Imagining from the inside
AbstractThe cinematic technique of point-of-view shots is meant to give spectators a film character’s point-ofview. In ‘Imagining from the Inside’, Murray Smith claims that point-of-view shots allow viewers to ‘imagine seeing as the character does’ and this imagining in turn promotes imagining the character ‘from the inside’, thereby fostering empathy with the character. I argue, against Smith, that the cinematic technique of point-of-view shots does not prompt viewers to ‘imagine seeing as the character does’ for two reasons: first, such shots do not give us a character’s perspective in any literal sense, but what I call a ‘symbolic perspective’; second, the very concept of ‘imagining seeing’ is problematic in that it places us on the same ontological level as that of fictional characters. I agree with Smith that point-of-view shots promote a qualitatively different emotional engagement in spectators and that they are powerful prompts to ‘imagining from the inside’, while I show that he conflates this Waltonian notion with Currie’s ‘personal imagining’ and with the idea of empathizing with a character.
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