Subjective Camera in Hitchcock Movies

The creative use of subjective camera is one of Hitchcock's major contributions to cinema history.

The classic subjective Camera Example: watch - see - react

Subjective Camera in Jamaica Inn


This is the classic use of subjective camera. We see a character seeing something, then share with her/him what is seen, then we see the reaction. This scene is from Jamaica inn when the gang is about to hang the traitor.

Subjective camera in The Ring (1927)

At the wedding party the trainer (Gordon Harker) thinks he sees Jack and Corby starting to fight. His vision is obviously blurred by his alcohol consume.

Subjective camera in The Ring (Alfred Hitchcock, 1927)

Subjective camera in The Ring (Alfred Hitchcock, 1927)

Subjective camera in The Ring (Alfred Hitchcock, 1927)

Subjective camera in The Ring (Alfred Hitchcock, 1927)


Subjective Camera Shots in Champagne (1928)

The kissing couple is seen through a champagne glass near the end of Champagne (1928).


The 39 Steps (1935)


Truffaut: at the beginning of the movie, when Robert Donat is locked up in a flat in which a woman has been stabbed, he notices from the window two spies pacing back and forth in the street. You sho'vved those spies from his viewpoint; the camera was in the room and the spies were outside, on the sidewalk. They were shown from a distance. But in the remake Ralph Thomas has two or three close shots of the spies in the street. Because of this the scene loses its whole impact; the two men are no longer strange and sinister and there is simply no reason to feel afraid for the hero.
Hitchcock: It's really too bad; they miss the whole point. It's obvious that you can't change your viewpoint in the midst of a situation of that kind.

Francois Truffaut: Hitchcock



Subjective camera in Saboteur

Barry Kane is watching the detective through the water while he is hiding in the river.

Subjective Camera in The Wrong Man

In an interesting subjective shot in The Wrong Man, the camera moves around like a ferris wheel as Manny Balestreros leans toward the wall in his prison cell. It is the camera - the voyeur - that is dizzy due to the identification with the man who is wrongly accused and imprisoned. A subjective shot taken from an objective point of view.

Francois Truffaut: The real problem is with the direction. You're trying to make the public identify with Fonda, but when he goes into his cell, for instance, you show the walls spinning in front of the camera. That's an antirealistic effect. I feel it would have been a good deal more convincing if you had simply shown Henry Fonda sitting on a stool in the cell.
Alfred Hitchcock: Maybe so, but wouldn't that be rather dull?
(Francois Truffaut: "Hitchcock")