For this Thursday’s class we read an article by Douglass & Harnden titled, “Point of View”. Throughout the article they discuss the various definitions of point of view in relation to film. It’s important to understand the different definitions in order to understand the basic story in a video or film.

There are three types of point of view Douglass & Harnden introduce to us. First, it can be “a camera shot taken as if seen through the eyes of a character”. The second definition “refers to the perspective of the storyteller” meaning it can be “an eyewitness account of an incident or an expression of the storyteller’s thoughts and theories”. Lastly, point of view can refer “to the interests, attitudes, and beliefs associated with a character’s or group’s particular perspective” (31).

Point of view shots are used in films to put the viewer in the perspective of one of the characters. It often times build suspense and because of this it is used in horror movies and action movies very frequently. One example I always vividly remember is in the movie theater the 30-second intro before a movie begins when they play the video clip of a rollercoaster ride on a film strip. It makes you feel as though you are on the ride yourself experiencing the thrill.

The perspective of the storyteller is also an important element for the editor to consider when shaping their story. The first person voice is generally used in documentary films in order to state an opinion on important matters. An example of a director who frequently uses this method is Michael Moore.

Third person narration is common in many Hollywood movies, but is less emotional than the first person point of view. It’s also not normal for an opinion to be stated in a third person narrative.

When choosing whose point of view to express in a film, we must keep in mind the attitude we are trying to portray to our audience. The following is an example Douglass & Harnden brought up:

“Consider how different a production about timber logging might be if it were sponsored by a lumber company as opposed to an environmental group” (39).

Clearly, their attitudes would be in direct opposition.

Questions to Ponder:

1.) What are techniques you have noticed in films to help establish a point of view?
2.) Is there a certain director whose films you enjoy because of his/her point of view? If so, who and why?

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