Ebert and Angles

Roger Ebert’s points of how the angle of a shot affects the tone of a scene in a movie is illuminating.  Most people watching films make no notice to the way a scene is shot, but it can have a significant impact on their emotion.  While I generally notice this while watching films, it does not come to mind that scenes were shot in a specific way for a reason.  Why would anyone recognize the placement of a character or the angle of a shot as meaningful?  The same reason artists and photographers place everything perfectly or wait for a specific moment: to capture the peak of emotion in a scene.  The impact works to subtlety affect the thoughts of the viewer to the mood desired by the filmmaker.  It is difficult to argue that it does not affect the viewer, since the change is so subtle that they might not notice it at all.

Kubrick and Tarantino both used signature shots to bring that perfect reflection on the viewer.  For Kubrick, he frequently used a single-frame perspective, with the center of the screen being the point of conversion.  He would frequently place a character in the lower part of the frame to give the feeling of emptiness minus the character.  Given the bleak nature of several of his characters and scenarios, this was effective in making the viewer feel less comfortable to reflect the character’s unhinged personality.  Tarantino used a different technique, one that has the camera placed below the characters and pointing up to them.  Placing objects on a higher plain usually gives the impression of power.  This is true in Tarantino’s case, to an extent, as the characters are often in a situation that is to their liking.  Sometimes, however, they are in a stressful situation and this shot is used to a more humorous effect, as the characters are meant to be seen highly but are in less than ideal scenarios.

Jack Brooks

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