portray sober.



Figure 4 (Photo courtesy of (500)
Days of Summer)


Next, as the nonlinear storyline brings us back to day
1, as the camera dolly in on Tom, based on Figure 4, Tom is seen sitting
passively in the office. From his facial expression, he appears to look bored
and discontent with his office job.


Traditionally, men are depict as a more active
character but Tom happens to be the otherwise. In the movie, Tom has a romantic
or domestic interest because he will never be happy until the day he found “the
one,” which pretty much explains Tom’s character indirectly.


Figure 5 (Photo courtesy of (500)
Days of Summer)


Tom’s early exposure to sad pop music and misinterpreting
movies and Tom’s interest in relationships and finding “the one” are typically associated
with women in films.



Costume can include both makeup or wardrobe choices
used to convey a character’s personality or status, and to signify these
differences between characters.



Figure 6 (Photo courtesy of (500) Days of Summer)


In contradiction to Tom, Summer is very
much the opposite. Figure 6 shows that Summer is an active and hardworking woman.
Her white dress is also not revealing and her blue bow ribbon pinned on her
hair seems to signify to the audience that she is not sexualized.


Tom, on the other hand, he is
represented by brown/auburn and neighboring shades, whereas Summer is
represented by blue. According to Figure 8 of Tom’s clothing, the amplify of
muted colors signifies drab mood. It could be because of his liking towards the
80s British melancholy pop music, which could have significance to his
character as Figure 7.


Figure 7


Where as Figure 9 the medium close up
on Summer’s dress showing a blue butterfly, mimics her blue bow pinned on her
hair reflects that Summer is feminine but not sexual and she may be a cold lady.



Figure 8                                                         Figure


Whenever they both spend time together,
the general surroundings of the scene becomes blue as to represent Tom can
never be part of Summer’s life no matter how hard he tries.


Additionally, the color blue varies in
this film after Summer and Tom had sex (Fergues, 2015). As shown in Figure
10, the dancers were seen wearing in various shades and tones of blue, while
Tom is still dressed in his beige and brown colors. This is the moment Tom enters
Summer’s world, but he does not belong (Fergues, 2015).


Figure 10 (Photo
courtesy of (500) Days of Summer)











Figure 11 (Photo courtesy of (500) Days of Summer)


Based on Figure 11, the prop hanging
on the mirror shows a picture of a girl with part of her hair cut off. This
foreshadows what Summer is about to do. In this scene, the natural lighting is
coming through the windows as well as lighting from the lamp on Summer’s left
side. Summer does not have romantic or domestic interest, which is very unlike
most women depicted in films.


Figure 12 (Photo
courtesy of (500) Days of Summer)


Following from that, Figure 12 Summer
cuts off her hair and is not even affected or impacted by it. In films, women are
often viewed as fragile and less powerful, however Summer defies the typical
representations of women and beauty because to her, appearance does not have as
great of an impact on her. 


Summer is the opposite of many
traditional representations of woman in films. Firstly, she does not fit into
the mother/whore dichotomy. Summer is presented in workplace as an independent
woman who does not need protection from men. She is also not sexualized either.
Furthermore, she is uninterested in relationships.


Summer portrayed an active female as she
seeks out what fulfills her and that is not necessarily things that are
romantic, domestic or sexualized. Summer’s attitude towards relationships is
traditionally associated with men.


Based on Figure 13, even at young age,
we can see that Tom is indoor, in his room playing guitar signifies a passive
character while Summer is outdoor, doing backflip signifies a more active


Figure 13 (Photo
courtesy of (500) Days of Summer)


On the other hand, Tom defies the
traditional representation of men in films. His masculinity is not emphasized but
he also does not represent a collapse of masculinity. Tom is more domestic than
most men represented in films. His main goal is to establish a relationship and
find the love of his life. His interests are more romantic in which reverses
the traditional gender role.


Figure 14 (Photo
courtesy of (500) Days of Summer)


Referring to Figure 14, the purpose of
the side-by-side shots of a young Tom and Summer growing up is to reflect the
similarity and equality between males and females, as well as to break the
stereotyping of what a female and male should characterize themselves are.


In conclusion, (500) Days of Summer promotes
a progressive message on gender by challenging the traditional norms and values.
It is indeed a great enjoyable contemporary film, which not only defies the
norms in terms or storyline and gender stereotyping.