I've noticed a trend recently where, in a particularly violent scene, blood will end up on the lens of the camera. It's not restricted to blood; it could be water, if it's a particularly stormy scene, or mud in, say, a battle. Any kind of liquid, really. The point is that the scene is usually pretty charged.

Has this become fashionable and, if so, why? I don't recall seeing this as much when I was younger -- but maybe I just didn't notice -- and, for me, it breaks the suspension of disbelief. I presume the production team are in control of the filming enough such that they can choose if or when this happens, rather than it being accidental. Is it a meta thing to try to suggest to the viewer that the scene is so chaotic, that even the producers can't control it?

  • 1
    I seem to recall Spielberg saying that during the beach scene in Saving Private Ryan, blood accidentally got on the lens. He thought they'd need to reshoot that shot, but thought better of it. I also recall him saying blood on the lens had never happened in cinema before. Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 16:21
  • @BrettFromLA I’m not sure that Saving Private Ryan was the first film with such an effect. This reddit conversation mentions this effect was used in Earthquake (1974). Even then, it might not be the first.
    – user43022
    Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 16:58
  • And imdb tag search shows the first film on the list as being in 1970. We can't really treat the list as being wholly accurate, but it at least indicates that this effect is by no means a recent invention.
    – user43022
    Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 17:26
  • In Children of Men in a car chase scene, it was also accidental
    – TK-421
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 6:16

2 Answers 2


It basically emotionally connects the viewer to the action or event in question.

I guess that viewers these days want to feel as though they're in the thick of the action instead of feeling somewhat isolated from it. The camera lens (or glass in front of the lens) getting dirty tells the viewer that the camera is right up close and that you (as the viewer) are involved in this.

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    Definitely a method to make it feel more realistic and connect the viewer directly to the onscreen action. But this isn't a new thing, off the top of my head the first thing I thought of was the intro to the James Bond flick Dr. No, which was released in the early 60's. You see the gunshot, then the screen drips red from the top to the bottom, as if you, yourself, were just shot and the blood was dripping over your eyes. Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 15:55

The difference between stage plays and movies is the camera. And the camera is a very subjective tool, not an objective one. It can change the tone, style, feeling, and details of the shot, just with placement and movement. A camera is a tool used to tell the story. If a director wants to show the story objectively, the camera will stay still and be far away. If, however, he wants to put the viewer right inside the story, the camera will be very close, and mimic the movements of a person, looking at stuff just like a human would do.

So making dirt, blood, water or mud splat on the camera's lens is a trick to show the viewer that he is a part of the story. You are no longer a passive viewer, you are now a part of the story.

You think you have nothing to do with for example an interrogation scene because you are just a viewer, but when after a hit some blood lands on the camera, which is your eyes, you suddenly start to feel guilty, for taking part in a violent interrogation.

So this technique is primarily used to pull the viewer deeper into the world shown on the screen, make him a part of what is happening.

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