Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Douglass & Harnden, "Point of View"

Douglass and Harnden discuss the differences between first and third person storytelling in film. On point they make is that third person is generally seen as more credible by the audience than first. In academic papers, I was taught (over and over again) in high school to never use first person in our papers. Any use of I, me, mine, etc. called for an immediate 10 point deduction. At first I found this difficult and didn't understand why it mattered. However, I quickly realized that my opinion on such large issues rarely constituted anything in scholarly works--at least when I used first person. Despite what tense you use on paper, it is your opinion whether or not you clearly state that, and only your credibility is questioned.

The issue of first person credibility also appears in film, but the idea of opinions in storytelling does not. In movies, if you are treated as an outside viewer (third person), then  you trust what's happening but feel removed from the decisions of the characters. In first person, audiences still feel like they have no control (and they don't).

However, first person point of view is very popular in horror films, especially as the predator. Seeing the victim from the predator's eyes helps build suspense, while also letting the viewer know that something is about to happen. Although, there are some shows that I've watched where the camera angle is from that of the attacker, but something happens to thwart their attempt and the camera goes back to third person point of view while the attacker retreats, but is never shown. This tactic builds suspense in both the present, but also the future since you know the attacker will be back to finish the job at a later point.

What do you find to be the most effective point of view for cameras in movies? Do you like first person camera angles, or does it frustrate you since you have no control over the characters actions?

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