I’m sure you’ve noticed that whenever a movie needs to show someone drowning they’re very careful about how they do it. For example, in the clips below from “Titanic” and “Open Water,” we see very controlled ways of losing one’s breath.
In today’s post, we ask ourselves: why is this? Is it simply an aesthetic choice to avoid too much gore and violence? Or is there a deeper message we need to understand when we see characters drowning in movies?
In any case, this reminds us of the importance of studying cinema which not only allows you to enjoy great stories and aesthetics but also gives us the chance to deconstruct what a particular scene is trying to communicate.
The first one is to put the camera at a fixed point underwater while filming everything above it. This is seen in the movie “Schindler’s List”
Another way to film underwater with a real camera and actors would be what we mentioned before: using two cameras. Put one on the surface with the actors, and one underwater filming everything below it. The actors are actually really close to the bottom of the water, but their point of view is meant to be that of someone drowning.
Through video editing, we can change the point of view and make them look like they’re above water while they’re actually drowning. This is seen in “The Lord of the Rings”.
This makes sense when you consider that many actors are used to breathing air even when they are pushing themselves underwater for longer periods of time, so it is easier if they don’t have to hold their breath during a take.