What is a Dutch angle? Why is it really German?

The word “Dutch” is used many times in various expressions to describe several different behaviors. Whether you’re splitting the bill after eating out with your friends or splitting the bill a little before your first date, the term is very versatile. As you may not know, the label “Dutch” is a technique commonly known as the Dutch angle and is also present in modern Hollywood.

But what is a Dutch angle, and is it really even a Dutchman? Let’s check.

What is a Dutch angle?

Simply put, a Dutch angle (also known as a Dutch tilt) is a type of camera shot used in photography and film that places the subject at a (slight) angle. Examples of this technique can be found in modern movies and television as a whole.

Technically, this visual is achieved by tilting the camera along the x-axis so that the horizon of the shot is not parallel to the bottom line of the camera frame.

This angle is usually used to express tension, distress, or anxiety to the viewer. In short, camera angles were originally particularly popular in the horror and thriller genres, but as movies and television evolved, so did the technique. Today, Dutch angles can be recognized in almost every type of visual media, from stock images and selfies to award-winning movies.

Where did the Dutch Angle name come from?

The technique may be relatively simple, but the history of the Dutch angle is certainly interesting. To understand where the word “Dutch angle” comes from, we need to go back to the 1910s, when Europe was on the verge of war. The German government quickly dominated the domestic film industry, monitored all content and output of popular German filmmakers, and banned all foreign media.

This is because the German film industry has developed a unique voice and tone that was heavily influenced by German and Austrian expressionist painters such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Max Beckmann. It meant taking a different approach.As a result, German films of that era were filled with memorable images and awkward angles, offering films such as: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920)-A movie widely recognized as a pioneer of the Dutch angle-a very unique tone and appearance.

You may be wondering what this has to do with the Netherlands, but the answer is “nothing”. As you may have already guessed, the Dutch angle was actually called the German angle (also known as the German angle). Over time, as the technique became more popular among international filmmakers such as Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, the two words swapped and are now known as the Dutch Angle.

An example of a Dutch angle in a modern movie

So how popular is it today? Now you can find examples and variations of Dutch angles across almost every movie genre, from thriller to comedy. In particular, some directors are known to use Dutch angles effectively, but some films are known to be a little less successful.

The following is a list of famous contemporary films featuring Dutch Angle.

  • Thor (Kevin Feige, 2011)
  • Do the right thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
  • snatch (Guy Ritchie, 2000)
  • Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)
  • Batman (Leslie H. Martinson, 1966)
  • Corpse bride (Tim Burton, 2005)

VOX video

Want to know more about this famous movie technique? Check out the video below.

So the next time you decide to go to the bank with your friends and family, whether it’s a local cinema or sitting on your couch at home on Netflix, keep an eye on the Dutch Angle example. Please!

What is a Dutch angle? Why is it really German?

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