Thought Vomit #165: ft. Dutch Angles


I like Dutch Angles, but only when they’re used right. I’ve noticed them being used more and more on US television as establishing shots.

Oddly enough, Dutch Angles, or Dutch Tilts, or The Batman Angle (more later), are actually named for their use in German Expressionist Cinema. Thus, Deutsche became Dutch, obviously.

Most people will be familiar with the technique, especially if they watched the 1960s Batman television series. Here’s one:

Holy Camera Angles
Calm yourself Boy Wonder

And here’s another one:

Skew Whiff
Whiffy Skew

Tim Burton makes extensive use of them in films like Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, as does Terry Gilliam, and of course Orson Welles. Roger Ebert noticed their excessive use in Battlefield: Earth, stating:

The director, Roger Christian, has learned from better films that directors sometimes tilt their cameras, but he has not learned why.

John McTiernan also uses them to great effect in Die Hard, juxtaposing Hans Gruber and John McClane. For the most part, McClane is framed with a Dutch Tilt, while Hans has an altogether more straight composition, but when John realises Hans true identity, we are given a visual clue when the angle on Hans begins to slowly change.

But my all time favourite scene that utilises them is actually from Mission Impossible, linking them indelibly in my mind to Brian de Palma forever.

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