Low-Angle Shot

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
I'd like to thank all the little people.

"When you’re above a character looking down, they feel smaller," Ruckus Skye adds. "They’re maybe not as confident or powerful. And if you look at any superhero, you’re always looking up at them. That’s a cliche, but you can do that on smaller levels and it’s more subconscious."

Refers to the practice of shooting a solitary figure from a slightly lower angle, the Low-Angle Shot magnifies the figure's height and presence in the mind of the viewer. Together with the Scully Box and clever wardrobe, it can also make shorter figures appear larger than they really are.

The inverse of the Low-Angle Shot is to shoot the figure much higher than normal, looking down on them to make them appear smaller or more insignificant. The two varieties are often combined to emphasize the extreme difference in size or power between two people.

A more Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness synonym is "subordinated viewpoint". Sub-Trope to Dutch Angle, which can be at any angle (aside from head on) and can be of more than one figure.

When shot all the way from the floor, this is known as a Worm's-Eye View, a term for the technique originally coined by Orson Welles.

Examples of Low-Angle Shot include:


  • Triumph of the Will was not the first use of this technique, but it was the first famous use of it.
  • October: Ten Days that Shook the World, is a 1927 pro-Soviet propaganda film that pioneered the technique in its demonizing of the representative of the Provisional Government. The man even sports a Hitler 'stache twenty years before it became chic for dictators to do so, hilariously enough.
  • Used and subverted, both to great effect, in Citizen Kane. In one notable shot Orson Welles as Kane looms over the camera and seems to be of a height with the windows behind him—until he walks towards them, when we realize that the room has a thirty-foot ceiling and the sills of the windows are higher than Kane's head. Welles would go to extreme lengths to set these up in Kane. One day a studio executive wandered into the set to find Welles tearing holes in the floor so he could get a satisfactorily low angle.
  • Speaking of Welles, the film adaptation of Kafka's The Trial used this shot for almost every scene in the movie.
  • Shrek: Evil dictator Lord Farquaad is introduced with dramatic music and a low-angle shot... and then he walks by a pair of guards, revealing him to be about three feet tall.
  • Referenced in the movie version of High Fidelity, where one of Rob's ex-girlfriends is talking at a school cafeteria, apparently about Gene Simmons and his use of this trick.
  • Used on Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith after his reconstruction, since Hayden Christensen is shorter than David Prowse.
  • Appears in Surf Ninjas.
  • The trope-naming General Ripper in Dr. Strangelove is shot from this angle from time to time, especially when outlining his agenda.
  • Clu in Tron: Legacy is shot in Triumph of the Will style when he gives his speech on the Rectifier, and he stands on a levitating platform so all his soldiers can see him.
  • Used in The Good Son to make Henry seem more intimidating
  • Used on Katya [dead link] in Stilyagi when she denounces Mel and throws him out of the Komsomol.
  • M includes a sequence where a man bumps into a very large, scary man on the street. The tall man is shot very low to emphasize his height, and the normal man is shot very high to seem much shorter than he is.
  • In The Super, Joe Pesci's character comes face to face with a very tall basketball player, "the Milkman." From Pesci's perspective, the Milkman is shot using a low-angle shot to seem incredibly tall. From the Milkman's perspective, Pesci is shot from above to look puny.
  • Used in Battlefield Earth to emphasize the height of the giant alien Psychlos. At least it was less corny than those big elevator boots the actors wore.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Saruman is shown high up on a tower, giving a speech. The camera then sweeps back to a Riefenstahl-esque shot of a massive army [dead link].

Live-Action TV

  • The various Japanese Super Sentai shows that form the basis of Power Rangers use the low-angle shot on the rubber-suited actor as he stands to show the Monster of the Week growing to skyscraper size.
  • Spoofed in Kamen Rider Decade. When Momotaros gets his body back, it's initially shot like a standard monster-growing-giant scene (even though Kamen Rider doesn't normally use giant monsters). Then we cut to show Decade standing right next to him, showing that he was just being his usual hammy self.
  • On Mystery Science Theater 3000, any time this shot was used in a film that Joel and the 'bots watched, Tom Servo would Lampshade it by shouting, "I'm huge!"
  • Stephen Colbert's old opening had a low-angle shot, with him pointing derisively at the camera for being shorter than him, followed by a dove's-eye-view shot where he gives a sour grapes look to the camera.
  • Visually lampshaded on Mad Men during a long conversation about new FCC guidelines on smoking in television advertising. They included the prohibition of shots of smokers from this angle, while the entire conversation was shot from such angles as Don Draper smokes a cigarette. For additional irony, the character reading out the guidelines is Roger Sterling, played by John Slattery, who directed that episode.
  • The eponymous Iron Chefs get this treatment irregardless of the chef's height in question, often preventing viewers from realizing that the acclaimed Masaharu Morimoto is a mere 5'3".

Music Videos

  • This technique was often used in music videos of the 1970s and 1980s, particularly of the heavy metal variety, to emphasize the musicians' status as larger-than-life "rock gods".
  • Done in Visual Kei or Japanese rock videos for a similar reason. Yes, that vocalist is actually 5'4" at tallest.
    • Glenn Danzig is about 5'4" as well; you wouldn't know from watching any of his videos.
  • We get this shot in Ayumi Hamasaki's music video for "Ladies Night", which features her dressed as a dictator or military leader, addressing a crowd of clones.

Newspaper Comics

  • Used in Get Fuzzy to make it look like Bucky is posing with a real car, as opposed to a small model of one.

Video Games

  • The Like a Dragon series is fond of this trope for introducing a bunch of enemy reinforcements, typically to make their entrance look imposing, but the final shot makes clear it was more done to posture than anything else.

Western Animation

  • Phaeton, who is obviously Hitler's Expy in Exo Squad, gets this treatment in propaganda broadcasts all the time, despite standing over two meters tall without any camera effects. That is, before he contracts the Automutation Syndrome.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Eeny Teeny Maya Moe", Moe gets a girlfriend through an internet dating site; the photo she sends him is taken in this style, of her in front of the Empire State Building and taken from a very low angle (so she appears almost as tall as the building due to forced perspective). When he meets her in person, she's actually about 3 feet tall - made even better when she admits that it wasn't even the real Empire State Building in the background, but that the shot was actually taken at Legoland!
  • Used in-universe in one episode of Rocket Power: while making a video, they actually show the camera being placed low, pointing near-vertically, and talk about how that makes the jumps seem higher.
  • Used in The Legend of Korra "And the Winner Is..." when the Big Bad, Amon, announces the true beginning of the anti-bending revolution, right before blowing up the Pro-bending Arena.

Real Life

  • Josef Stalin, another vertically-challenged dictator of the '30s, used this technique as well to disguise his true height.
  • David Miscavige, the leader of a different kind of army, seems quite fond of this. Other tactics to not make him look like a midget include wearing very high shoes, posing in group shots with the shortest members of the church surrounding him and the tallest members standing way in the back, and standing next to Tom Cruise a lot.
  • Benito Mussolini would always be photographed from a slightly low angle, as visible in the photo he used for his autobiography [dead link]. He was only 5' 6"...although he still dwarfed the diminutive, 5' 0" Vittorio Emmanuel III.
  • Portraits of Napoleon, as you might expect, were usually flattering, and often made him look taller than he was. Painters sometimes shortened objects near him or cut off his legs while increasing the size of his coat. In reality, Napoleon was of average size for his time. His reputation for shortness originated from a confluence of misconceptions and perpetuated enthusiastically by his archnemesis, Britain.
  • Kim Jong Il tended to do this. He also gave the illusion of height using platform shoes, vertically striped clothing, and bouffant hair.
  • Any photo of the Seattle skyline will prominently feature the Space Needle, its most famous landmark, even though the tower is a mile outside downtown and relatively short. Hence, camera tricks like this are often employed.