Why camera perspectives are important to film

POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR “DJANGO UNCHAINED”

Camera perspectives can tell a lot, often these things are more obvious than the camera movements are trying to tell.

But those are only the point of view, there are also perspectives. This might seem the same just vocabulary wise, but in practice it is not. You have three sorts of perspectives: normal perspective, frog perspective and bird’s eye view.  The normal perspective is often also a subjective point of view. All of these perspectives speak for themselves, but they can have a deeper meaning behind them. Frog Perspective is often used to show the person that they are filming large and menacing, more powerful than they are, in comparison  to the bird’s eye view where they make the one they are filming powerless. An example of a frog perspective can be found in Quentin Tarantino his films in which he uses the so called trunk-shot quite a lot, whereby it has become sort of a signature for him.

In these examples you can also see that it is filmed from a subjective standpoint. Viewing the people opening the trunk as if they are powerful, because the man in the trunk is defenseless, and powerless, he can’t fight back. This is nearly always a subjective point of view, but more on that later on in this article. As an example of a “deeper” meaning of bird’s eye view or God’s eye view, I’ve taken also taken examples from Quentin Tarantino films.

There everything is filmed from a gods-eye view. From above all, showing that there is a stronger force than the character. He uses this very often. By using this he makes the character feel small and human. The point of view we’re seeing everything through is powerful, unlike the character we are seeing. The one we’re seeing it from is the one deciding the actions, which differs if you lower the camera and follow the main character in an action scene for example and it feels like they are in power. To stick with Quentin Tarantino as an example you can see this very clearly in a scene from Django Unchained. Firstly he mows down all the enemies as he is on a killing spree – he’s in power – but then. Then he has to give up as more enemies appear, and the camera shows this from a Gods-eye view, because Django is no longer in charge. He’s no longer deciding what’s going on. He’s powerless.

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“Django Unchained” 2012 – Quentin Tarantino

Accompanied with these perspectives, you also have two versions every shot can be seen. You have a subjective and an objective viewpoint. In a subjective viewpoint, we see everything from the perspective of one character or follow them around, think back to Django having his killing spree as we follow him. We see how they see the world, how they experience it, etc. See it as a book written in the first person. An extreme example of a film in which this is constantly the case is Hardcore Henry, a film completely told in first person view, always seeing things from his point of view, never seeing any long shots of the main character: everything is seen from his eyes. This sounds quite boring, doesn’t it? Well the result is that you have a visually quite boring film, because you only see his perspective.  By utilizing you can generate tension, because it feels like we’re there, but if you don’t interchange it with something else once in a while, it does get boring. But this doesn’t always have to be a POV-shot.
On objective shot is the exact opposite of a subjective shot, meaning that we get to see the scene from a neutral viewpoint.

Thanks for reading; this was all I have to say for now! I’ll recap this article in a very small manner: camera perspectives can tell a lot on their own: who’s powerful and who’s not etc. They can really make your film more interesting if you play around with them, and let them have a deeper meaning.

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