Mis-en-scene is the French cinematic term for "placement in the frame." We thought about that and about the film Little Shop Around the Corner (Jimmy Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, 1940, great holiday film) as we ambled through the local business districts this holiday shopping season.
Each shop window is a mini-mis-en-scene, a framed work of art. But the frames also tell a story, especially when people enter the frame.
Storefronts look their seasonal best, of course, when darkness imposes its dominion, providing a cozy contrast to the cold outside. Diners aren't just dining. They're intertwining, sharing a meal. Or musing in silent solitude, making mental lists, checking them twice.
Shoppers aren't just browsing but customizing, pairing products with a person, working their way through their list of loved ones, transforming mere objects into thoughtful gifts that might just make someone's December.
Commerce becomes communal as storefronts entice, offering their rebuttal to nightfall. They invite our voyeurism (from without) and exhibitionism (from within) — through the looking glass, as it were, through the glass lightly.
The point of it all, after all, is attraction, which leads to connections, and connection leads to a transfer of "goods" and "services," the original meaning of "commerce."
White lights and brightly colored baubles, poinsettias, faux snow and virtual icicles, outlined in evergreen garland, adds midwinter magic to the mix.
Only a few days left. Don't forget to stop and smell the potpourri, and remember to admire the scenery. Our little shops around the corner.
Christmis-en-scene! Joie de vivre!
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