Point-of-view shot  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A point of view shot (also known as POV shot or a subjective camera) is a short film scene that shows what a character (the subject) is looking at (represented through the camera). It is usually established by being positioned between a shot of a character looking at something, and a shot showing the character's reaction (see shot reverse shot). The technique of POV is one of the foundations of film editing.

A POV shot need not be the strict point-of-view of an actual single character in a film. Sometimes the point-of-view shot is taken over the shoulder of the character (third person), who remains visible on the screen. Sometimes a POV shot is "shared" ("dual" or "triple"), i.e. it represents the joint POV of two (or more) characters. There is also the "nobody POV", where a shot is taken from the POV of a non-existent character. This often occurs when an actual POV shot is implied, but the character is removed. Sometimes the character is never present at all, despite a clear POV shot, such as the famous "God-POV" of birds descending from the sky in Alfred Hitchcock's film, The Birds. Another example of a POV shot is in the movie Doom, which contains a fairly long POV shot which resembles a head-up display in a first-person shooter video game, with the viewer watching through a character who is venturing through hallways shooting and killing aliens.

A POV shot need not be established by strictly visual means. The manipulation of diegetic sounds can be used to emphasize a particular character's POV.

It makes little sense to say that a shot is "inherently" POV; it is the editing of the POV shot within a sequence of shots that determines POV. Nor can the establishment of a POV shot be isolated from other elements of filmmakingmise en scene, acting, camera placement, editing, and special effects can all contribute to the establishment of POV.

With some POV shots when an animal is the chosen character, the shot will look distorted or black and white.

Leading actor POV

Subjective viewpoint is what it is called when the leading actor is the subject of the POV. The audience sees events through the leading actor's eyes, as if they were experiencing the events themselves. Some films are partially or totally shot using this technique. In fact, there is an entire genre of pornography dedicated to videos seen through POV.

One of the first films to use this technique was Rouben Mamoulian's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Everything is seen through Jekyll's eyes, as he leaves his house to go to the medical lecture. Then, as he begins to speak, Jekyll is seen for the first time. When Jekyll first transforms himself into Hyde, Mamoulian once again uses the subjective camera to record his agonized reaction to the drug that he drinks.

Film, directed by Alan Schneider written by Samuel Beckett and starring Buster Keaton also uses POV extensively, switching between the main character's point of view and the view of the camera as a way to illustrate Berkeley's quote "to be is to be perceived and to perceive". Interestingly, Film is also said to refer to the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

In the film noir Dark Passage, the protagonist has plastic surgery, and when his bandages are removed, he is revealed to be Humphrey Bogart. But until that moment, everything is seen through his eyes and the viewer has no idea what he looks like.

In another film noir, Lady in the Lake, directed by and starring Robert Montgomery as Raymond Chandler's detective Philip Marlowe, the entire film is shot from a subjective viewpoint, and Montgomery's face is seen only when he looks in a mirror. The film was not a critical or popular success.

The Plainclothesman, a moderately popular crime series aired on the DuMont Television Network from 1949 to 1954, used the technique. According to David Weinstein's book The Forgotten Network, the show was even used in police training in some cities.

The British sitcom Peep Show is shown entirely through the viewpoints of the characters and even lets you hear the two lead character's thoughts in the scenes.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Point-of-view shot" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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