…When I first viewed this clip, it was titled ‘SOME HERO STRAPPED A GOPRO CAMERA ONTO AN EAGLE AND THE FOOTAGE IS BREATHTAKING’.
Chapter three of John S. Douglass and Glenn P. Harden’s The Art of Technique: An Aesthetic Approach to Film and Video Production, titled ‘Point of View’, explains the importance of point of view shots with regard to digital story-telling. The authors write:
- POV shots momentarily shift the storytelling to a first-person account from a character’s point of view.
The creator’s voice can be expressed through the image and sound in POV shots. Documentaries often use this technique.
My favorite documentary is Restrepo.
It’s a great example of POV shots because the cameras on the soldiers’ helmets are often used during combat scenes. The shots transport the viewer into the battle so well that the the chaos and danger feel tangible.
Another type of POV is the second-person shot. The difference lies in who it is addressing. Instead of saying “This is what I am experiencing”, as a first-person POV does, a second-person shot addresses the audience and directs “you”.
Third person point of view is used when a story is told from the observer perspective. Restrepo uses first, second, and third point of view to immerse the viewer in the action and into the psyche of a soldier.
But what is Restrepo attempting to tell the audience by adopting these points of view?
Douglass and Harden say “We involve ourselves in propaganda whenever we undertake a fiction or nonfiction production with the major purpose of convincing our audience of a particular set of principles, beliefs, or opinions”. I have watched Restrepo several times, and I am still trying to understand its message.
Because it is about war, I originally thought the documentary has a political attitude. But I realized that it portrays both American political parties as equally valid. The horrible conditions that the soldiers must endure represent a Democratic stance on war, while the voices of the soldiers themselves provide evidence for the Republican perspective.
Now, I believe Restrepo tells a story of human emotion, struggle, and triumph. It is about what it means to be human, rather than the war. Go and watch it on Netflix!