Thursday, February 12, 2009

Framing Shots in Film

The framing of shots in a film plays on audience's expectations and subconscious understanding. As Westerners, we read from left to right, and we do the same things when we “read” film. As such, we identify narrative situations from left to right. Consider the framing of the scene from The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader tempts Luke to join the dark side of the force. His tall, dark presence fills the left side of the screen while the cowering and injured Luke remains on the right with an abyss behind him. It is inevitable that Luke will fall off into the abyss because the dominant presence of Vader on the left essentially visually pushes him in that direction. Imagine what the scene would look like if the positions were reversed. Reading from the abyss to Luke to Vader would give a visual clue that Luke is moving towards Vader—the perceived threat would be the abyss with Vader as a place of safety.

The original framing:

Reversed framing:


Prof Emeritus said...

In the revision, Darth reaches out with his right arm (not left). Would that make it seem more inviting?

Melissa Dow said...

Does this mean that in arabic cultures, where they read right to left, the original framing is perceived as enticing and the reversal is the threat?

Heba Kandil said...

It's really interesting how the two images felt completely different.