If your back is turned to another person, that usually indicates a number of things in conventional body language: Stay away. The conversation is over. Do not communicate with me. But it can also indicate a conscious disavowal of an action or state of affairs. If a camera, as in Steve McQueen’s ‘Shame,’ shows us someone’s back, it could mean a number of things–that the character is not someone whose full identity we are meant to know, for instance. Or, in ‘Shame,’ it could mean the character onscreen, namely Michael Fassbender’s Brandon, is not able to entirely face his actions. The newest entry for "Between Frames" on Vimeo shows us a collection of shots of Brandon from behind: as he moves through his apartment, as he enters the subway, as he has sex. These shots all build towards… what, exactly? It seems that McQueen is showing us Brandon as Brandon wishes to be seen, a curious move for such a controlled filmmaker. The character doesn’t want his addictive behavior to be entirely known, despite the fact that his compulsion drives him and shapes his life within the film. This is a chilling assembly of scenes which makes its point memorably.
Watch: How Steve McQueen’s Camera Highlights the Shame in ‘Shame’