You would think examining films and movies would be easy for me. After all, my dad has a huge DVD collection that I routinely go through and pick out movies that I haven’t seen. But even with such an extensive selection, my experience with film is rather slanted. With two younger brothers, I spent most of my time watching movies that they could watch as well—ie: disney movies, family movies, etc. Only once I hit high school did I find my footing in more genres, my favorites being in sci fi and fantasy, usually (though I won’t say no to a good action. Cuz y’know. Explosions).
Looking at a film through the lens of studying it? That’s a whole new ball game.
So I guess for this, I’ll briefly touch on one of my favorite movies of all time (and by all time I mean that I have watched it to the point of being able to recite it): Serenity. When I say my favorite movie is Serenity, I mostly get a blank look. Which is terrible, because it is awesome. I won’t give anything away, so go watch it now (but watch the TV show that it came from first, Firefly, because then it’s even more spectacular).
But in regards to film theory and seeing through the perspective of the main character and POV, I have found a new aspect of Serenity to consider. Serenity is a sci fi, set in the future, on a space ship, that has your normal, multi-person crew. You have the captain as the main character, but a lot of the focus is on the other people as well.
So how can you identify with the main character?
In class we discussed how movie-makers use different techniques to get the audience to look through the camera’s lens and still connect with the characters. In Serenity, I think the key moments are in the beginning. A little background and world-building is done first, but quickly goes to the captain, one of the main characters, and a camera follows him throughout the space ship as he prepares the ship for landing, seemingly-incidentally introducing the different crew members. The fact that there is not a single cut allows the audience to feel like they are really walking with the captain in real time and seeing the ship through his eyes. Unlike the shot/reverse shot that cuts from the main character to what they are seeing, the opening sequence has a fluidity that quickly establishes the main character and his perspective.
And that was only the first scene of the movie. I’ll have to go through and check out the rest and really look for more POV methods in the rest of Serenity. Funny, how learning one thing can give you something a little more to enjoy, even when you’ve seen the movie 20+ times and think you know everything.