5. Young Michael Myers in Halloween
Little brothers and their pranks.
Obviously, I could have included almost every slasher movie in the world on this list. I decided to pin it down to just the one – and while there were certainly shots like this before and after Halloween, this is the one that stands out for being from the point of view of a seemingly innocent child. The reveal is great – and as Rifftrax pointed out – also a little awkward as his mother and father just kind of stand there silently.
There’s another terrific POV in this film, when Laurie is approaching the house and you can hear the signature Michael Myers mask breathing as he watches from the darkness. Then, suddenly, he steps into the shot revealing that it isn’t a POV after all. It’s a great changeup for a film littered with killer-cam shots.
4. SQUID Recordings in Strange Days
It’s nice to finally see sex in the first-person. In movies, I mean…
Nothing like a 90s movie predicting elaborate future technology mere years later – it’s like when Demolition Man predicted cryogenic technology three years after the movie’s release date.
Strange Days has a opening sequence that can only be described as totally boss. What appears to be a single, uncut, first person view of a robbery gone wrong – ending when the bad guy goes launching into the pavement after a botched rooftop jump. We learn that in the future (1999) we can record and playback experiences in the first person – and we use that ability mostly for creepy sex fantasies. So yeah – pretty much Google Glass without all that checking for directions bullshit.
3. The Beginning Scenes in Dark Passage
As you’ll see in the entry after this one – apparently first-person films were a bit like Armageddon and Deep Impact in the 40s. Specifically 1947.
Dark Passage was the second film noir that year to implement first person shots to convey a story for a long span of time in the film. In this, we follow Humphrey Bogart as he escapes San Quentin prison and hitches a ride with Lauren Bacall, who helps him get a surgical face change. See – while we hear Humphrey for the first third of the film, we never see his face until it is “changed” into the actor. It’s a weird tactic – but also extremely compelling right from the moment the film begins.
2. The Entirety of The Lady In The Lake
While critic Hal Erickson said that Dark Passage was the better of the two – Lady in the Lake really seems like the best first-person noir to come out of 1947. It is, after all, entirely shot in the POV perspective. And even better is the fact that the POV is that of your classic snub-nosed revolver, dame slappin’, private noir dick Phillip Marlowe. And by “dick” I mean, “asshole.”
For a film made in the 40s, they sure were ambitious about allowing the story to dictate the action and not the limitations of the cinematography. Probably the best point is when Marlowe’s car is driven off the road and we watch him drag himself to a phone. The fact that it’s in first person perspective makes the moment that much more agonizing – as well as the terrifying caroling soundtrack, which I sure hope wasn’t meant to be playing inside the characters own head.
1. The Shark in Jaws
It’s amazing what an underwater cam and a couple notes on a tuba can do for a whole generation of swimmers. If you’ve ever wondered, his name was Tommy Johnson and he played those iconic notes you’ve heard all your life.
While that shark looked pretty good, and the actors were amazing, it’s really this shot that drives this entire film. Just imagine what it would have been like without it – if the mechanical shark had worked consistently and Spielberg had no limitations. It was those limitations that gave the film the suspense that made it famous. Not to mention shooting at water level, a cinematic act that proved quite unnerving to watch.
If there were ever a film that shows just how important every component is, it’s Jaws.