The History Of The POV

Entirely, incredibly, shot from a first person perspective, bonkers Russian sci-fi Hardcore Henry puts you in the action like never before. Not that other films haven’t tried…

Napoléon (1927)

Almost as ambitious as the little emperor himself, Abel Gance pretty much invented the epic with his unfinished silent masterpiece. Amongst a long, long list of technical achievements, Gance also invented the POV shot by wrapping his camera in sponges and having his actors punch the lens – recreating the effect of being hit in the face.
Lady in the Lake
The Lady In The Lake (1947)

Almost seventy years before Henry got Hardcore, actor (and father to Samantha in Bewitched) Robert Montgomery made the first fully first-person film. It might not be the best movie, but Montgomery nevertheless contributed an important new chapter to the evolving language of cinema.
Dark Passage
Dark Passage (1947)

Released a few months after The Lady In The Lake, director Delmer Davis did the same thing as Robert Montgomery – but he did it better and quicker. He also did it with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, which makes the film’s 30-odd minute POV sequence all the cooler.
Vertigo (1958)

Leave it to Alfred Hitchcock to perfect a camera move. Taking the POV and making it mean something, Hitch played around with subjective viewpoints in his masterpiece – using the first person perspective to play with themes of obsession and voyeurism.
Peeping Tom
Peeping Tom (1960)

Hitchcock’s Psycho could have made this list, but Michael Powell’s British horror (released the same year) did everything better. The story of a serial killer who murders people with his camera, the POV entered the ’60s on a smart, self-aware wave of Freudian meta-linguistics.
Strange Days
Strange Days (1995)

Jump forward to the ’90s and the POV is losing its novelty. Videogames, camcorders and key shots in movies like Terminator, Robocop and The Evil Dead forced Kathryn Bigelow to do something different for her sci-fi thriller – showing bank heists, executions and sex scenes in seamless first-person shots for the very first time.
Blair Witch Project
The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Spawning the “Found Footage” (or “Shaky Cam”) genre, The Blair Witch Project was the first mainstream movie to use the POV to give the cameraman a character – instead of pretending that what we’re seeing is through our own eyes.
Russian Ark
Russian Ark (2002)

Filmed in a single, unbroken shot that moves through Saint Petersburg’s Winter Palace – Alexander Sokurov casts the camera as “the ghost of the narrator”, drifting through 300-years of history and, somehow, through 96 minutes and a cast of hundreds without a single cut.
Doom (2005)

Acknowledging the debt owed to videogames for pushing the envelope of the POV, Dwayne Johnson’s shoot ’em up sci-fi featured five minutes of full FPS action – a truly mad taster of what’s on offer in full in Hardcore Henry...