DEC Scan Journal : February 2013
Volume 32, February 2013 30 Contents Editorial Currents Teaching & learning Research Curriculum support Share this Resource reviews Exploring choices from a system of options for point of view in images in The lost thing Usually, the issue of who is telling the story is determined by reference to the verbal text only, but the question of who sees, or from whose point of view we experience the story, can apply to both the verbal text and the images. The images can position the viewer to assume different viewing personas. One option is to position the viewer as an outside observer, but the viewer can also be positioned as having the same perspective as one of the characters in the story, or as having a visual perspective that was not identical with, but nevertheless similar to that of a character, so that the viewer sees along with the character. Painter and her colleagues identify three methods by which viewers can be positioned as if they were one of the characters in the image (Painter, 2007; Painter, Martin et al. in press). The first method is by depicting just the part of the body that could be seen by the focalising character, such as the hands or feet out in front of the unseen body. Since the reader can see only the part of the body that would be visible to the focalising character, then the reader is positioned as if s/he were the focalising character – with that character’s point of view (see also Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006, pp.143–144). A similar effect is created when only the shadow or partial shadow of the focalising character is included in such a way that while out collecting bottle- tops at a beach. Having guessed that it is lost, he tries to find out who owns it or where it belongs, but the problem is met with indifference by everyone else, who barely notice its presence. Each is unhelpful; strangers and parents are all unwilling to entertain this uninvited interruption to day-to-day life. Even the boy’s friend is unable to help, despite some interest. The boy feels sorry for this hapless creature, and attempts to find out where it belongs. Eventually they find a kind of utopian haven, inhabited by other such bizarre creatures, and the boy and the lost thing part company. The book and movie versions are, of course, the same story, with the content being almost identical and with only modest changes in the verbal narration. Both versions use essentially the same minimalist style of drawing characters — minimalist in the sense of not being realistic or naturalistic, but using simple dots and circles for eyes and not being concerned to have correctly proportioned head size or body parts — and the characters look very much the same in the book and the movie. What is strikingly different is the deployment of the interpersonal aspects of the images that construct the interactive relationship between the represented participants and the viewer. This is particularly so with the social distance and the nature of the contact achieved by the gaze of the characters directly at the viewer (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2006), as well as difference in point of view (Painter, 2007; Painter, Martin et al. in press; Unsworth, in press). Other classic literary picture books, such as Beatrix Potter’s The tale of Peter Rabbit have been made into animated television series (Jackson, 1992). A substantial number of well- known picture books have been produced as animated versions in CD-ROM format. These included stories such as George shrinks (Joyce 1985 & c1994), Stellaluna (Cannon, 1993; Random House/Broderbund, 1996) and The polar express (Van Allsburg, 1985 & 1997). More recent years have seen the frequent appearance of movie versions of established literary picture books as box office successes — highly celebrated within broad popular culture — as was the case with the recent movie versions of (i) Where the wild things are (Jonze, 2009), (ii) Fantastic Mr Fox (Anderson, 2009) from the picture book by Roald Dahl (1974), (iii) The polar express (Zemeckis, 2004) from the well-known picture book by Chris Van Allsburg (1985) and (iv) Hugo (Scorsese, 2011) from the Caldecott medal winning, illustrated story, The invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (2007). The lost thing In 2011, Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann received an Oscar at the Academy Awards in the United States for the best animated short film The lost thing (Ruhemann & Tan, 2010), from the original picture book by Shaun Tan (2000). This is a humorous story about a boy who discovers a bizarre looking creature The images can position the viewer to assume different viewing personas.