The first episode of The Mad Men, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, captures the series’ whole premise by orienting the viewer to the way characters behave and think, as well as the time frame in which they reside. The scene that piques my attention is at the beginning of the first episode, when the setting is smoke-filled, evoking the 1960s’ bad habit of cigarette smoking as African Americans do menial labor. By depicting the time, location, and intellectual thinking of the characters, the opening scene in the episode Smoke Gets in Your Eyes introduces and anchors the series to a near future.
In this scene, one can see Don Draper wearing a suit and smoking, a behavior that was widespread during the 1960’s. Don starts talking to the waiter Sam who is also African American (Ryan). The scene ends with Don scanning the room realizing that it is only people from the white race who are smoking and laughing. The camera focuses on the two men while zooming on them in a background filled with smoke and noise. The lighting is bright focusing on the men standing out from the crowd. African Americans were not allowed to dine in the same area as other people and that is why the room was full of white people only. The filmmakers use dolly’s with zoom lenses to help in creating the clarity of the characters’ faces. Additionally, the movement allows the flattening of the image and shot length thus improving the depth of field. The editing and horizontal camera angle allow the audience to see the whole restaurant while also maintaining the somewhat blurry background. Moreover, bright colors bring out the differences in the skin color and its impact during this time, as well as in the costume creation (Murch 31). The waiter’s costume is synonymous to that of a waiter while Don is dressed in a clean suit. The noise in the background has been muffled so as to focus on the conversation between Don and Sam. There is no music in the background and the filmmakers zoom in on the dialogues between these two.
The filmmakers use over the shoulder shots, zooming and planning shots to influence the way the audience understands the setting of the series. Over the shoulder shots bring about the concept of empathy as the audience can easily identify the mannerisms of the men that are in the film and thus foretell the time (Murch 40). Zooming shots are particularly significant in bringing up the faces of the characters and this helps in explaining their expressions.
The aspect of identity is brought about quite clearly with the cinematic techniques and this makes it possible for the audience to comprehend the various occurrences in the show. Don is the protagonist and his orders exude an aura of authority that is synonymous to masculinity. For instance, the protagonist identifies with masculinity which is evident through their costumes and patriarchal nature (Murch 39). On the other hand, Sam performs menial jobs and there is no African American dining in the restaurant because of the concept of white supremacy during the 1960’s. Besides, such a combination of dull colors and planning shots produces images that first create enjoyment and then connection.

Works Cited
Murch, Walter. In the Blink of an Eye: a Perspective on Film Editing. Chicago: Silman-James Press, 2007. Print.
Ryan, Maureen. “The Seductive, Snazzy World of ‘Mad Men’.” Chicago Tribune. N.p., 18 July 2007. Web. 9 Apr. 2017.

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