This video essay highlights some of the auteur's best use of perspective throughout his storied career.
We have explored John Carpenter's ingenious use of perspective a few times here at No Film School, but there's no better way to learn how to use the technique than simply by seeing it in action.
Even without voiceover, Carpenter's methods are easily dissected throughout the scenes highlighted in the video essay below.
"Some of the clips point to his eloquent use of space as a way to unveil key plot points, frequently emphasizing the perspective of a single character over the larger perspective of the narrative, while others suggest other, more poetic visual schema," explain Christopher Small and James Corning, the video's creators.
Carpenter's most effective use of perspective is on display in Nada's POV shots as he dons his magical sunglasses in They Live, or when the camera stalks the protagonists of Halloween. We're creeping up the porch, surveying homes, and in the backseat of the car, observing the conversations and plans of our potential victims. The camera shakes and weaves as we hysterically run away from an unknown assailant.
Carpenter spares no expense in immersing the audience in his film, whether he's putting us directly into the shoes of his protagonist or throwing them down the street to play the part of an innocent bystander. Voyeurism, in fact, plays a huge role in this strategy; here, Carpenter borrows a page from Hitchcock, who was an avid believer that his films had eyes of their own. For both Hitchcock and Carpenter, their movies are aware of the spectator’s gaze as much as the audience is aware they're watching a movie.