How the Geometry of Movies Can Change the Way We Think

By Casey Chan on at

Circles. Triangles. Squares. Those aren’t the things you expect to see in a film, but they've been using shapes to subtly influence emotion for a long time. Circles are lovable, triangles are evil, and squares are boring. Now You See It highlights the geometry used in shots to show you how movies use shapes to manipulate your feelings.

A villain is usually portrayed with sharper features to represent their harshness—think Maleficent or Darth Vader. The good guys are softer and rounder to make them appear more lovable and huggable—think Mickey Mouse or Baloo from The Jungle Book. And squares are used for boring and old-fashioned characters like Carl Fredricksen from Up, because squares are squares (duh).

This use of geometry is most pronounced in animation, because the filmmakers can literally draw the character to make them represent a certain shape. But geometry is used in all sorts of movies. You can notice lines that point our eyes in a certain direction in The Shining, or lines that make a character look trapped in Catch Me If You Can.

Movies hide all sorts of geometry in plain sight. You just have to look for it.