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Alfred Hitchcock: The Birds Analysis

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Throughout the two films Annie Hall and The Birds, each sequence of events has been thoroughly vetted by the director to bestow the viewer with a more concrete understanding of the overall themes and motivation behind the particular underlying story. With this in mind, the utilization of specific editing techniques presented a chance to illustrate those sequences in the most successful ways possible. I will examine the usage of these techniques and how the director’s capacity to cultivate each scene together assists in promoting the films’ stories as a whole.

While watching the escapades of the neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer throughout the film Annie Hall, specific editing techniques assisted in exemplifying the emotions and interesting relationship that takes place amidst the characters. I felt the director produced a compelling twist to each individual shot. For instance, in the shots where Alvy and Annie are visiting the therapists, as well as the shot of them on the balcony having a conversation and subtitles appear, the editing was exemplary. I will expand on both of these scenes as well as one more focusing on how each of these techniques added complexity and ingenuity.

First, the therapist scene. After examining how this scene was initially going to be shot, the fact that the cinematographer chose to edit the scene in a way that brought each of them together on the same shot created an alluring dualistic conversation that unknowingly fed off the responses of both parties. I feel that without the method in which this shot was taken and edited it wouldn’t have contributed as much sensitivity for the emotions of both Annie and Alvy. It was able to make a lifelike conversation that was “natural” and honest.

In an additional comedic manner, and one more known to the traditional style of Woody Allen, the scene in which Alvy and Annie are on a balcony speaking to each other about photography further showcases the cinematographer’s prowess. The scene displayed the initial awkwardness behind speaking to someone that you have affections for, but don’t know if they reciprocate. The subject matter was one that assisted in creating a captivating dialogue contrasted by the addition of subtitles. This useful technique developed both characters, as it shows how genuinely paranoid or frightened they both were of making mistakes, relationship wise. I do not recall seeing such subtitles in a film before but it was genuinely innovative what Allen was able to create with it within the movie Annie Hall.

Lastly, one more essential scene that I wanted to focus on was one that has been hailed for its incredible creativity. This scene showcases when Alvy and Annie are in bed with each other but things just aren’t going too well. A dual shot presents an edited image of Annie in a ghost-like manner as she manifests outside of her body which is engaged with Alvy. This particular scene was able to creatively develop both characters and plot in an exotic way. Another critical detail to this shot was Annie’s genuine feelings, which were disclosed through the ghost. I thought this execution was symbolic of her soul. At this moment, it’s obvious given the context that Alvy and Annie are growing further apart from each other, and through the double-exposed shot, Woody Allen makes this experience acutely visual for the viewer.

I thought Annie Hall to be a thoroughly captivating film that supplied the viewer with a feasible and sensible view of what occurs when two similar yet awkward people join together with love. Woody Allen’s capability to edit and direct in a way to guide the story was unlike anything I had ever seen before, making it unique and compelling. Continuing this discussion on a different style of film, on the rich editing that helps to elaborate on the overarching theme and develop characters called The Birds.

Directed by the famous Alfred Hitchcock, The Birds, just like Annie Hall, utilizes countless impressive editing techniques. Some of these techniques include ‘continuity’ and ‘discontinuity’ editing. At first glance, I established this film to be cryptic and eerie; the story made me almost laugh because of its improbable characteristics similar to that of a movie with a giant spider taking over a city. Hitchcock’s predominant focal point for this film was to bring into focus the potential danger that threatens given the period in which the film was made. Looking at the central theme of complacency, he creates a film that captures the viewers’ attention with suspenseful montages and edits that portray a burgeoning problem within the city of Bodega Beach, California.

Upon closer inspection of the scene when Melanie leaves the Brenner’s house until she arrives back at the dock in Bodega Bay, the viewer can fully grasp the Hitchcock is able to continue his suspense but with some breaths of lighter romanticism between Melanie and Mitch as she goes out in the boat on her own. During the initial segment of the scene, Melanie’s nervousness was communicated as the camera continues to alternate back and forth between her and the house. An eye-line shot was utilized to focus the viewer’s’ attention on Melanie gazing at the barn to make sure she wasn’t caught.

In the next part of this scene, we see multiple face-shots that use the 30-degree rule to aid the viewer in understanding that the character is content and additionally to maintain spatial awareness and unity. As each individual shot was edited continuously, it places the interaction of both characters together. We see that Mitch finally detects the boat when a long shot shows him running out in front of the house and then back in. This part of the scene garners suspense until Mitch finally views her as he looks through his binoculars. Here we see again the utilization of the 30-degree rule to maintain the principles of continuity editing by permitting the audience to see in on the play-by-play, empowering Hitchcock to relate Mitch and Melanie’s point of view at a similar time and place.

As the final portion of the sequence commences, we see a series of long shots and close-ups, with Mitch desperately getting into his car and following Melanie on her excursion back to the dock. These shots assemble the bigger picture and help to bring the story together. From each close-up and long shot, the viewer is able to adjust themselves more thoroughly. We see Melanie and her dazed in love attitude. The camera persists with shots that pan around to the dock of Bodega Beach. When Mitch finally gets to the pier, the shot switches to Melanie’s smiling face. Then she is abruptly attacked by a seagull on the head. The seemingly tranquil shot became distraught and ruined with multiple shots, including one that shows blood on her finger telling the viewer that it was indeed something to be afraid of. This scene would be one that brings a significant change to the attitude of the film and enforces the theme of challenging a sense of security.

Editing is a pivotal part of the process of making a film, and in both Annie Hall and The Birds, the techniques of continuity editing and discontinuity were ubiquitous. I was able to achieve a more thorough understanding of how crucial editing actually is through studying these films. These films were entertaining, and both directors did an exemplary job of conveying the themes and stories of the characters. I enjoyed watching how different techniques of editing were used to produce two classic, unforgettable films.

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