Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Point of View changes everything

I love point of view. This is in part why I talked about multiple points of view over at The Sharp Angle last Friday - but you don't need to have multiple points of view. Even one can be fantastic, and for me, the deeper into the point of view you go, the more fun it is. Point of view restricts you, but it lets you do so much.

I want to share with you the following video, "Out of Sight," which I discovered through Facebook this week. It was made by a pair of film students at the National Taiwan University of Arts - and for those who know the name, I see a lot of the influence of Hayao Miyazaki in it. To me, this is a wonderful expression of how the limitations of point of view can make for a truly unique experience. This goes for watchers in the case of this short film, but it also goes for readers in the case of written point of view. The mysteries are deeper, the revelations more dramatic, the emotions more poignant. Karen Anderson also pointed out to me that this is a terrific example of an unreliable narrator. I hope you enjoy the film.


  1. Not sure if it's relevant, but I always remember this commercial, even though it aired twenty years ago in the UK...

  2. Very cool, Stuart. I think it's definitely relevant. Some might see the Guardian ad as evidence for using omniscient point of view, but I see it as evidence of how interesting things are when you show one point of view, then another, and then another. That juxtaposition is what made the ad so effective - and what often makes multiple POV narratives effective.

  3. Very nice film. Especially poignant, and universal, as it's nearly wordless.

    We have NausicaƤ and Howl's Moving Castle on DVD, and it does remind me very much of those. Deeply subjective magical realms.

    I once read a "how to" essay that used an example from a mid-list literary work, that had about six points-of-view within a single paragraph! Readable, but IMHO, going too far.

    Right now I'm polishing up a novel manuscript, and balked at some 'omni' insertions, like what someone says right after the heroine walks away. I finally decided to keep those (few) scenes, as another workaround seemed far more awkward. Also, I don't want a gazillion little separate-POV subchapters.

  4. Thanks for the comment, Paul. I love both of those movies you mention. I'm not a big one for switching points of view inside a paragraph. I divide by scene in short stories, by chapter in novels. So if I really wanted to hear what someone said after the heroine walks away, I might start in the heroine's head, and then switch to the other guy's head just as she's walking away - and then stick with him for a chapter, letting him advance the plot. It's a style I feel comfortable with, but not everyone does.