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Jack Foster Case

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Jack Foster

Film Title: North By Northwest

Copyright: 1959

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Lead Actor/Actress: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint

Genre: Action

1. Please provide a summary of the film being sure to include plot, setting (when &where), major conflict & resolution (Be specific), and five (5) specific elements found in the film which link it together with other films in the same genre. Roger Thornhill is kidnapped, being mistaken for a George Kaplan. He's taken to a large house where he meets the main antagonist of the story, identifying himself as 'Mr. Townsend' despite that being merely a ploy. Thornhill has bourbon forced down his throat to get him drunk, and then they put him in a car headed for the water in order to kill him. He escapes, but he's caught by police for drunk driving and no one believes his story. Roger takes them to the house to show them, but all the evidence is removed and the people work for Van Damme ('Townsend's actual name), vouching he got drunk at the party and stole a car. He visits the real Townsend at the U.N., but during the meeting, one of Van Damme's cronies murders Townsend and it gets blamed on Thornhill. Roger then portrays Kaplan in order to figure out exactly what's going on. The setting is New York in 1959. The major conflict is that Roger Thornhill is mistaken for George Kaplan by Van Damme and this causes all the things that happen to him. He also falls for Eve. The resolution is that Van Damme is killed and Thornhill marries Eve. 5 elements that make this an action film are: chasing, intense music, rescue, crashes/sfx, extreme journey and quick shots.

2. Directors often use symbolism to convey the story they are presenting to the audience. Most of this can be observed through the use of color, lighting, costume, setting, composition, language, etc. Provide at least two (2) examples of how the director uses symbolism in this film. Explain your reasoning.

a. The clothing that Eve wears is used as symbolism in the film. When we are introduced to her, she's wearing white when we believe she's on the good side, but when we learn that she's an agent for Van Damme, we next see her wearing a dark black coat, signaling her bad intentions.

b. The train going into the tunnel is symbolic of Roger and Eve having a 'good' honeymoon night after their marriage. Hitchcock uses this in a perverted manner and because it's funny.

3. Describe three (3) different types of unique shots used by the director in this film, being sure to explain where they were used and why you believe the director chose to use each specific shot.

a. The opening shot in the reflection of the skyscraper showing cars going by is unique. It distorts the view of the cars with the glass, making them appear weird and obscure. I think this is used to initiate an establishing shot of New York, but also to put forth the idea of a misconception like Roger being mistaken for Kaplan.

b. The zoom in on the two men in the hotel in the beginning of the film. It's a dramatic twist, the first we really have in this film, and starts off as focusing on Thornhill, but quickly moves and zooms in to the two men (cohorts of Van Damme). I think this used for dramatic effect.

c. The Aerial extreme long shot from the top of the U.N. after Townsend is murdered towards the beginning of the film. This is used not only for dramatic effect, but also to help give a sense of location and heighten suspense.

4. Discuss the technical aspects of the film citing specific examples from the film concentrating on transitions, shot composition, editing techniques, special FX, lighting and soundtrack.

The transitions are mainly cuts. During dramatic chase scenes, the camera cuts quickly back and forth between Thornhill and the pursuers, heightening the suspense. One example of this is when drunken Thornhill is driving down towards the water. There were a lot of moving shots during this film. One example is when Roger walks in to the UN building, it shows him in a long shot and it moves with him, leaving Roger as the focus but also showing the surroundings. Conversational scenes typically use medium shots to allow the focus to be on dialogue and not let the audience get distracted by the background. The editing pace was quick, as you'd expect from an action film, especially during

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