cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

FILM Finger pointing



In Lonesome Jim [2205] directed by Steve Buscemi, starring Casey Affleck and Liv Tyler (watch it once/ forget it), Jim’s drug-dealing uncle tells Jim:

Because when you point a finger at somebody else, you’re pointing three at yourself and a thumb at the sky.

Admit it you tried it out and saw no thumb pointing to the sky.


There are plenty of fingers pointing on the web, but not much finger-pointing in films.


There is the finger pointing of Antoine Doinel in Truffaut’s films and other characters played by Jean-Pierre Leaud, for example Alexandre in La Maman et la Putain (The Mother and the Whore), dir. Jean Eustache, 1973, and Leaud in Truffaut’s, La Nuit Américaine [1973] (Day for Night).

Real pointing usually includes thumb in the same direction as the index finger, or thumb holding the folded second finger and pretty much pointing the same the direction as the finger. Thumb to the sky tells a good story but it’s shooting.








FILM finger point 3


Obama point 2


obama points finger


















Thomas Tallis on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week  talking about his latest book, Michelangelo’s Finger. Here a brief explanation.


I’ve also got a thing about the way electric torches are used in film. Why do they always hold them up in ‘raised fist salute’ instead of the more natural ‘watering the garden with a hose’ style? Head and shoulders framing. Medium shot fine. Close-up: torch can’t be seen.

February 20, 2010 Posted by | film [its techniques], Independent film, Steve Buscemi, Truffaut | Leave a comment