The two shot

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What does it do?

  • Includes two characters in the same composition
  • Common use of the two shot is as the master shot for covering a conversation, instantly suggests there is a connection between the characters (audience has to evaluate the relation)
  • Blocking of the characters in a two shot can make a vivid narrative point about the dynamics of their relationship
  • Using only a two shot to cover a conversation nis that the audience will „edit“ the scene themselves, by shifting attention from one character to the other
  • When you use a combination of increasingly tighter shots to suggest something meaningful is taking place, the audience can afford to be passive, since the context of the scene is being revealed to them by the progression of the shots through editing (Fincher Quote, Jackson on close ups)
  • When the composition remains constant and no editing is used, the audience has to become active, constantly searching for clues to decode the dramatic intent of the scene


Examples of use

Drive (2011)This is one of the most famous shots from Drive directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. The elevator scene is a scene about the hard contrast between love and brutality.

As Ryan Gosling has entered a troubled stage trying to help Irene, her husband and her child, he soon will reveal his second personality. It stands in deep contrast to the shy, romantic, careing and loving Ryan we get to as he meets Irene that creates the magical atmosphere we love so much. This scene is so extreme on the one hand the driver, for the first time, shows physical action of attraction to Irene which has been build up the whole time right before turning around commiting a brutal act of violence in order to protect Irene and being forced to leave her. Irene starts to get a little but extreme glimpse at the second personality and past of her protector.

  • slight low angle shot to announce the act of power following afterwards
  • wide field of view, a lot of space around the two characters while the center of a frame shows intimacy and closeness, elevator would offer more room but the driver deliberately chooses to “invade” Irene’s privacy zone

This is an iconic two shot from one of the, if not the best, movies ever made, David Fincher’s “Fight Club”. It shows Tyler Durdan and the unnamed protagonist who met by “accident” on a flight asked him for help as his appartment got mysteriously destroyed. Tyler is a very abnormal charracter with very different views on the world as it becomes apparent in this scene.

  • relatively symmetrical composition (narrative function, shot could be mirrowed and thus could the characters …)
  • wide field of view to showcase the location, a dirty enviroment, which is sympthomatic for the whole atmosphere of the movie
  • both characters are standing on eye level, showing two very different, opposing characters (as also shown through the wardrobe) while being essentially the same person (gives the shot a whole other level of narrative depth)
  • still some space between the two as the narrator is still a bit reluctant about the person he just met

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