Perspective is a funny thing. How we perceive the world around us lends more for our lives than what may actually be going on. We’re all the stars in our every day lives so everything will effect us differently than the person right next to us.
Walk into a coffee shop and realize that they are out of your favorite donut. Our usual thought is, “How could this happen to me? THEY are out of MY favorite donut. This is just not MY day” or something to that effect, with varying levels of melodrama. I for one take donuts seriously so there’s usually tears involved. But here’s the thing: “they” and “you” really have nothing to do with each other. They simply ran out of a type of donut and your experience, your perspective, is what’s ruining your day.
The fluid aspects of perspective can even be messed with deliberately. Look on YouTube for any horror movie cut as a comedy or vice versa and you’ll see what I mean. Tweaking things for an audience in the slightest of ways can make a person’s experience drastically different. A zoomed in shot, differently lighting, wider framing can make the experience of the same scene seem entirely different. The short above plays with camera angles, lines of voice-over, and slightly differing details of the same scene to tell a few different stories of the same experience.
Directed by Taylor Engel and produced for the Sploid Short Film Festival, The Pavement starts as flashes of memory of a romantic evening but as details begin to be shown — and remembered by the narrator — unravels into a story of murder with a mysterious third party. The style, both in filming and voice-over, is quite reminiscent of Frank Millar’s Sin City, which itself was an homage of sorts to film noir. The narrator, who eventually comes to grips with what really happens that night, begins by remembering the night as a love story. As he continues to re-visit things and more details arise, we’re shown more of what really happened.
With what actually transpired, is it any wonder it’s remembered differently by the narrator? This is something we do in our every day lives. We remember what we want to remember and more importantly HOW we want to remember it. There are only two things I would want to change in this beautiful short. One, I wish the voice-over was repeated exactly the same through as the additions to voice over shoe-horn a bit of exposition into what happened as opposed to letting the visuals tell the story. And two, since it plays with memory, perspective and maybe more importantly, regret, that the short end-cap itself with the first and more flowery memory. Although I suppose the way it does end may leave more of an impact (not being punny here) that makes for a definitively more morose ending. Not that everything has to have a happy ending but I’d like to think that when we meet our demise — regardless of the circumstances — that our minds will do their best to give us a preferable perspective and leave us with a great highlight reel.
Thoughts on The Pavement? What are some of your favorite examples of forced perspective in film? Let us know in the comments below.