Three minutes is hardly any time at all to spend analyzing the work of a master director such as Brian De Palma, so if you have it to spare, this supercut from Vimeo user movement_of_time is well worth the 180 seconds. The video is designed to prove a point about one of De Palma’s preferred camera techniques. Namely, “Brian De Palma is one of those directors who have their own special well recognizable style. And exactly this style he realizes using certain techniques, one of which is ‘view from above’. This method can be seen, if not in all his movies, then in the vast majority. ‘View from above’ is a shot taken from the top distant point, which shows the specific details of the current event. Moreover ‘view from above’ is a method of certain removal from the space of the movie and the voyeurism form that is one of the basic components of such an art form as cinematography.”
Set to “Tony’s Theme” from “Scarface” (by Giorgio Moroder), the supercut employs bird’s eye view shots from 12 of De Palmas’ 29 feature films to emphasize the thesis. The films span 32 years of the director’s career, starting with “Phantom of the Paradise,” (1974) and skipping here and there along the way to “The Black Dahlia” (2006). Some of the most frequent “views from above” occur in “The Untouchables,” “Mission: Impossible,” and — believe it or not — “Mission to Mars,” De Palma’s 2000 clunker.
That said, every film included offers some memorable, definitive De Palma bird’s eye view. “Scarface” is recognizable the moment it’s on the screen, of course, but so is “Snake Eyes” (for those who’ve seen it). As you watch, you’ll catch shots from “The Fury,” “Dressed to Kill,” “Blow Out,” “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” and “Femme Fatale,” as well.
Check it out below. Can you easily call to mind other De Palma pictures with views from above, not included in the three-minute supercut? [35 MM]