Top 6: Movies That Play With Perspective

Posted in Top 6 at 4:59 am by Sam

For Episode 43, our Top 6 list is about movies that play with perspective. Of all our Top 6 topics, this is probably the one Sam is personally most interested in and fascinated by. One of the great powers of the medium of film is that it can show us different perspectives. Normally in real life, we’re locked into our own bodies and confined to viewing the world through our own eyes. Movies can release us from that and show us things through other perspectives.

All movies are dependent upon their perspective of the subject matter, but some movies take it a step further and delve into the vast potential of deliberately using perspective to achieve some kind of effect. There’s a huge diversity of things you can accomplish doing this, and we’ve covered a good portion of that range with our picks.

What are your favorite movies that play with perspective?

As always, we recommend listening to the episode before reading further.

  1. Rashomon (1950)
  2. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
  3. Memento (2000)
  4. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
  5. The Usual Suspects (1995)
  6. Dark Passage (1947)
  1. Rashomon (1950)
  2. Playtime (1967)
  3. Short Cuts (1993)
  4. Run, Lola, Run (1998)
  5. Blowup (1966)
  6. Melinda and Melinda (2004)


  1. joem18b (231) said,

    July 24, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    Physical perspective:

    1. LOTR (2001) - Hobbits are larger than they appear (lots of forced perspective). Likewise, Geena Davis and Sigorney Weaver are taller than they appear in their movies. Contrariwise, Tom Cruise, Alan Ladd, Hagrid, and the original Godzilla are shorter than they appear.

    2. Westworld (1973) - Killer-robot perspective using first CGI. See also “The Terminator” (1984) for robot POV.

    3. Koyaanisqatsi (1982) - Time-lapse perspective of human life on Earth.

    4. Being John Malovitch (1999) - The view from inside somebody else’s head.

    5. Conversations with Other Women (2005) - Split-screen multiple perspective.

    6. Rescue Dawn (2006) - Didn’t see this but heard about it on a podcast: a shot of Dengler as he watches rescue helicopter leave without him. There appears to be a little leaf by his ear. Camera pulls back and the leaf, behind him, is taller than he is, symbolizing the overwhelming jungle around him. Reminds of Welles and the curtains in “Citizen Kane” (1941).

    Honorable mention: “The Coversation” (1974) for audio perspective. Austin powers for objects such as grapefruits and hotdogs in front of other objects. Silent Running (1972) - Earth from space. Open Water (2003) - Earth from eye-level in the middle of the ocean.

    Cultural/psychological perspective:

    1. Dirty Pretty Things (2002) - A film that presents London from the perspective of African, Turkish, and Pakastani immigrants. See “El Norte” (1983) and “America 101″ (2005) for Mexican views of the U.S.; “Schulze Gets the Blues” (2003) for a German in Lousiana.

    2. The Outrage (1964) - Rashomon remake.

    3. Flags of Our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) - Two perspectives on the same battle.

    4. Prince of the City (1981) - Lumet shot the movie in thirds, lowering the camera each time to match character’s psychological situation. Or was that “Serpico” (1963)? Or “12 Angry Men (1957)”?

    5. A Man Called Horse (1970) - New perspective on Native Americans.

    6. Repulsion (1965) - Perspective of a person slowly going insane.

    Personal perspective:

    1. Face/Off (1997) - Being treated like somebody else.

    2. Colour Me Kubrick (2005) - Kubrick’s world as seen by a non-Kubrick.

    3. Be With Me (2005) - The world as experienced by Theresa Chan, blind and deaf.

    4. The Three Worlds of Gulliver (1960) - Perspectives of size.

    5. Look Who’s Talking (1989) - Baby perspective.

    6. Requiem for a Dream (2000) - Addicts’ perspective.

    “Shoot angels from below and devils from above.” Or is it the other way around?

  2. Jeffrey (84) said,

    July 25, 2007 at 10:44 am

    Hero - Chinese martial arts film heavily influenced by Rashomon. With brilliant color-coded scenes by Christopher Doyle.

    Also how about Carnival of Souls, Fight Club, The Sixth Sense.

  3. nate42 (10) said,

    July 29, 2007 at 3:30 am

    When I think of multiple perspectives in films, I always think about Pulp Fiction. I would never hang out with hit men, but when I watch that movie, I start seeing things from their point of view. Also, you have the story with Bruce Willis and you change perspectives to his side of his story, and then you see the hit men that you liked at the beginning of the film are now a bad guy. I just think that Pulp Ficiton is awesome. I can’t help it.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.