Author Archives: Cynthia

“Between 2 Deaths” and “Vertigo”

This short film by Wago Kreider is directly inspired by Vertigo, as the artist seemed to have chopped up a particular sequence and paralleled it with the present day setting of the film. What the artist seemed to have done was take footage of the set in 2006 and cut that up and matched it with the cut up graveyard scene. This juxtaposition is bizarre but very interesting. The artist has the images fading frequently with each one to two second scene. As a result, there is constant movement in the short film. This in combination with the setting and organ music creates a very dream-like sensation. There is no dialogue further mystifying it. It is as if the point of view was from a perspective of a ghost that has seen this past and present. Another interesting aspect of the short film is the choice to film the modern-day set in broad daylight. In many parts of the graveyard sequence, it is quite dark. This in contrast to the lighter modern day scenes make it seem as if it is fading light to dark, comparing the past and present. In terms of Hitchcock’s filmmaking style, I can’t really find much except for the frequent use of the fade. In addition this film definitely has an eerie element to it but it is not necessarily the same eeriness that Hitchcock usually produces.

 

The image directly below reveals how extremely overlapped the scenes can get due to the one to two second scenes and the fade in between them. The two sets of images of two, shows the 1958 version of the setting and the 2006 version side by side.

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Overlapped Scene

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“Notorious” Abstract

The paper focuses largely on Hitchcock’s editing style, particularly on his skillful camera movements and integration of shots and cuts. This paper argues that these elements stimulate the suspense throughout the film, making it one of Hitchcock’s cinematic masterpieces. A small portion of the paper will deal with suspense films in a general aspect as well as dealing with the elements that make up the genre and how it triggers people to feel such anxieties. Several references to critics are integrated as well as their input on the relationship between the director and suspense. There are several important scenes and sequences that are worth discussing. However the paper is limited to examining only three essential sequences. These scenes include the key retrieval, poisoning of Alicia, and descent down the stairs (final scene). Not only are these sequences filled with a variety of unique editing techniques, it also creates substantial suspense within the context of the plot. The paper will go into a shot by shot analysis of each sequence, allowing it to get the most out of the film.

Vertigo: The Greatest Film of All Time???

Though determining the best film ever created is not something that can ever really be determined, I can certainly see why and how Vertigo is in the “50 Greatest Films of All Time” list. Not only is the movie entertaining, but also the cinematic elements of the film including Hitchcock’s creative use of shots, POV, and several other features make up “Pure Cinema.” Though this term is often considered to be ambiguous and difficult to define, it is certain that everything that Hitchcock is known for is featured in this film through his profound cinematic style. It is evident in not only his technique in cinematography, but also in the plot, choice of actors, themes, and his unique sense of directing as a whole. For example, no matter what film, Hitchcock always goes back to involving the audience as much as possible, as well as generating suspense and visual stimulating/disorienting sequences, and using the same motifs such as the integration of stairs. Despite the negative things critics had to say upon the release of this film, there is no doubt that Vertigo is in itself a masterpiece of Pure Cinema, rightfully earning its place as one of the most influential films of all time.

A Dysfunctional Family Dynamic in Shadow of a Doubt

Within Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, it is evident that there is a disconcerting relationship between Uncle Charlie and Charlie. The sexual tension between the two is an unlikely feature in any family dynamic. In discussing the interactions between those within the immediate family, James McLaughlin observes how Charlie has an “unmistakable, barely conscious, hostility directed at a father”; another unlikely feature of a typical family (148). This assertion is supported with Charlie being portrayed as critical daughter who often makes snide remarks towards her father, Mr. Newton. This can be described as passive aggressive behavior and is perhaps her way of expressing her resentment towards Mr. Newton. Charlie’s resentment is possibly spurred by her boring and idyllic life for which she blames her father. Consequently, there is an innate desire to experience something out of the norm and dangerous, which does happen with the arrival of Uncle Charlie. It is also interesting to see how just as critical Uncle Charlie can be towards Mr. Newton. This is evident from they way he embarrasses Mr. Newton at his work, disregards his comment about leaving a hat on the bed, sits at the head of the table, and continues to rip up Mr. Newton’s newspaper despite the children’s protests. Hitchcock’s intentions for having Mr. Newton characterized as a pushover is unclear, but it is certain that it is used to further intensify the discomfort and to reveal how seemingly typical families can be in reality, dysfunctional.

McLaughlin, James.” All in the Family: Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt.” In A Hitchcock Reader, 145-155. 2nd ed. Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

The Lodger and Blackmail: The Motif of Stairs

Within both The Lodger and Blackmail, the motif of staircases is prominently used. Though the integration of staircases in these films can be interpreted into several different ways, it is evident that they share the same effect of invoking suspense among the audience. Looking at an early scene in The Lodger, Hitchcock uses a montage sequence, cutting back and forth between the Lodger descending down the stairs and to Mrs. Bunting’s reaction. With the audience watching the specific scene (shown below), through a bird’s eye view, they can clearly see his smooth and slow movement down the spiraling staircase. The only part of the Lodger’s body that is revealed is his hand, which gradually and ambiguously slides down the staircase railing. The stairs deliberately slows time and in combination with the editing, effectively creates the uncomfortable feeling of intensifying suspense.

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Created through Makeagif.com

Similarly, Blackmail has a prominent scene involving the motif but with the protagonist and antagonist going up a spiraling staircase together. This time, the perspective is shown through a profile continuous shot, appearing as if the audience was seeing through the wall. Consequently, it creates the same affect with their ascension being an unusually long scene. It builds up the tension and a sense of uneasiness among the audience. Especially in this film, both the ascending and descending of the staircases implicate or foreshadow a pivotal event.

Black Mail Stairs (1)

Blackmail Stairs (2)

Blackmail Stairs (3)

Blackmail Stairs (4)

Screenshot from Youtube

It is clear that these early works act as a model for Hitchcock as the staircase will be seen and used as a motif for many of his later films. This along with several other characteristics will eventually define and contribute to the emergence of Hitchcockian cinematic style, which continues to be an influence for films today. With his style and the effect of it in his films, it is appropriate to attribute the director as “The Master of Suspense”.