Some people call it “bird’s-eye-view,” which can’t always be applied, particularly in cases of indoor scenes. But why would we call it that anyway, unless there is really a significant bird, whether character or prop, in the film? “God’s-eye-view” makes much more sense, given that He has the greatest perspective in omniscient-narrative stories. The overhead shot really should never be utilized in movies in which there is a clear single-person storyteller, but I’m sure it happens all the time.
Watching this “supercut” montage of nothing but “God’s-eye-view” shots made me think of Alfred Hitchcock, who often used this perspective. Of course, in “The Birds” we could rightfully call it “bird’s-eye-view.” For one reason, the whole thing gave me a bit of a woozy headache, as if I was experiencing vertigo throughout. For another reason, I thought about how Hitch said that in feature films the director is God and in documentary God is the director (I was reminded of the quote this week through the contrary opinion of Werner Herzog). Certainly overhead shots of this sort allow the director to play God, while making it appear like we’re watching action through God’s eyes.
Also interesting is how much killing and shots of dead people there are in this montage, evidential that this is the sort of thing filmmakers tend to shoot from God’s POV, as if in a judging manner or signifying where the soul of that dead person is at now. Additionally it relates a bit to crime scene photography, which was pioneered by French photographer Alphonse Bertillon (also responsible for the mug shot), who would take overhead pictures and refer to these as “God’s Eye View” shots.
Check out the video below, featuring Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Down Boy” as the soundtrack. I can’t tell you all the films included here by “Editcadet,” mostly because it’s hard to tell who the actors are just by the tops of their heads. People are taking stabs at listing the titles over on YouTube, though.