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The Semisubjective Shot or the Character from Behind — In Painting, Film and Strip Art

The semisubjective shot or the semisubjective point of view is that in which the observed character is in the line of sight, the point of view is above his back, and we, together with him, view something else in his line of site. The most common form of the semisubjective point of view is the over the shoulder shot, i. e. a shot made behind the back of one of the characters. With regard to the relationship between the observer and the observed, there are a few different uses for the image of the passive side of a character:

In the first group there is the semisubjective shot which appears with the complementary interchange of comprehensive shots of the observer and the observed. This type of representation of the characters is useful in sequences of edited dialogue and in defining the relationship among characters in interaction. They underline mutual observational communication, opinions and one and the other participants or mutual observers.

The second purpose of the semisubjective shot is in hiding the identity of a character. The observational position of character tells us that he is watching, but it does not tell us whether the one being watched has seen him. Observation is one way and mutual observational communication has not been established. Taking such a voyeuristic position only strengthens the rhetorical qualities of the shot.

The third situation deals with the observational position of a character watching a scene in the depth of the shot. In this case, there is no use of dialogue, nor is it necessarily a mysterious person we are seeing, but rather a character whom we met earlier, but who, in the given shot, is separated and removed from the background that he is watching. We, together with him, observe the situation at a distance. With regard to the relationship between the character and the background in shots which show the character from behind, it is both possible for the character and background to merge, as well as to be separate from one another. In the first case, what happens is the subjectification of the ambient, they become singularly united in the emotional charge pervading the character and the ambient, and with the separation of the foreground from the background, the »difference in worlds« can be emphasized.

In this way, i. e. depending on the context, the function and character of a scene can be changed, and this filmic exhibitory context builds both aesthetic and psychological meaning from the relationship between the observer and the observed, and from the relationship between this shot and the wider context, i. e. the film as a whole.

Davorka Perić

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