Surprising Angles

Seeing things from different perspectives is so important.

A case in point: the movie Hero. As I watched the Chinese epic film recently, I was fascinated by how it told the same series of events from different viewpoints, each set apart by its own color. And within each retelling, there were astonishing camera shots. It got me thinking about how surprising angles relate to creativity and life.

Surprising angles: creativity Seeing life from a variety of outlooks is a hallmark of a creative person. Good children’s illustrators move the viewer around – now looking from below; now hovering above; in close; pulled far back. Movie directors do this, too. There’s an amazing shot in Hero that shows two swordsmen running on the surface of a lake, seen from under the water looking up. It elicited a whispered, “Cool!” from my boys and me. It was an unexpected, refreshing angle.

Surprising angles: the gospels Seeing the same story from different angles is a technique God uses in the gospels. We don’t just have the story of Jesus, we have the story from four distinctive approaches. The dissimilarities between the gospels bother some people; to me, they give the account real depth. It’s like the way we physically see things: take the viewpoint of one eye and you have information. Add in the same information from the slightly altered perspective of the other eye, and you have three-dimensional reality. Take the vision of four similar-but-unique gospels, and you have a wonderfully vibrant picture of Jesus.

Surprising angles: drawing When I teach drawing to kids, I push them to see a scene in a way that’s different than straight on. It’s not easy. That’s partly due to how seldom we view life from anything but standing eye-level. We are too often prisoners of our single vantage point.

So this morning, while my daughter ate her breakfast, I lay down by her chair on the dining room rug. I wanted to get a new perspective on this daily routine. It was, I know, an odd thing to do. But Grace, having a typically flexible four-year-old brain, took it in stride. She peered down at me and said, “I must look like a giant to you.”

I smiled and thought: Attagirl.

Bruce Van Patter

all material ©2005 Bruce Van Patter