Spineless: POV is Everything

Sometimes, point of view is everything. It can determine how much we see, how much we understand and how much we believe to be true. It often shapes our entire experience. And film is particularly powerful as a medium for shaping perception. It can be masterful in disguising the truth of a moment simply by virtue of the placement of a camera, and the omission of certain information. Because what we don’t see and what is obscured might be the very thing that creates the point of view entirely.

A moment of frustration in Roni Chadash's
A moment of frustration in Roni Chadash’s “Spineless”

Such is the case with Spineless, a clever short by Israeli dancer/choreographer Roni Chadash in which the framing creates trickery right before our eyes. Her back is completely hidden, and the expressive, gestural movement of Chadash’s arms and head in the frame, along with the absence of the rest of her torso, creates an almost freakish illusion. Although the camera does not move once and we understand what is hidden, we nevertheless willingly suspend disbelief. The choreography – all arms and face – is smart and familiar… We’ve all felt this way at one point or another. In reading her notes, Chadash explains in broken English that the film is a metaphor for “how we fit ourselves into society, and let other people’s criticism affect us.” “The hands,” she explains, “are a metaphor to the outside influence on our souls.” Spineless is about the influence of other people’s opinions on identity, and losing the very thing that holds us all together as individuals. At just over two minutes, with music by Chilly Gonzales, it’s well worth watching. Enjoy.

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