Trunk shot

A cinematic camera angle which captures film from inside the trunk of a car.

The trunk shot is a cinematic camera angle that captures film from inside the trunk of a car. Though the trunk shot can be produced by placing the camera inside the trunk, the considerable bulk of a conventional movie camera and camera operator makes this difficult. Therefore, the shot is usually "cheated" by having the art department place a trunk door and some of the trunk frame close enough to the camera to make it appear to be shot from within a car. The trunk show is a specialized type of low-angle shot.

This camera angle is often noted to be the trademark of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. Although he did not invent it, Tarantino popularized the trunk shot, which is featured in Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, From Dusk Till Dawn, Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Inglourious Basterds. In Death Proof, Tarantino's traditional shot looking up at the actors from the trunk of a car is replaced by one looking up from under the hood.

Possibly the earliest trunk shot can be noted in the 1948 movie by Anthony Mann (though credited to Alfred L. Werker), He Walked by Night when the police are inspecting the contents of a murder suspect's trunk. Another use of the shot is in 1967 film In Cold Blood (directed by Richard Brooks) after the two outlaws cross the borders to Mexico in a stolen car. A trunk shot appears also in George Miller's 1985 movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome when Max, Master, and the savage children are following Jedediah's son while escaping from their chasers guided by Entity. It is also used in the John Hughes film Uncle Buck (1989), wherein Buck (John Candy) opens his trunk to reveal a tied up teenager who cheated on Buck's niece. The 1992 film Sneakers contains a trunk shot when Robert Redford's character is kidnapped. There is also a trunk shot used in A Good Day to Die Hard when John McClane and his son Jack find a trunk full of guns and ammo in a car they are about to steal. Paul Thomas Anderson used the shot in his short film Cigarettes & Coffee (1993). In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006), there is a scene with a similar perspective, where Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth, and Norrington find a buried chest and the camera looks up to them from inside the hole in the ground that the chest is in.

Key Terms

cinematic camera angle
trunk shot

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Trunk shot
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Last modified on June 13 2020
Content adapted from Wikipedia
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