It’s very interesting and provoking to realize the truth behind how David Fincher operates behind the camera. Many people might never realize this as they simply get into the films that Fincher directs without really knowing why. But upon watching this clip it made so much sense that it could no longer be denied, Fincher in effect makes you care about the movie through the characters and their many different interactions from the beginning to the end. How does he do this though? He keeps in step with the characters or the focus of the shot every step of the way, making sure that your eyes will track every bit of movement as the camera follows whoever it is focused upon at that moment.
The narrator makes a great point. Who are you going to identify with more, the character that is being followed by the camera or the character that is in focus one moment and then moves independently of the camera the next? Our eyes are built to focus upon the natural movement that we see in the world and in a sense Fincher is mimicking their movements and interaction with their environment by remaining in step with the individuals throughout the scene. It’s not a quick shot and cut away, he will effectively pan, tilt, and run with the characters so that the audience can experience what the character is going through with each passing second.
A lot of you might be wondering why this matters. The truth of it is that it might not depending upon how you enjoy your film experience. But many folks will actually find it more entertaining to actually feel the emotion and sense of urgency within the film as they are propelled along with the character or the moment in a way that makes them feel as though they are there but still well enough removed that they can be a part of the story without actually being IN the story. It might seem a little confusing but this is how a good director will pull you into the film or show, by making it feel as though you are there and are sharing the moment with the actors.
It’s not a perfect method since it can leave some people dizzy and make others a little anxious, but this is highly subjective and isn’t a serious detriment to Fincher’s method. Instead he is seeking to keep the audience’s attention by getting their eyes to follow the shot and therefore draw them even further into the movie while still telling the story and keeping it interesting enough to hold them in place. In other words he’s drawing upon one of the oldest tricks in the book by keeping the motions smooth and natural so that the human eye will actually desire to keep pace with what they are seeing.
Think about it. If there’s movement anywhere near your field of vision the temptation to look at it, to follow it, is sometimes too powerful to resist. You have to actively force yourself to focus and ignore anything else going on. Now if you’re in a movie theater and are fully invested in the story, your eyes are going to go where the director leads, especially if the film follows one character or one scene continuously without giving a different vantage point each second. It’s a very natural process that Fincher uses with great skill.