Analysis of the Technical and Thematic Aspects in Rope

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 film, Rope, is based on the 1924 case of Leob and Leopold, two university students and perceived lovers, who murdered a fourteen year old boy named Bobby Franks. They were students of Nietzchean philosophy which emphasizes the “will to power” as the chief motivating force of society. They set out to commit the “perfect murder”, and Hitchcock was intrigued with this concept.  During this time however, the idea of homosexuality was a sort of taboo, but Alfred Hitchcock knew that the psychological suggestion of the perfect murder, tied in with the suggestion of homosexuality would be enough to cause a stir among audiences. This created a voyeuristic view into the lives of these two murderers, which raised the stakes for the film as a whole. As well as dealing with the societal view at the time, Rope was an experimental film. It was thought to be a film shot uninterrupted with cuts or edits. There were found to be ten cuts of film, hidden as foreground objects filled the screen. Rope is based upon the explorative examinations of emotional content and psychological conflict which parallels with the technology of its time.

“Two Bedrooms in San Francisco” and “Vertigo”

David Reed is a contemporary American visual artist who is known for his canvas abstract paintings that feature multiple images of swirling brushstrokes. In the 1990’s, Reed created an art project called Two Bedrooms in San Francisco that involved producing Judy’s Bedroom in 1992 and Scottie’s Bedroom in 1994. In these art pieces, Reed inserted images of his painting into scenes from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Reed inserted his paintings into the footage of the bedrooms of the film’s leading character’s Scott and Judy. His artwork involves playing the modified footage continuously on a television monitors next to replicas of Judy and Scott’s beds and the paintings Reed inserted into the film.

Reed wants his art pieces to be hung in bedrooms because he believes that bedrooms are where people have their most private, intimate moments and are where paintings can be most appreciated and looked upon in reverie.  Reed chose the Vertigo bedrooms to insert his paintings because they are both imaginary places that exist in the film and in the audience’s minds, but are also bedrooms located in real, public spaces. In the film, Judy’s and Scott’s bedrooms are where the two had their most intimate moments and Reed wants his art to be a part of people lives and these life-altering moments.

Bottom image is the altered scene with Reed’s painting in the background

Reed, David. “David Reed, “Scottie’s Place/Judy’s Place”. Carnal Pleasures:Desire, Public Space, and Contemporary Art.” San Francisco: Clamor Editions (1998): n. pag. Web.

Monstrous Mothers: The Mother/Son Relationships in “North by Northwest” and “Psycho”

Abstract

North by Northwest and Psycho, though seemingly very different films, contain a number of common Hitchcockian themes, such as the presence of a mother-figure whose sanity and moral integrity is questionable at best. This paper discusses the similarities and differences of the mothers in these classic films, as well as the connections to Hitchcock’s childhood present in both films. The personalities and actions of both the sons and the mothers are analyzed in the context of their own films, then compared to those of their counterparts from the other picture. Additionally, the relationships between the mothers and sons are investigated, revealing the dysfunctionality of their relationships. In North by Northwest, the mother is excessively controlling and superficial, while in Psycho, the mother is merely a murderous side effect of the antagonist’s growing insanity. These maladjusted bonds, as well as the antagonistic nature of both mothers (though each expresses this trait in a vastly different way than the other), are compared with the similarly abnormal relationship which Hitchcock supposedly shared with his own mother during his childhood.

Rea Tajiri: Hitchcock Trilogy, 1987

Rea Tajiri’s Hitchcock Trilogy, is composed of three short films based on scenes from Vertigo, Psycho, and Torn Curtain. Tajiri uses the soundtracks by Bernard Herman in each film to cue memories from the famous Hitchcock films. In Hitchcock Trilogy, the sound is separated from the picture, as the soundtracks by Bernard Herman are synced with a different and more minimalistic narrative than the original Hitchcock films. The music of Vertigo, is used in combination with a textual description of three postcards. Music from Psycho is put together with a static shot of these two women and Hermans unused score for Torn Curtain, can be heard while there is a montage showing a consecutive closing of curtains, borrowed from other films.

  • Created from a pastiche of cinematic, newsreel, animation and television images that are set against Bernard Hermann’s evocative score, the “endless beginnings” of Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain reveals a continuous series of curtains opening.
  • Vertigo recounts three stories, allegedly based on postcard reproductions of Giuditta, a painting by Cristofano Allori; a photo of Lu Hsun on his way to deliver a speech at Kwanghua University, Shanghai, in 1927; and a photo of a jewel box made by Archibald Knox around 1900. No images appear; the viewer sees Tajiri’s narratives as written texts that scroll down the screen.
  • In Psycho, the photographic image of two women is evocatively transformed through subtle transmutations of gesture and movement.

tajiri_hitchcock_xl

(Two Women from Psycho)

Watch 30 seconds of Psycho

“On the surface, Rea Tajiri’s work reads like the standard deconstruction of appropriated popular media via text to which we have grown accustomed in the ’80s. But this is a work of remarkable evocation and resonance that counterpoints and complements the scores of Hitchcock films with ‘meta-narrative’ possibilities….In each, Tajiri ‘mirrors the mirror’—she departs from her own subjective perception rather than the original, and creates a new scenario.” —Michael Nash, Reconstructed Realms (Long Beach Museum of Art, 1989)

 

 

Abstract: The Man Who Knew Too Much

In the film The Man Who Knew Too much (1956), Hitchcock uses the element of sound throughout the movie to create and enhance the feeling of suspense in his audience. Though he was known for his visual style, he also respected and understood the importance of the auditory element in his films, especially this particular film. Sound in film can include many things like music, sound effects, vocal reactions, and silence. The Albert Hall Scene and the song “Que Sera Sera” are two exmaples in the movie of where music is used to create and amplify suspense. Both the content and the way these selections are portryed influence the level of suspense created. The main plot also revolves around the musical selection that is played in Albert Hall and also the sound effect of a gun shot. Also, lack of sound can be just as effective if not more effective in creating suspense than sound itself. Sound effects and vocal reactions of the actors can also influence the audience into feeling suspense depending on the way Hitchcock used them.

Sans Soleil by Chris Marker

Sans Soleil by Chris Marker is a 1983 French documentary on the inability of human memory and its effect on how history is perceived. His point is that history will ever be absolutely true because of the incapability of human memory to keep these memories “pure.” Footage from Marker’s travels to Iceland, Japan, Guinea-Bissau and San Francisco make up the entirety of the film. Marker uses the idea that time and hisstory is a sort of “vertigo” in that it is dizzying and uncertain. Hitchcock also presents the theme of the past and how it is dangerous to recreateit. Another work of Marker’s is La Jetee which also was greatly influenced by Hitchcock’s vertigo and the themes of time and memory.

 

Abstract

A plot focusing on two leads, one male and one female, and their relationship is a very classic cinema structure, and one which clearly appears in North by Northwest‘s focus on Cary Grant as Roger O. Thornhill and Eva Marie Saint as Eve Kendall.   Even outsides of the focus on the relationship between Kendall and Thornhill, North by Northwest‘s plot is clearly derivative of earlier Hitchcock films, such as The 39 Steps, The Wrong Man, and Strangers on a Train.  Despite these lack of originality in terms of Plot, North by Northwest is made complex and thematically rich by the two main characters.  Both Kendall and Thornhill being viewed as objects of lust generates a complexity in the role of gender stereotypes in the films, with Grant’s objectification breaking the male stereotype and Kendall’s supporting female stereotypes.  Kendall’s role as a female spy using seduction as an espionage technique also creates an interesting theme of women taking charge of their lives in terms of employment and sexuality, which relates the film to political events in the women’s liberation movement around the time of the film’s release.  Overall, this paper focuses on analyzing how the two main characters allow North by Northwest to transcend its conventional plot structure and become more thoughtful and thematically meaningful.

Frenzy

Alfred Hitchcock’s childhood was not a normal one. With an abusive father and an overbearing mother, he grew up to be an anxious, sadistic and misogynistic man. These qualities that he developed are shown clearly in many of his movies including Frenzy, which is often referred to as his last masterpiece. While creating this movie, Hitchcock wanted to make it as controversial as he possibly could. Released in 1972, Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy shocked audiences around the world. This was not an accident on the part of the filmmaker. He was extremely pleased when the film received an R-rating in America, his first to be given such an adult rating. His usual motifs are present in the film but with a more provocative twist. The Hitchcock blonde plays very sexualized part in the movie with her underwear showing during one scene. At another point, a man takes his pants off in front of the camera, showing that Hitchcock was playing with the censors, pushing them to their limits just to show that he could. My paper will explore the psychology and the motivation behind this world-famous filmmaker’s desire to push all the censors with Frenzy.

Girardet and Müller’s “Phoenix Tapes”

Müller was already an award-winning filmmaker by the time he began working on his collaboration piece with Girardet, “The Phoenix Tapes,” which would be released in 2000.  The pair worked very well together, and would release ten more collaborative films by 2011.  The “Phoenix Tapes” is a series of six films, each focusing on compiled snippets of different Hitchcock motifs.  The first tape, “Rutland,” focuses on Hitchcock settings such as spaces inside houses, urban street scenes, landmarks (ex: the Golden Gate Bridge in Vertigo), and empty, eerie landscapes.  The second tape, “#2- Burden of Proof,” focuses on more material Hitchcock images, such as keys, rings, monograms, weapons, and notes.  These objects are all plot advancers in Hitchcock’s films, and illustrate the violence and treachery that follows the peace and beauty of part one.  Hitchcock’s fascination with the human psyche and Freudian psychology is highlighted in part 3, “Derailed,” which shows clips of restless sleepers, trains, carousels, and scared children.  The classic Hitchcockian depiction of odd or overbearing mother-son relationships (and in the case of Marnie, a mother-daughter relationship) is shown through clips in “#4- Why Don’t You Love Me?”  In the fifth installment of “The Phoenix Tapes,” “Bedroom,” relationships between men and women in bedrooms are shown, which include both scenes of harmonious pleasure, and  scenes of disturbing force and violence.  The last tape, “#6- Necrologue” shows images of people in various states of death and sleep.  By showing similar shots and subjects from various Hitchcock films in close succession, Muller and Girardet were able to explore and visually explain how Hitchcock made his films so instantaneously recognizable.  Repeated images and and similar cinematography echoes throughout all the film clips.  The two filmmakers also created a work of art in their own right, taking the viewers of “The Phoenix Tapes” on an emotional roller coaster of enjoyment and fear alongside appreciation of the visual composition of the film clips.

 

Citations:

“Phoenix Tapes (Christoph Girardet and Matthias Muller, 1999).” Make Mine Criterion. 9 Aug. 2014. Web. 5 Dec. 2014.

Elsaesser, Thomas. “Phoenix Tapes.” Thomas Elsaesser. 1 Nov. 2013. Web. 4 Dec. 2014.

Frenzy

Considered the last Hitchcock masterpiece and the director’s penultimate film, Frenzy is often described as being one of Hitchcock’s most visceral, disturbing films. However, this paper argues that the violent nature of the film is not the only aspect of the film that makes it so notable, but rather that it contains a message concerning the relation of power, ignorance, and the rise of moral destitution. By analyzing the differing relationships between several of the characters based on Michel Foucault’s theories of sexuality and power, this paper will reveal several key instances of ignorance that ultimately led to the demise of a character and the continued increase in power of the primary antagonist. This paper also argues for Hitchcock’s complete control over the audience and his own characters through the use of techniques such as dramatic irony and instances of choosing when to show violence and when to avoid confrontation. This paper argues that the theories applied to this film are the most appropriate when discussing this sexually charged and virulent film in a manner fitting with that of scholarly literature.