Film POV

POV stands for point-of-view. For an article in which the author utterly misunderstands how POV applies to film, check out this page (in his defense, film is not his thing). POV in film is a little complex. Originally, POV was developed for a story told or read. To extend this idea directly to a movie would make the POV the camera lens. Thus we would be turning a concept used to describe the persepctive of a story into one used to describe a purely technical aspect of the story telling. Thus film POV tells us what book POV tells us, but it does it differently. If we follow a cop as he tries to solve a crime, he is always there; the film is from his POV; it is not necessary for the camera lens to literally be his eyes. However, I do want to point out that there are many more options regarding POV in film than there are in books. And in general, this is a bad thing. Most of the time, the only reasons POV changes or some odd kind of POV is used is that the filmmaker can’t make it work otherwise.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

One thought on “Film POV

  1. Frank, only today did I see your response to my comments on your post on Miller’s Crossing. Thanks for those. You are right, I misunderstood your use of the word POV. My apologies. That said, and not wanting to disrupt the spirit of collegiality, since I would like to continue some conversation, I still must say that I have to disagree about even the way that you talk about POV above. POV is a technical term guiding film production, whereas in novels you are referring to the personage of the narrator–is it first person, third person (or wildly, but almost never, second person). I think there is an important difference between those that extends beyond its formal dimension. Back to the collegial (and not pedantic), I really like how you describe Miller’s Crossing as a tragic story. That makes a lot of sense and I think it’s right. Sometimes I wonder if the film is not about an ethical query, as voiced by Caspar in the opening scene, and this would dovetail nicely with your reading of it as a tragic narrative. I just posted a blurb on my blog about whether the Coen brothers’ films are misanthropic, which David Denby claims and which I will write about (but not today), if you have thoughts or other unrelated comments, I would be much appreciative.

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