Cinema as an Eye – The Walking Dead

Cinema has always been a way to get away from reality and dive into another world becoming immersed in someone else story. This can sometimes push people out of their comfort zone and enrich their perspective on life depending on what they have witnessed. In cinema we become the fly on the wall allowing us to not miss a single detail but it some cases we can also feel as if we are being watched depending on the shot if it’s a point of view.

Cinema is much like a Panopticon which is an architectural prison building which allows the watchmen to observe the occupants within the cells without them even knowing and this can be used as a metaphor for cinema where we are the watchman and the characters within the story are the occupants forever unaware of our existence.

“I am an eye. I am a mechanical eye. I, a machine, I am showing you a world, the likes of which only I can see” This quote is from Dziga Vertov a famous director from Russia who was associated for his pioneer work in documentary films. This quote has so much more to it than meets the eye…. Get it? Cinema as an Eye…. Okay that was bad anyway moving on. To me this quote means a lot although we watch films from a projector or screen what we are shown is a person’s vision/ world which we know nothing about but it’s also a perspective or a light shining on who they are or what they represent.

I will be discussing more about the look and gaze covering one of my favourite shows The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead is an American horror drama television series whose main character sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes, who awakens from a coma discovering a world overrun by zombies, commonly referred to as “walkers”. Grimes reunites with his family and becomes the leader of a group he forms with other survivors. Together they struggle to survive and adapt in a post-apocalyptic world filled with walkers and opposing groups of survivors, who are often more dangerous than the walkers themselves.

Looking at The Walking Dead which is a Sci-fi is harder to encapsulate since it is not real but the group of peoples emotional beats that happen within these series are. They have their own culture within the group and have started from scratch developing a hierarchy within the group. Nominating the main character as their leader and over time make choices that may have no affect or a major effect which could mean life or death. This is a subtle ethnographic observation because we can get a sense of how people could act if this were to be true. Growing up we have all seen our fair share of zombies and apocalypse and developed a library of research or sources which provide a better understanding whether it being mere observation or symbols for example the Bio hazard symbol. This symbol immediately tells us of an imminent threat to the health or living organisms primarily that of humans this threat is usually associated with viruses or toxins.

In this scene we have the main character of The Walking dead Rick Grimes stranded under a bed due to trespassers entering the abandoned home he is occupying. He is on his own and the trespassers are extremely dangerous and would more than likely kill him so instead of engaging he decided to wait it out waiting for the opportune moment to escape.

Rick waits for a while for one of the trespassers to fall asleep who is on the bed above him to escape but the trespasser is rudely awaken by one of the other trespassers who demands a rest and tries to claim the bed. Both trespassers duke it out until one of them gives up or passes out.

This is the last thing Rick wants because this could spell disaster for him and his chance of escaping. As Rick predicts one of them is knocked to the floor and Rick is immediately stuck only to watch and hope that the trespasser on the floor does not see him.

The fight continues and the trespasser is punched into the direction of Rick Grimes which instantly makes them lock eyes with both in fear and uncertainty.


After this instant look the trespasser is put into a sleeper hold so he is unable to tell the other trespasser of Rick’s presence.


Rick can only watch with intensity hoping and praying that he passes out but during this moment of a brief 10 seconds we are shown a gaze between both Rick and the trespasser then constantly shifts back and forth between them increasing intensity with only the eyes stillness.

Even though this was brief it felt like it lasted way longer because there was no dialogue or major action to make us feel a sense of movement we are only being relied upon the intradiegetic looks.

(No Date) Available at: (Accessed: 6 December 2016).


One thought on “Cinema as an Eye – The Walking Dead

  1. I would leave out the paragraphs on the panopticon and Dziga Vertov and focus on the ‘power of the intersubjective look’. There is a philosopher David Chalmers who has a theory about zombies and consciousness – which kind of relates to this scene. Chalmers asks the question when we speak to someone or stair them in the eye how can we tell they are conscious (in the way that you know you are conscious) and not just zombies (with nothing going on behind the eyes). Sounds straight forward but volumes of papers have been written on the subject:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: