MY CHRISTMAS GIFT TO YOU: YOUR VERY OWN POINT OF VIEW.
If you haven’t seen ‘The Danish Girl’, go see it. It makes for a wonderful lesson in two things, one of which is Point Of View. (The other is about acting and I’ll get to that in a different post.)
What Tom Hooper (the director) did almost entirely throughout the film was to give his camera a point of view.
Point of view, just so you know, is not what you see. It’s why you see what you see.
The camera in this film tells a lot of the story. It is, in the truest sense, one of the characters.
It’s not a new idea. I could probably poke through my books on film history and tell you when the first time was that the camera became a character in the story rather than simply functioning as an objective observer. I could, but right now I don’t feel like looking it up.
Whenever it was, trust me it was well over 100 years ago. So long ago that it’s become a tired cliché for directors trying to sell their stories as works of art to say that the camera is intended to be a character in their story.
The problem with clichés, though, is that people recognize them as true without understanding the potential in that truth.
‘The Danish Girl’ is worth watching because of the way the camera doesn’t just show people talking, it creates a symbolic framework to understand the conversations those people are having.
You want an example, don’t you?
In one early scene, the main character –– Einar Wegener, played by Eddie Redmayne –– is shown talking to a ballerina. He’s in a dark loft, high above the dancer, and is almost obscured entirely by delicate, hanging tutus.
The theme of the entire movie, all wrapped up in one shot and handed to you with a bow. (See what I did there? A cliché.)
I want to make sure you understand the point I’m making here, which is that Hooper did this on purpose. He started off by intending for the camera to make a point and then he chose how to use the camera to make that point. Over and over again.
In this example, there are plenty of other ways he could have used the camera to make a point in that scene. He could have had Eddie Redmayne standing just on the other side of a doorway, reluctant to enter the “feminine” dance studio. He could have placed him outside the building, having him talk to the ballerina through a window covered with bars. He could have used colors –– bold colors for the man, soft colors for the ballerina. Or the reverse: soft colors for the man and bold colors for the ballerina. Or how about this? Put both the man and the ballerina in the same “feminine” color palette.
And that’s what I’m aiming at here. I wasn’t crazy about ‘The Danish Girl’ as a film, but it is unquestionably the product of a visionary director’s vision.
Tom Hooper gets to be one, which means he gets to have one. But guess what? You do too.
I know, right?
Brian Belefant is a director with a vision that is totally different from Tom Hooper’s and you know what? That might not be such a bad thing. Why not give him a call at (503) 715 2852 or send an email to belefant (at) me (dot) com?