Video essay examines the many POV shots of the Coen Brothers


We recently just posted a video essay explaining the cinematic technique of breaking the fourth wall courtesy of the web series Now You See It. Today we bring you another video about another cinematic technique – this time it’s about the point of view shot.

It’s incredibly difficult to pinpoint the first use of a point of view shot in cinema history, but POV shots became a staple of many legendary filmmakers, including the Coen Brothers who’ve used it multiple times for different effect. The Coens tend to utilize the POV shot to submerge viewers in a scene, or to give us a unique perspective of something we wouldn’t see or realize otherwise. Jacob T. Swinney noticed just how well the duo uses this classic technique and created a massive supercut of many of the POV shots found in their movies. Comedy, drama, noir, mystery, westerns – the siblings use it no matter what the story, genre or scene.

Swinney described his work as follows:

With a filmography that covers everything from westerns and gangster flicks to comedies and film noir, it can be rather difficult to pinpoint what exactly contributes to the style of Joel and Ethan Coen. While there are reoccurring themes and ideas that surface throughout the filmmakers’ work, a consistent visual aesthetic is not easily recognized. What makes a Coen Brothers film look like a Coen Brothers film? One stylistic element that seems to be rather prominent in all their films is the POV shot. The Coens tend to utilize the POV shot to better submerse us in a scene, but the shot is often used to simply give us a unique perspective that can only be created through cinema. Here is a look at the Coens’ use of the POV shot throughout their career.

Watch the video below and be sure to follow Jacob T. Swinney over on his Vimeo page.

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