The Dutch Tilt

Monday, March 08, 2010 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

The Dutch Tilt, also known as The Dutch angle, Dutch tilt, German angle, oblique angle or canted angle or Batman Angle.

The Dutch tilt is a camera shot in which the camera is deliberately slanted to one side. This can be used for dramatic effect and helps portray unease, disorientation, frantic or desperate action, intoxication, madness, etc.

Dutch tilts are typically static shots but can also be used with simultaneous panning and/or tilting.

Dutch angles are frequently used by film directors who have a background in the visual arts, such as Tim Burton (in Edward Scissorhands, and Ed Wood), and Terry Gilliam, who used Dutch angles in Brazil, The Fisher King, Twelve Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Tideland to represent madness, disorientation, and/or drug psychosis. In the Evil Dead trilogy, Sam Raimi used Dutch angles to show that a character had become possessed.

Dziga Vertov's 1929 experimental documentary Man with a Movie Camera is known to contain one of the first usages of the Dutch angle, among other innovative techniques discovered by Vertov himself.

Other notable uses of the Dutch tilt can be seen in:

Batman, Dutch angles were used extensively in the original TV series and 1966 film of Batman, where each villain had his own angle. Scenes filmed in any villain's hideout, when only the chief villain and his henchmen were present, were invariably shot at an angle departing extremely from the horizontal.

The Third Man makes extensive use of Dutch angle shots, to emphasize the main character's alienation in a foreign environment. An anecdote of cinema lore alleges that once filming was completed, the crew presented director Carol Reed with a spirit level, to sardonically encourage him to use more traditional shooting angles.

It was used a lot in German films of the 1930s and 1940s. This is where the name German angle came from. The Dutch term is said to have been a mistranslation of the German Deutsch.

adds: Generally horrible technique, but can be a great effect – Evil Dead, The Haunting (Robert Wise's) & Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf.