striking an officer, resisting arrest and murder, all on christmas eve: lady in the lake

i’m gonna start, again, with a benjamin quote from the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction:

the audience’s identification with the actor is really an identification with the camera. consequently the audience takes the position of the camera; its approach is that of testing.

that seems true, but what about p.o.v. shots in movies?  is it explicitly true then?  what about movies shot almost entirely in p.o.v. like the bogey/bacall movie dark passage where bogey gets a new surgically transplanted face and the first half of the movie is shot from his p.o.v. and it’s all bacall talking directly into the camera?  or, like robert montgomery’s directorial debut, lady in the lake?

lady in the lake begins with postcards and jingle bells; the first noel and credits.  then there’s an intro by marlow (who, like all those conrad stories, is the narrator) where he explains, looking directly into the camera, that he “pounded out the story on that,” as he tap, tap, taps on a typewriter.  after that, it’s all shot from marlow’s point of view.  the effect is unsettling — everything is dreamy, hypnotic and a little off with everyone in the movie talking directly at you.  there are some great camera tricks as well with long takes and secret cuts as marlow turns his head around quickly and these great sequences of  p.o.v. to mirror images of marlow back to p.o.v.

if you’re wondering why no one tries to shoot movies like this anymore, well, they do.  except they’re not known as movies but rather the movie parts of 1st-person shooter video games.

but who is the actor behind the camera — the one’s eyes we see out of, the one who talks for us, smokes for us and gets punched in the face for us (years before north by northwest)?  that’s the wrong question.  i mean, in lady in the lake, the camera is the actor.

and speaking of hitchcock, check out this fantastic trailer for the birds:



Filed under Brian

5 responses to “striking an officer, resisting arrest and murder, all on christmas eve: lady in the lake

  1. No! They make them all the time now! All those “found footage” films like REC/Quarantine, Blair Witch Project, and Cloverfield. Sometimes they’re not the main character, but it’s all POV, right?

    I was thinking of POV in the same way that people think of voice in literature. It’s interesting that the POV is the director’s, but also the character through the director.

  2. brian

    while i agree somewhat, i think there’s a difference between this movie and say blair witch. specifically, in blair witch, the camera is present in the movie. it’s obviously being held by the actors in the movie with the actors who are operating the camera occasionally focusing the camera back onto themselves. in lady in the lake, the camera is always hidden. the camera is supposed to be the actual eye(s) of marlow, if that makes sense. this is clearest in the scenes in the movie where marlow looks into the mirror. we don’t see a camera, but a mirrored reflection of marlow.

    • That’s a good point. So they kind of do that in Being John Malcovich, right?

      • i can’t remember, i haven’t seen that in years. the part where they do the chimp pov? is that what you’re referring to?

        i guess i’d say the difference (besides the biggest difference being that lady in the lake povs it for the entire movie) is whether the camera in the movie is explicit (like in blair witch) or implicit

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