Because Brian De Palma is fascinated by the inherently Byzantine nature of human activity, be it war, detective work, murder, or espionage, it makes perfect sense that he would be drawn to the split diopter shot, which uses an attachment that gives equal focus to both close and distant objects. De Palma doesn’t want us to miss anything. Even as Caruso sings on stage, the murderous Al Capone sits a matter of feet away from him, in ‘The Untouchables‘; even as a drone scratches his head in ‘Mission: Impossible,’ a stealthy thief hangs above him; even as a blond, all-American teen boy sits bored at a classroom desk, a tortured girl writhes inwardly not far away from him in ‘Carrie.’ What’s the effect? It’s a tightening in the chest, it’s a sense that there’s something we missed previously, it’s the feeling that something bad is about to happen, or could. This video by Jaume Lloret is a tight visual hymn to De Palma’s famed use of the shot–watch it, and see if you don’t feel uncomfortable afterwards.
Watch: Brian De Palma’s Split Diopter Shot Creates Worlds Upon Worlds