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Alfred Hitchcock (rough)

Essay by review  •  December 3, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,370 Words (6 Pages)  •  932 Views

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Alfred Hitchcock is, without a doubt, one of the most influential filmmakers in ht the history of cinema. A bold statement, but true nonetheless. In the course of this essay, I will first discuss the main themes and symbolic imagery found in Hitchcock's films. Secondly, I will show how these themes and images function in his films and why they matter to him. I will also discuss his cinematic techniques and how they express his views. Finally, I will discuss the film ____ and how it exemplifies the themes and devices discussed.

The themes in Hitchcock's work reoccur throughout his various films. The best way to start analyzing any Hitchcock film is to look at the beginning shot and end shot. The first will set up the main theme (the opening of the blinds in Rear Window "the world is a stage") and the final shot showcases the connection between the different characters (In The Lady Vanishes, Gilbert, Iris and Miss Froy are all shown in a tranagle formation, indicating their tri-fold connection). Each one of Hitchcock's films operate in this f ashion, showing his ability at crafting layers of depth into his work. Hitchcock was obsessed with innocence and guilt.

Hitchcock preferred to build his themes with suspense rather than surprise. Hitchcock preferred to build the mounting tension in a film, rather than assault the viewer with surprise imagery. "Hitchcock's films draw heavily on both fear and fantasy, and are known for their droll humour. They often portray innocent people caught up in circumstances beyond their control or understanding." (Wiki) Fascinated by voyeurism in both his characters (Rear Window, Rope) and the audience as a voyeur, Hitchcock often played with the idea of "the world is a stage and we are all players in it". In several films like Dial "M" For Murder, Hitchcock would often adapt plays into film scripts, challenging himself by bringing difficult scenarios and confined spaces to the screen. Rope was filmed in only 9 takes, as well as being Hitchcock's first colour film, creating difficulties with the cumbersome camera and and long shots needed. Hithcock thrived on making difficult situations work and they often did.

"Hitchcock was fascinated with Freudian psychology and unsettling forces and power of the id." His films often resonate with an interest in tapping into the subconscious, seeing what we has human beings are capable of. Psycho is an excellent example of this, with its skewed representation of Norman his relationship with his mother. Having also had an oppressive relationship with his own mother may explain why Hitchcock has this seeming misogynist view of the female, some critics say. However, I feel that Hitchcock values women and empowers them in many of his films. Grace Kelly's character in "Rear Window" is a ritzy uptown girl that proves herself to Jimmy Stewart by adventurously engaging in his suspicions with his apartment neighbor. However, Hitchock is guilty of using similar motifs throughout his work.

Intentional symbols in in Hitchcock's work includes staircases, cliffs, ledges and windows. Many of these objects "represent passage ways into the unconscious". (ned) Spirals were often used to represent a descent into hell or madness, visualized through water swirling into drains or designs placed in the frame. Stairs are a huge thematic piece for Hitchcock: when characters ascend a set of stairs they are reaching a pinnacle in their relationship with another character or within themselves (Bob Lawrence at the end of "The Man Who Knew Too Much"). Stairs offer a straightforward visual example of the ascension and descention of man. Mirrors are used to represent man's self-reflection and self-examination. Shadows are used, especially in his earlier black and white films, to represent the evil, sinful nature of man, waiting to emerge if given the chance. Windows offer a clear view of voyerism, clearly seen in Rear Window. Jimmy Stewart's character can only gaze out his window to watch his neighbors and in Rebecca, the giant covered windows in Rebecca's room represent the secrets that she kept are well veiled. For Hitchcock, it always came down to the visuals. "Throughout his career, Hitchcock continued to believe in cinema as a visual medium. For him, dialogue and sound should remain secondary to the image in telling the story." (screenonline.org)

Perhaps one of Hitchcock's greatest contributions to the world of firlm was his innovative desire to push the boundries of film aesthecially. Having started making films in the Silent Era, he became a master in this area as black and white sound pictures began to emerge. He established himself firmly in the black-and-whites and smooth transitioned to colour when it became available. Throughout his career, his innovative shots and control of the frame have stood the test of time. A filmmaker can now be described as

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