A Look Back: Controlled Toggle Perspective

While attending my last semester at BYU Media Arts/Film school in 2006, I wrote this paper as a part of the Film Theory class. On our final test we had to remember 30 of the 32 class member presentations. Mine was not on the final due, what I believe,  to the goofy title and how easy it was to remember to connect to the summary. This may be a “no duh” type thing, but guess what movie I used as a prime example? Yeah, Click. Now that’s called guts.

Summary Statement: Drawing from the ideas of Eisenstein and Pudovkin on film editing creating emotion for propaganda and Browne’s ideas of the director making a specific moral order, controlled toggle perspective involves the meaning from specific notions and clues given to the viewer by the author. The filmmaker uses editing to draw the audience into the deeper meaning and intended message of the film. A prime example is crossing line and frequency of cutting in films. The director has a vision in mind to use editing as an object to allow the viewer to emulate the position of their protagonist by throwing them into a world of frequent cuts or by playing with the reversed perspective normally not in invisible editing.  In other situations crossing the line, crossing the axis primarily established in the first shot of a scene, can be used to create deeper meaning in a film or add to the moral order, thus giving it more emotion and advertising the message.

Theoreticians: Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Browne, and Walter Murch

Practitioners: J.J. Abrams (M:I 3, Lost, Alias), Doug Liman (Bourne Identity), “24”

Buzz words/phrases: Crossing the Line, Visible Editing, Intended Visual Cues

View of text: the director, or technicians involved in the film, leaves visual clues and or cues for us to understand intended messages.

View of creator: Trace of personal touch is left in showing intended message or giving viewer a clue not available to people inside the story, but available to the viewers.

View of spectator: Abnormal filmmaking structure or design is used intentionally to grab attention of the viewer to the seriousness of the scene.

View of “reality”: There is an omniscient feeling rather than the idea of a singular eyeball seeing the action.

Beté noir: Viewer falls into unrecoverable state of confusion because of disorientation.

Determinant: Montage editing.

Transcendence? Meaning of a scene, and the overall film, depends on the personal style of the director, editor, and DP.

Danger: Director uses cuts unintentionally leading the viewer into expectations unfulfilled.

Summary Statement: Intellectual, artistic, and or experienced filmmakers use editing, to clue, cue, or invite the viewers to understand the concepts and meanings that can be revealed by paying attention.

Additional notes from 2010: I showed a clip of Click to illustrate my point. Adam Sandler goes into Bed, Bath & Beyond and then after wandering for a minute, lands on the bed in store. Bam, cross the line cut and he meets the spooky twilight zone-esque character played by Christopher Walken.

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