Did anybody notice the extended shots of the backs of characters' heads in House of Cards? I am wondering if those have any symbolism or intended value.

  • 3
    Do you have any particular examples of such camera shots?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 10:05
  • I really haven't noticed this at all, but I might not have been paying enough attention. Wondering if it's a look past shot, where they are showing the back of someone's head while focusing on someone else's face? Like @NapoleonWilson said, please provide some context. Commented Feb 21, 2014 at 11:23
  • Thanks for answering and I'll be on the lookout for each one as I rewatch with a friend. The shot I'm talking about centers the frame around the back of the head, and it is the only thing in focus. I'm sure that both Underwood have had a couple of these shots. And I'm pretty sure I remember one with Rachel and Russo. Each time has been quiet and after a decent sized moment.
    – user8165
    Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 0:27
  • Example? Make at least one screenshot, pls
    – Green
    Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 18:30

1 Answer 1


Opinion-based, but one of the major themes in House of Cards is control of information. The Underwoods thrive because they are able to conceal their own intentions, find out as much as possible about their targets and feed the proper information to proxies like Zoe, Stamper or Russo. Although I can't think of specific examples off the top of my head, back-of-the-head shots involve the viewer in this information play. They're almost the equivalent of Underwood's camera asides. They make the viewer feel like most of the characters, under informed and manipulated.

I thought of a specific example. There's a moment around the end of Season 1 beginning of Season 2 where there's a ten second or so shot from behind of the Underwoods sitting on a couch. It's an invitation for the viewer to try to be smarter than they are, to figure out the plans and emotions of that monolithic partnership. It makes the series more entertaining to put the burden of decoding their characters on the viewer.

  • Thank you for that! I appreciate the time it took to answer. This is great stuff and Thank you for geek in out with me!
    – user8165
    Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 0:28
  • 1
    That's so sweet of you to genuinely thank me! I think we won the Internet.
    – vastra360
    Commented Feb 22, 2014 at 0:29

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