Hitchcock’s use of Framing in the Lodger and Blackmail

In both films, Hitchcock utilizes a visual motif which appears to “frame” a character in a scene. These “frames” put more emphasis on them. In his films, these frames can include doorways, mirrors, and arches, where the character is placed inside.

The Lodger

In The Lodger, one of the first framed shots is the Lodger entering the house with Mrs. Bunting at the bottom of the staircase. The scene frames the Lodger in the doorway as he is about to enter. Novello is also slightly blurred, which insists that Novello is mysterious. This is echoed by the Lodger’s actions throughout the rest of the film, which allows the audience to believe that the Lodger is committing the murders. Another scene that uses this effect frames the Lodger in the window. This perspective seems to have been shot from outside of his room. When the Lodger is being chased towards the end of the film, his handcuffs get caught on the top of the fence, leaving him hanging from his wrists. This is shot from the viewpoint of the mob that is chasing him. The view frames Novello in between the bars of the fence. The framing emphasizes his guilt and adds suspense to the scene.















One of the framed shots includes the staircase scene that appears to trap Alice and the artist. Trapping the two characters within the staircases stresses the fact that the two are alone, which foreshadows the attempted rape that takes place after Alice and the artist arrive at the art studio. This scene in particular, was shot continuously, following the characters up the stairs in one shot. This further emphasizes the long walk up the staircase and stresses their moving away from the rest of the building and other people. The same framing technique takes place in the studio during the costume scene. Although Alice and the artist are in the same shot, they are separated from each other, which contrasts from the previous staircase scene. Even though the two are separated by the screen, the audience is put in suspense by the artist’s piano playing and singing. The unusualness of the artist’s playing presents the possibility of the barrier being crossed as Alice changes into the dress. The same technique is used during the chase scene in the British Museum. In this scene, the chase is framed by the hallways of the museum with artifacts on either side. When Tracy climbs up the rope in the museum, he is framed by a large Egyptian piece and an arch, which seem to emphasize his small size.

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