A Little Off the Top

This video essay explores the phenomenon of excessive headroom in movies. Why frame a portrait of a character with more headroom than is necessary? The justification is argued to be usually one of two options: either the shot conveys a religious significance or it uses the architecture or environment of the scene to emphasize what the character is thinking or feeling. In either case, this type of framing is what Philip Brubaker calls: the halo shot. This video compiles several examples of this type of shot and offers specific interpretations of films by Terrence Malick and Yorgos Lanthimos, among others.

Camera Angle

Case Studies


Directing the Frame

Framing Techniques

High & Low Angle