"The director, Roger Christian, has learned from better films that directors sometimes tilt their cameras, but he has not learned why."
Shots taken from a canted camera angle, often from a low position. Usually used to help create a jarring, "off center" feel.
Originated in 1930s German cinema, causing it to become known as the "Deutsch angle"; this was then corrupted to "Dutch angle", its most common name. Also known as Canted Camera.
Like any trope, this can be played with. Some examples may start with a normal, "straight" angle and then shift to a Dutch Angle. Others may start with a Dutch angle tilted in one direction, and then swivel to tilt the other way, which is even more jarring.
Done right, it can create an eerie setting that isn't quite right. Done wrong - or even in the wrong places
or way, WAY too many times
, and it looks... well, a little silly.
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Anime & Manga
- Noir uses this frequently, sometimes even from a low position.
- A staple of anime, manga, and Visual Novels, which use these often and to great effect.
- Used quite a bit in Baccano!, particularly during conversations with one of the show's (many) Crazy Awesome characters.
- Avenger liberally used this trope. One scene was even drawn completely sideways for no apparent reason.
- Arata Kangatari employs this when Hinohara first enters Amawakuni and gets his first view of the capital.
- The subtler variant is used throughout the Black Comedy High Stakes, owing to the protagonist's love of Film Noir style.
- Birdemic, owing to the low-production values, couldn't shoot the interior of the car without cramming the entire camera into it.
Y'know, I gotta say it's really progressive of the people who made this movie to hire a cameraman with only one arm.
- Infamously overused (to the point that every shot is slanted) in Battlefield Earth, causing Roger Ebert to remark, "The director, Roger Christian, has learned from better films that directors sometimes tilt their cameras, but he has not learned why."
- The classic 1949 film noir The Third Man makes great use of tilted camera angles through the whole movie. After finishing the movie director Carol Reed was presented (either by the crew or a fellow director) with a spirit level to put on his camera in future projects.
- Used a lot in Do the Right Thing.
- Used in some of Terry Gilliam's films, e.g. Tideland.
- Used at the end of the first American Pie movie, when Kevin and Vicky have sex for the first time. It is extremely awkward for them, symbolized by the shot being tilted just a little too much.
- Masterfully used by John McTiernan in Die Hard in the scene when Hans and John meet face to face for the first time. John McClane is unaware (or unsure) of Hans' identity, while Hans perfectly knows who John is. John decides to give Hans a gun to protect himself. Now, for the whole movie McTiernan uses a straight angle for anything Hans-related (symbolizing Hans' straight, thought-out plan), and a Dutch angle for John (symbolizing his role as a fly in the ointment and his love for improvisation). Of course, Hans plans to shoot John, but you know before him that the gun is empty... because the camera slowly tilts in the shot of Hans aiming at John.
- Used in one scene of the movie Serenity (combined with an odd, rollercoaster-like dip) as a visual cue when River Tam is reading the minds of a room full of people.
- Used for two scenes from The Dark Knight: when Harvey Dent is tied up and falls on his side, and when the Joker is left hanging by his foot, the camera rotates to match the characters' odd angle.
- Part of Michael Bay's Signature Style. This even extends to the commercials he directed.
- Used occasionally in Brick.
- Used a lot in Bogeyman.
- Used in the 2009 film Star Trek when Spock appears before the Vulcan High Council.
- Used extensively in The Element of Crime, and combined with wild but slow camera movements, to induce a sensation of loosing directions and gravity perception in the audience (justified because the whole movie is a hypnosis-induced flashback).
- Overused by director John Patrick Shanley in his film adaptation of his play Doubt.
- Used a lot in the new movie Thor.
- Heavily abused in Curse of the Zodiac. At random times, the camera will just completely tilt to the side.
- Casino Royale 1967 uses this type of shot extensively in a sequence with Joanna Pettet's character in Berlin, appropriately in a German Expressionist-style set.
- In the first Mission: Impossible film, the angle goes very dutch when Ethan Hunt meets Kitteridge in the restaurant, underscoring Ethan's feeling that whole world has just gone askew.
- Present in the fast-food holdup scene from Falling Down, where a few canted point-of-view style panning shots pinpoint the moment when D-Fens realises it might be unreasonable to hold an entire eatery full of people hostage just because they stopped serving breakfast a few minutes before he walked in.
- Used often on the Thenardiers in Les Miserables (2012), in order to make them seem more unpleasant. It's also used at the beginning of Marius's meeting with Valjean, to reflect his excitement about being married to his daughter.
- Used extensively in Dead of Night during the nightmarish climax.
- Appears frequently in Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead trilogy. Most noticeable during a very quiet but paranoia-inducing scene near the end of the first movie; the camera starts out tilted 45 degrees to one side, shifts over, and ends the shot angled 45 degrees to the other side.
- The old-school 1960s Batman TV series habitually tilted the camera 45 degrees so you'd have a visual cue that you were in a bad guy's lair.
- Tilt the camera 90 degrees and Batman and Robin could climb up the outer wall of the building as easily as they walked along the studio floor. And talk to Sammy Davis Jr. at the same time.
- Word Of God said they actually used a 45 degree angle here, too. Why? Who knows. (Likely reason: so the capes wouldn't be "hanging" perfectly horizontally.)
- It also gives the actors some gravity to pull against, so they can brace the lower leg.
- To clarify, our heroes are walking up a 45 degree hill, with the camera tilted 45 degrees the other way, to add up to a 90 degree vertical wall.
- One fan commentary joked that this indicated that the villains were "crooked". Gutsplitting, huh?
- The official commentary said the same thing. Apparently that was the actual reasoning behind that choice of visual cue.
- The Dutch Angle became so connected with the TV series that when Star Trek: The Original Series had Frank Gorshin (who played The Riddler) on as a guest star, they threw in a few as a homage.
- This happened a lot in the old Twilight Zone series.
- The one that sticks out most is "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street", where by the end everyone is getting shot like this.
- Also used in the stand-on-shoulders scene from "Five Characters In Search Of An Exit", to make it look like actors lying on a floor are vertical. Particularly obvious with the bagpiper, whose kilt is clearly hanging down to lie on the "wall".
- A favourite of director Edgar Wright; used in Spaced, specifically when Brian and Marsha question Tim and Daisy's two-anniversary facade in the first episode. Edgar name-checks the technique in the DVD commentary.
- On TV's Mystery Science Theater 3000, most shots of Deep 13 are done with the camera tilted, though from a high angle. Justified by the fact that the Deep 13 shots we see are from an actual camera they use to communicate, which is likely at that angle.
- Justified in the UFO episode "Sub-Smash". A Skydiver submarine has become trapped on the bottom of the ocean, with its deck tilted on an angle — which subtly indicates the protagonist's increasing sense of claustrophobia.
- Good Eats is saturated with Dutch angle shots, taken from just about every conceivable place in a kitchen that one could fit a camera. Most of his appliances were built with clear backs so that these could be achieved.
- Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, especially during the Green With Evil arc. The Evil Green Ranger is so nasty that even cameras become twisted in his presence...
- Used to signify that Kira and Bashir have entered the Mirror Universe on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. They kind of overshot the angles a little, making it very distracting and hard to concentrate on the Expo Speak.
- The montage from "Amok Time", too.
- And in the episode "Wink of an Eye" to denote the scenes taking place in hyper-accelerated time.
- Seemingly used for every establishing shot in the HBO series John Adams.
- Used interestingly in the House episode "Insensitive." At the beginning, after a car accident, it shows a shot of the front of a properly oriented truck, but as the camera slowly zooms out, it rotates as well to show that the truck is actually on its side.
- Here's a challenge: try and find a steady, level shot of Samuel. Helpful hint: there aren't any.
- Used in the Babylon 5 episode "The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari" to indicate shifts between reality and Londo's hallucinations. Unusually, rather than cutting to the angle shots, the camera slowly tilts and slides into the angle as it moves with Londo.
- Nash Bridges.
- Of all shows, Family Feud in the Richard Karn era would slowly start tilting the camera to a ridiculous angle coming into/out of commercial. In the last year or two, sometimes it would tilt in one direction (rapidly), then tilt the other way so fast it was dizzying. It could be even worse coming back from commercial.
- In the Charmed episode "Charmed Again", the early scenes at a wake held in the Manor are tilted. By the end of the episode, when the Power of Three has been reconstituted, the camera is level again.
- Invoked in an episode of How I Met Your Mother when Marshall and Lily move into a new apartment, only to find that the floor is slanted. As soon as they make that realization the camera itself tilts to show what the characters are feeling.
- Used in the very last seconds of Being Human, right after the camera focuses on a revelatory object.
- A variety of angles and dynamic shots are used in Lindsey Stirling's videos, including this one. It's especially noticeable in "Spontaneous Me", where the camera ends up rotating nearly upside down while going into this shot.
- In Eternal Darkness, the more insane your character gets, the more tilted the camera gets. One cutscene in the game even began with the camera tilted and in the lowest corner of a room.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, there is one hallway in Ultimecia's Ominous Floating Castle which uses a very steep Dutch Angle, which is a tad disorienting for someone using the analog stick to move around.
- Several scenes in the satellite in Disc 3 appear at odd angles, largely to give the appearance of life in zero-gravity.
- Kane and Lynch - in addition to applying the red hue to the screen - tilts the camera a bit to indicate low health.
- Batman Arkham Asylum used this as one of many visual cues indicating that Batman is under the effects of Scarecrow's fear gas.
- The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess has several of these, with one of the more prominent examples being when Ganondorf dies while standing with the Master Sword lodged in his chest.
- Command & Conquer 3 has this in spades. Every single FMV in the Nod-side storyline is filmed in long shots of slightly acute angles.
- Final Fantasy XIII does this several times. Often from behind Vanille.
- Part of Silent Hill's Signature Style to illustrate how out-of-it the protagonists are.
- Present a few times throughout the Parasite Eve series.
- Used in Metroid: Other M, occasionally.
- The final, space-faring level of 007Nightfire uses this to illustrate gravity-less space. Pressing the "Action" button on the controller remedies the effect at the cost of a good shot.
- In the Feast Master chapter of Banana-nana-Ninja! Dutch Angles are used to illustrate Baninja's horror at having to kill and cook Mudkips.
- Starting with Act II, some of the shots for Billy and his villainous alter ego in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog began coming from odd angles, or were lit darkly, or shot as if Dr. Horrible were pressed into a corner. The closer the show got to its climax, and the more Billy progressed on his path to darkness, the more bizarre the camera shots became.
- What with The Nostalgia Critic's mockery of Battlefield Earth for overusing this, you might wonder if the liberal use of it in Kickassia was a deliberate reference. Still, this can excuse itself with parody and Mundane Made Awesome (even though it is awesome).
- This Exiern strip, when the evil sorcerer Faden (temporarily?) regains his powers during an eclipse of the moon and breaks free. Actually, the tilting starts with the last panel of the page before that, when the heroine notices something is wrong with the light.
- Used in Fleep to symbolize Jimmy's shock after the news that his wife is dead.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, when Antimony uses the Blinker Stone to see distant things, her Blinker-vision combines odd angles and Fish Eye Lens perspective.
- Used in El Goonish Shive to reflect both the eeriness of Abe getting to Ellen, and his own disorientation due to the sleep grenade here and later used to convey a ominous mysteriousness here.
- Wapsi Square uses this sometimes, such as the first panel here. This is most likely due to the author's background in photography.