Point of view, ya’ll, or POV. In film POV can be a shot set-up. I filmed a webseries episode last week and a character ended up on the ground. My DP laid on the ground and pointed the camera at the sky, imitating the view of the character. Remember this, it is the physical POV that will help you and me understand the next definition.
POV can be the term used to explain the way the story is told. I’ve briefly blogged about POV within a movie before, here.
For this post, here’s a different example: in the movie Memento, which is about a guy with memory loss, the film is edited backwards so that the audience sees the story in weird pieces, like the main character sees. He can’t remember anything longer than 15 minutes, so he gets tattoos and writes things down. As soon as that time is up, he has to rely entirely on his sometimes cryptic notes. The viewer feels just like he does, since we have to figure out the story through sometimes cryptic scenes.
Let me give another example, since that one is a very extraordinary movie. Almost every movie has a main character and that main character directs the way the story is told. Let’s talk about Iron Man (2008). In Iron Man Tony Stark is taken hostage and kept in a cave for a majority of the movie. While he is in the cave, the story stays in the cave, with him. He is the main POV, so whatever he can see, we see. Later, he leaves the cave and to keep the audience informed on other aspects of the storyline, the camera shows us conversations with villains, Tony’s assistant Pepper interacting with Agent Coulson and some moments with Rhodey, Tony’s friend. But those times away from Tony only exist to clarify, and they don’t last long.
This is Tony’s story and we see it as he sees it. The villains are bad because they oppose him, just like his friends are good because they (sometimes) support him. This movie could be told by the villain, and Tony Stark would be the bad guy. I mean, come on, Thor is really about Loki, because at the end of the movie you just want Loki to come back and get revenge on his enemy–Thor. And when Loki comes back in The Avengers, he’s almost…well…I feel for him, because the first movie was his story about the brother who got everything and messed everything up and then, in his eyes, betrayed him.
(Thor may be the worst example of POV ever, since I apparently missed out on the fact that Thor is supposed to be the good guy. I mean come on, just because some people think Thor’s pretty doesn’t mean he didn’t start an unnecessary war and nearly get a bunch of people killed when the guy trying to rectify the situation sends a big robot to stop him from making an even bigger mess. The only wronged individual in this movie is Loki. Maybe the writer wanted us to support Thor, so they got a lovely actor and framed him with his shirt off, but their subterfuge failed. We all know who the protagonist is based on the filming, the story and the person making all the bad choices.)
If you’re confused about a movie’s POV, it might not have a main character. If you’re still confused, find the person who is shown to be the most vile, evil, selfish, and/or corrupt and you’ve found the villain. The opposite, or at least opposing, character is the protagonist, and the movie is from his or her POV.
Okay, that got a little sidetracked in the end. And I actually have a lot more to say about POV, but I’ll save it for another post.