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Point-of-view and literary design

by Casey Riffel

The opening sequence of Crank (d. Neveldine and Taylor, 2006), one of the purest action films ever made, demonstrates no fewer than three types of point-of-view. Within the first three minutes of the film, the camera is initially identified with the vision of the film's protagonist, Chev Chelios. Hyperventilating and unsteady on his feet, Chelios stumbles through his apartment, dragging the disorientated spectator along with him. This immediate placement of the viewer with the poisoned protagonist expresses the most basic rationale of the action film: to produce a physical sensations in the viewer, particularly a vicarious rush of adrenaline. 

Indeed, the entire film takes this bodily response as the impetus for its plot: it is immediately revealed to the viewer that Chelios must shock his body into every-increasing surges of adrenaline in order to counteract the poison. Chelios and the viewer start as one and continue, closely bound, through the headlong journey. But the entire film is not shot from this first-person point-of-view. As the clip shows, there is also a close, limited third-person point-of-view in which Chelios appears on screen while the narration remains primarily limited to his perspective. Additionally, there are moments of freeze-frame which emphasize the hand of the director ("authorial point-of-view") in further creating a kinetic experience of the action film.

This clip is intended to illustrate course concepts from CTCS 190 at USC.

Crank opening - Literary Design and Point-of-view

The opening sequence of the film Crank, intended as an illustration of the concept of point-of-view in contemporary film-making.

from Crank (2006)
Creator: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
Distributor: Lakeshore Entertainment / Lions Gate
Posted by Casey Riffel