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Vanishing point
August 31, 2012 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Kubrick - One-Point Perspective (vimeo)

Sounds of Aronofsky (vimeo)
Tarantino - From Below (vimeo)
Wes Anderson - From Above (vimeo)
Breaking Bad - POV (vimeo)
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posted by fearfulsymmetry (39 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Funny how the Kubrick doesn't annoy me at all, but the Anderson pisses me the fuck off! Tarantino isn't as convincing since the shot compositions are all so different, plus some of those shots BARELY quality as "below" whereas the Anderson is all exactly the same straight-down bullcrap.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:19 AM on August 31, 2012


To me, one-point perspective is one piece of what makes Kubrick's compositions interesting. The other piece is the human that's trapped inside the perspective or who is breaking out of it. Kubrick's main story is about tension between regimentation of primitive urges, Supergo and id.

Self link: http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-definitive-style-of-Stanley-Kubrick/answer/Marcus-Geduld
posted by grumblebee at 11:26 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


the Anderson is all exactly the same straight-down bullcrap

Er...I hesitate to ask as it's obviously a painful subject for you: but why is a straight-down shot "bullcrap"?
posted by yoink at 11:26 AM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


"One point perspective" seems an odd term to use for the Kubrick ones, by the way. All ordinary camera shots are "one point perspective." That's just the way lenses work. There will be only one vanishing point. What's common to the Kubrick shots is that the vanishing point is in the center of the image. He should have called it "Kubrick: Central vanishing point."
posted by yoink at 11:30 AM on August 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Funny how the Kubrick doesn't annoy me at all, but the Anderson pisses me the fuck off!

I like Anderson's aesthetic, but adding to my previous post, I'd say a key difference between him and Kubrick is that a lot of Anderson's shots don't have much internal tension in them. Anderson creates a world, and everything in the shot fits into that world. Which is not to say that his films don't have conflict -- it's just that he doesn't expose the conflict visually. The conflict is created in a tug between the visuals and other elements, such as character psychology.

With Kubrick's shots, there's usually visual tension. A visual language with a typo in it. A world with a stranger in it.
posted by grumblebee at 11:31 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anderson creates a world, and everything in the shot fits into that world.

Really? That's not my reaction at all. I find the inherent constructedness of the world Anderson creates so patent that that we are constantly being forced out of any easy suspension of disbelief--which seems to me inherently "tense." Take the long slow shots around the house near the beginning of "Moonrise Kingdom." There's a kind of suppressed hysteria in the sense that the house is utterly implausible; you think you're exploring a dolls house or something--but then there are all these full-size people in it.
posted by yoink at 11:37 AM on August 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


See also: Ozu
posted by Outlawyr at 11:37 AM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Really? That's not my reaction at all. I find the inherent constructedness of the world Anderson creates so patent that that we are constantly being forced out of any easy suspension of disbelief--which seems to me inherently "tense."

I agree with you, but the tension isn't in the shot itself. It's in your relationship to the shot.

It's like when you walk into someone's house and it's so neat looking, you're afraid to touch anything. That's one kind of tension.

A house with a big hole knocked through the wall is another type.
posted by grumblebee at 11:43 AM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Eponysterical.
posted by Egg Shen at 11:51 AM on August 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


I agree with you, but the tension isn't in the shot itself. It's in your relationship to the shot.

I'm not really getting the distinction you're drawing between the "neat looking" and the "hole in the wall" kinds of tension. Both seem to be a tension that relies entirely on a some preexisting cultural understanding ("houses aren't usually this neat," "houses don't usually have holes in the wall.")

I assume from the phrase "tension...in the shot itself" you mean that there's some sort of inherent formal tension in Kubrick's central vanishing point shots but not in Anderson's (i.e., stripped of any cultural knowledge about the nature of the world we're looking at, we'd still feel some sort of inherent visual tension in the construction of the image). I don't discount the notion of a purely "formal" tension--although I struggle to see it resting in simply central vanishing point composition: that seems to me to be the inherently least "tense" composition. It's a kind of "degree zero" perspectival space ("look, you're in a rectangular box!").

But even on these grounds, I find similar "formal" tension in Anderson's shots. Take these tight overheads with hands in them. We're zoomed in too tight on the subject to be aware of the space around it. Hands break in from outside, but we can't see where they're coming from--this seems to me inherently a more "tense" relationship to the visual field than simply peering into a rectangular space along its central axis. What creeps us out in, say, The Shining (which has its share of overhead shots, by the way, and uses their somewhat claustrophobic nature brilliantly in the opening helicopter-shot sequence) is not the fact that those creepy twins are in a centrally organized rectangular space. Put two potted plants in the same spot and the creepy goes right out.
posted by yoink at 11:52 AM on August 31, 2012


Do you see a difference between this and this? Both are shots of artifacts in nature.
posted by grumblebee at 12:00 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another way of looking at it: Kubrick likes images that evoke some kind of patter -- and a break in that pattern: like this. The tension tend to be between the order and the "typo."

With Anderson, you are the typo. Or the tension comes because you're seeing something regimented that you feel needs to be freed from that regimentation.
posted by grumblebee at 12:04 PM on August 31, 2012


This is, in a lot of ways, a Kubrick-like shot, though it's from an Anderson film. But I'm pretty sure Kubrick would have changed the color of the girl's dress. It's rare for everything in his films to fit together so neatly (for nothing to "ruin" the pattern), though the initial shot of the two little girls in the hallway (in "The Shining") is Anderson-esque. Except (a) I bet Anderdon would have found twins that looked a little more alike, and (b) ...
posted by grumblebee at 12:15 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kubrick is not the only director to make shots with a central vanishing point. Other directors who have used it include Alain Resnais in Last Year at Marienbad and Michelangelo Antonioni in L'Avventura.
posted by jonp72 at 12:21 PM on August 31, 2012


Also Robert Wein ("The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari"), Busby Berkely, and Fritz Lang.
posted by grumblebee at 12:32 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's what I think:

Kubrick's order is the natural way of things. Everything is in perfect order from the start, and then people come in and fuck everything up.

In Anderson's world, everything is already fucked up. The stiff geometric order is the result of neurotic people trying in vain to keep their own little Humpty Dumpty together.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:43 PM on August 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


All ordinary camera shots are "one point perspective." That's just the way lenses work. There will be only one vanishing point.

Maybe because I associate "one point perspective" with drawing, your reaction is almost the opposite of my own. Vanishing points are about parallel lines. In photography you're not really capable of choosing how many points of perspective you have, you can only arrange parallel lines to be parallel to the photo's frame. So when I read "one point perspective" I thought, "That's not REAL one point perspective."
posted by RobotHero at 12:44 PM on August 31, 2012


Kubrick's order is the natural way of things. Everything is in perfect order from the start, and then people come in and fuck everything up.

Interesting. You see the main conflict in Kubrick's films as "man against nature" (unless I misunderstand you). I think it's "the individual against society."

And I don't think, in terms of his overall output, he takes sides. I don't think he made moral films about how a single person corrupted society or how society repressed the individual. I don't think he believed either side could win. He believed the two sides were locked in an eternal battle.
posted by grumblebee at 12:48 PM on August 31, 2012


Aronofsky music covering Kubrick shots. Huh.
posted by mrbula at 12:50 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting. You see the main conflict in Kubrick's films as "man against nature" (unless I misunderstand you). I think it's "the individual against society."

Same difference.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:52 PM on August 31, 2012


They left out one of Tarantino's most awesome from-below shots, if only for the Easter egg.
posted by jeremy b at 12:53 PM on August 31, 2012


Same difference.

In what sense? Culture can't exist without humans. "The individual against culture" partly a conflict within the individual himself.
posted by grumblebee at 12:54 PM on August 31, 2012


"One point perspective" seems an odd term to use for the Kubrick ones, by the way.

Seconding that it's more of a drafting/drawing term. There's a potential vanishing point for every set of parallel edges or lines in any structure. Since most structures are based around cubes, when you do a rendering, you have to decide wether you'll account for one, two or three vanishing points, leaving the unresolved points as perfectly parallel lines.

All this meaning to say; I feel that Kubrick is trying to emulate the artificial structure of a single point perspective drawing, so the use of term is pretty apt.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:55 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


One Point Perspective
Two Point Perspective
Three Point Perspective
posted by Kiwi at 12:58 PM on August 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


In what sense? Culture can't exist without humans. "The individual against culture" partly a conflict within the individual himself.

In the sense that one is born into society in exactly the same way as he's born into nature.

That isn't at all what I was talking about, though. You did misunderstand. I made no mention of "nature", or of "the individual"; I was contrasting the use of the two aesthetics. In one, order is the default, or natural, state of the world into which the characters are dropped; in the other, order is a coping mechanism the character uses to deal with the disorder around him.

(Also, grumblebee, I'm really not interested in arguing with you. It always goes on far too long and gets exactly nowhere.)
posted by Sys Rq at 1:07 PM on August 31, 2012


I hate the Breaking Bad POV shots. They completely take you out of the show. The last episode had like 6 of them or something and I groaned at each one.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 1:09 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, sorry. I had no interested in arguing with you (or anyone). I thought we were discussing.

Sorry if I misunderstood you. My bad.
posted by grumblebee at 1:09 PM on August 31, 2012


I'm just going to agree with anyone and everyone who thinks that "one point perspective" is the perfect phrase.

""All ordinary camera shots are "one point perspective." That's just the way lenses work. There will be only one vanishing point"


Um. No.
posted by FirstMateKate at 1:10 PM on August 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


one thing is obvious from the montage - Kubrick had a singular vision. there's no mistaking any of his films as the work of anyone else. where he put the camera, and his actors, is one aspect of why this is so. other directors have other hallmarks. Polanski often will construct a shot in an interesting fashion - with a door or wall eating up half the frame while Ruth Gordon sits on the edge of a bed talking on the phone in Rosemary's Baby - or he'll follow the main actor, with the camera seeing the actor's back - like Jack Nicholson in Chinatown - something Aronofsky does in The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke. film is still a young art form, and is massively complex, hence the continued fascination.
posted by TMezz at 1:38 PM on August 31, 2012


One-point perspective? I got your one-point perspective right here.
posted by egypturnash at 3:36 PM on August 31, 2012


Sys Rq, I think I see what you're saying: that in a lot of Kubrik films the individual is in stark contrast in the order around him whether it be in society or nature. But I just wanted to humbly offer that most people would see a difference in society and nature. One difference I see is that people can choose whether or not they are in agreement with society, that many individuals in Clockwork Orange were invested in society and the film clearly set the viewer to be more sympathetic of society at least through the beginning. And the hero in 2001 were also in harmony with society at the beginning of the film.

However the tension between civilized man and nature is more fundamental. Those jungles/space/wintery forest are always going to be inhospitable to the protagonists in the film. Anyways, I get you're point, I don't really mean to disagree, but grumble was making an interesting distinction. Mostly I just thought everyone was making good points and I want everyone to get along.
posted by midmarch snowman at 5:45 PM on August 31, 2012


Do you see a difference between this and this? Both are shots of artifacts in nature.

Well, sure. I'm still unclear on which one you think is like the ultra tidy house and which one is like the house with a hole in the wall, though.

I mean, I still don't understand if you're responding formally to the composition (imagine moving the camera close in to the record player so that it looms ominously in the frame--would that be Kubrickesque to you?) or if you're responding to the content of the images (ominous, incongruous monolith in one, ordinary domestic--and somewhat nostalgic--objects in the other).

Oh, and I wouldn't argue for any "inherent tension" in the random shot you've chosen there to represent Anderson, by the way. But I would for, say, this shot.

As for the "single" vs "double" point perspective--yeah, I goofed: I was thinking of conflicting vanishing points (when an artist incorporates two different, and noncoherent vanishing points within one scene), which is something else again.
posted by yoink at 5:46 PM on August 31, 2012


I think the contrast between Anderson and Kubrick is an interesting one to make because both filmmakers specialize in extremely composed, almost theatrical set-pieces. I say theatrical in the sense that these are obviously not how scenes would naturally unfold in the real world, the almost antithetical response to the shaky steady-cam of cinéma vérité.

I think I side with yoink, however, in that Anderson does include a lot of tension to his work, however in very subtle ways, and less so in his cinematography. The fact that no one acts in a natural manner, that every speaks with a cadence and syntax that is *just* off from what would feel normal, adds a significant amount of tension and interest to each scene. Also how all the settings seem so exotic and old world (the Sea, India, Patrician Manhattan) but also comfortable and intimate adds interest. I feel like his cinematography is a little cloying for my taste, but I can't deny that he does it very well, and I wouldn't judge anyone for liking Wes Anderson.
posted by midmarch snowman at 6:07 PM on August 31, 2012


Can I have my BFA now?
posted by midmarch snowman at 6:08 PM on August 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq, I think I see what you're saying: that in a lot of Kubrik films the individual is in stark contrast in the order around him whether it be in society or nature.

Actually, that's exactly what I just said I was not saying.

You are responding to words which grumblebee put in my mouth, which have nothing at all to do with the point I was making, i.e. just, only, solely, merely that Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson use their superficially similar aesthetic styles in functionally different ways.

If you want to have a conversation about the conflict between individual and society in the films of Stanley Kubrick, go ahead and do that. But please don't tack my name in front of that conversation, because it has nothing to do with me.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:14 PM on August 31, 2012


I've always noticed this in Kubrick films. Now I know what to call it.
posted by Max Udargo at 8:24 PM on August 31, 2012


Cool! That's some fascinating stuff from some great filmmakers and also Quentin Tarantino.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:36 PM on August 31, 2012


though the initial shot of the two little girls in the hallway (in "The Shining") is Anderson-esque.

I'd say it's more Diane Arbus.
posted by jonp72 at 2:16 PM on September 1, 2012


Eclectic Method - Almodóvar Mixtape
posted by homunculus at 3:18 PM on September 4, 2012


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