A Cultural Clash

The Ring and the Rajah
R: Harold M. Shaw. B: Anne Merwin. D: Edna Flugrath, Arthur Holmes-Gore, Vincent Clive, Edward O’Neill. P: London Film Productions. UK 1914

“Many of the films of the early 1910’s did not use a true optical point of view, but moved the camera 180 degrees in relation to the character looking off screen, so that the second shot reveals not only the object of the look, but also the ‘looker’ as well. At a key point in The Ring and the Rajah (…), the film makes use of point-of-view shots. One of these has the rajah looking intently off screen, through some open French windows. This is followed by a shot of the rajah’s rival in love, from a camera placemenr that approximates to the rajah’s optical viewpoint. The relationship between these shots was clearly not regarded as self-explanatory, and an intertitle is introduced, with the words ‘What the Rajah saw’. The next shot, which has both the looker (the rajah’s servant) and the object of the look in shot is then in turn preceded by an intertitle which states, ‘What the servant saw’, suggesting a distinct lack of confidence in the audience’s ability to read point-of-view articulations (…).”
Geoffrey Nowell-Smith: The Oxford History of World Cinema. Oxford University Press 1997, p. 134

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