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North by Northwest

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North by Northwest

North by Northwest is Alfred Hitchcock's most creative, glamorous, suspense and comedy movie. The director alters the history of crime and suspense movies in a very precise and entertaining way. North by Northwest, his fabulous suspense movie, creates the tension of fear and anticipation in the viewers' eyes. The mysterious and suspicious senses of the movie are created by the director's creative use of cinematography and camera angles. This paper will analyze how the use of different camera angles and their relationship impact the understanding of specific scenes. I will focus on two scenes in the paper to point out the implication of the use of cinematography in the crop duster scene and the auction scene in North by Northwest.

The movie opens by showing a daily crowded nature of the city. At the end of his working day, Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) attends a business meeting when he is kidnapped by two men in a hotel and is taken to a place where Townsend Mansion is located. Thornhill is mistaken to George Kaplan and brought to Leonard Townsend. As the movie proceeds, Thornhill attempts to find the secret of Townsend's interest in Kaplan. Then, he goes out of the city to look for Kaplan in order to extricate the murder he accused of committing. A young, beautiful, blond girl, Eve, helps him to escape from police. The two fall in love without Thornhill's knowledge that Eve is Townsend's agent and seduces him to get into Townsend's trap. Eve's mysterious character creates a sense of suspense in viewer's eye. When Thornhill reveals the truth of Eve as being the government's agent who helps the government and finds the truth of Townsend and his spy organization oversea, he decides to help Eve get out of the intricacy she got in because of Thornhill. Finally, he saves her with the help of the Professor and the two supposedly get married.

The famous crop duster scene in North by Northwest is rich of magnificent use of camera work. The scene's location, which is a field that is in the middle of nowhere, the absence of music and the natural sound creates a suspicious sense in the eyes and ears of the audience. The scene alters the historical and normal technique that a murder scene is set up; like a dark and cold place. The use of cinematography and camera angles creates the sense that Thornhill is a target for a murder in an open and light field. The scene begins with a high angle long shot of a bus arriving which stresses the environment and location of the scene and shows the image in correspondence to the real distance between the bus and Thornhill. The audience can feel that Thornhill is anxious to figure out when Kaplan comes. After that, a car arrives and a man gets out. Thornhill and the man stand opposite to each other. The two wait for a while and look at each other. The shot is a full shot creating a feeling that sooner or later, the man takes out the gun and kills Thornhill; but this never happens. When, finally, Thornhill talks to the man, the shot changes to a medium shot to show the significance of their dialogue and also showing their facial expression which adds to the suspense of the scene.

Furthermore, after the man leaves, a plane is shown from the point of view of Thornhill. He looks at the plane apprehensively when the plane moves toward the audience to hit Thornhill. Most of the plane attacks that are shown in this scene are from the point of view of Thornhill in order to make the audience feel exactly how Thornhill feels in that moment. Besides, when the plane gets closer to Thornhill and is about to hit him, the shot becomes a low angle shot to emphasize the fear Thornhill feels. Also, when the plane turns and passes over his head a close up shot shows Thornhill's relief from the failure of the plane to hit him. After the second attack of the plane, a cornfield is shown from the point of view of Thornhill to show that Thornhill wants to go there in order to run off the attack. Showing the field from the point of view of Thornhill is a subjective viewpoint of Thornhill; it is also an objective view of the audience since the audience feels Thornhill's reaction and his fear of the attack, however.

In addition, a tracking shot is used when Thornhill runs across the cornfield to illustrate the feeling of being chased. Later, a close-up of Thornhill's face is shown when Thornhill looks at a truck arriving from a long distance to show his feeling of eagerness to run away from the attack of the plane. Moreover, Thornhill's facial expression also stresses the fear and relief he feels. Both the low angles, tracking shots and the close-ups accentuate to the meaning of the scene which is creating an atmosphere in which audiences feel suspicious that now or later the plane will hit him. Similar to the beginning of the scene, the ending of the scene is a long shot when Thornhill steals the man's truck to show that the scene will end and dissolves to another scene and another environment. In short, all the camera movements



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