David Fincher’s obsessive attention to detail has resulted in critically-acclaimed (and sometimes cult hit) movies. After his Alien 3 was drastically and disastrously recut, he’s been driven to have more control and final cut on everything that came after. Those works include Se7en, The Game, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, and four episodes of the brand new Netflix series Mindhunter, which our own Alan Sepinwall praised, saying it “justifies its existence not only by being so good, but by showing the foundation so many others have been built upon.”
These projects have something in common, and no, we aren’t talking about the refrigerators again. As Nerd Writer lays out in the video above, Fincher uses a subtle, precise technique across these varied works that effectively “hijacks your eyes” so you identify with the character on screen.
Fincher moves the camera — sometimes just barely — to match the movements of the people in the frame. Whether its a tilt, a pan, a tracking shot, or a mixture of those, Fincher moves the camera with the character, and the speed of movement may increase based on how emotional the character is. It’s virtually undetectable in some scenes, but your brain registers those little eye movements we make in tune with the character, and the end result is feeling more empathy for the character we’re literally moving with.
If Fincher sticks to this technique when he directs World War Z 2, let’s hope he moves the camera with Brad Pitt and not with of the zombies, or we’ll be getting motion sickness.