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Watch: The POV Shot in Film, Part Two (Jacob Swinney’s Take)

Watch: The POV Shot in Film, Part Two (Jacob Swinney's Take)

In Part 1 of this 2-parter, Leigh Singer’s video made us intensely aware of the way POV shots can bring you inside cinematography, making you feel a film’s visual workings more intensely than you might otherwise feel them. But what about the use of this shot as a more practical narrative tool? Jacob Swinney takes this possibility and runs with it in his take on the POV shot. In the scenes assembled here, the shot is an agent of development, moving the story and the viewer forward in a way that pops us, if only momentarily, out of that story. That departure is an illusion, though, because frequently we’re tugged right back in. When we look, for instance, out of the car trunk at Vincent and Jules in Pulp Fiction, this is an agressive narrative move; Tarantino wants the viewer to experience the story somewhat cubistically, from all directions at once. When, during the famous shower scene in Psycho, we watch Janet Leigh being stabbed repeatedly from the killer’s point of view, our sudden displacement is important–because it’s important that we humor the idea that someone besides Norman Bates is doing the killing in the film, if only momentarily. (For, in that scene, we get the victim’s POV as well.) And in a film like Her, POV shots are crucial–they give life to Scarlett Johansson’s digital muse, and give viewers a significantly probing look at Joaquin Phoenix’s grasp for companionship. It doesn’t hurt that Swinney runs the soft-rock hit “These Eyes” over these images from over 100 movies. What, after all, is the POV shot but a way of reminding us that there’s more than one way to see, tell, or experience a story–and that being reflective on these things is part of the filmmaker’s responsibility?

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