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The Master Of Suspense And Alfred Hitchcock

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Alfred Hitchcock also known as “ The master of suspense” was an international household name who lived a very engrossing life, and produced and directed over fifty sensational movies. Alfred Hitchcock was born on August 13, 1899 in Leytonstone, London, England, and he died on April 29, 1980 due to kidney failure (Barson). He grew up with two older siblings, an overbearing mother, and an extremely strict father, who once sent him to the police station to teach him a life lesson. Alfred had a very discrete style of filmmaking that set him apart from everyone else in the industry. His style was so unique if it were viewed in another film, the viewers would automatically know that he directed it. He generated a sense of consistency by collaborating with the same people over and over again on his films. One composer that he always worked with was named Bernard Herman. He helped Alfred produce the sound to many great films including Psycho and Vertigo. Having consistency is a key factor for being an auteur, and this separated him from many other filmmakers in his time.Alfred Hitchcock revamped and left his mark on the film history drastically;thus, filmmakers nowadays look up to his work and find him to be extremely influential. Indeed, Alfred Hitchcock is an auteur because of his excellence in building and maintaining suspense and shocking the viewer, remaining true to a certain distinctive style, and great thematic consistency in his work.

Alfred earned his title as “ The master of suspense” through establishing and maintaining the suspense in all his films. He excelled in this skill by the way he positioned his camera, angles, shots and movement, and lighting and music. A great example of this would be his movie Psycho, because he constantly confuses the viewers and then shocks them. In the beginning of the film, the camera shows Marion Crane and Sam Loomis in the bedroom together;therefore, it makes people deduce it is a romantic film. Then, she steals the money from her boss, which makes people think it’s a film about crime. However, the genre of Psycho is not even about romance or crime, it’s a thriller. The way the scenes play out , the audience makes assumptions of what the movie is going to be about, but then Hitchcock changes it up and keeps them wondering. Another suspenseful scene is when she has been sleeping in her car on the side of the and a cop comes and wakes her up. The viewers feel anxious and wonder if she’ll get caught with the $40,000.00. She gets very anxious and shaky, and the viewers are afraid that the cop will go through her bag.

The police officer’s sunglasses also adds some edge because he is staring right at her eyes, and she feels and acts guilty and gets spooked. And lastly, when the cop follows her, it makes us think that he figured out that she’s is hiding something. There is a slight low angle close up of the police officer’s car in the rear-view mirror of her car where she nervously watches him tailgate her. The eyelevel medium shot of the car in the rear-view mirror, shows him following, which is a reflection of the police officer’s car. Hitchcock also builds pressure by cutting scenes between Marion and the cop. The trick hitchcock uses is moving the camera as if it were a humans eyes, looking around to find something. He used montages and juxtaposing of the of the angles throughout the film, in the scene of the woman in the bathtub killing where the rapid shots make it look like the woman is getting stabbed, but its all an illusion. All these things combined together are a perfect recipe for flabbergasting the audience and creating anticipation.

Furthermore, Alfred had a distinct style that stayed persistent in many aspects of his films over the years. However, one of the most eminent features that form his style was the way he did his visual approach. The audience saw things in Hitchcock movies that they were not likely to see elsewhere. Hitchcocks utilization of lighting and camera view made him stand out from everyone else. Some qualities including lowkey and edge lighting create an ambience. His peculiar angles and perspectives and theme really take the audience places they never been before. Hitchcock used lighting or darkness to manipulate the audience however he wanted. For example, by making the background darker, he makes the audience suspenseful as to what’s going on and what objects may be hidden there. In his movie called Strangers on a Train, he portrays on several occasions the use of powerful lighting to show the good characters from the evil ones.

In the beginning of the film with Bruno and Guy, the lighting is used to show the divergence between the two characters. In another scene, where Bruno came to tell Guy about his wife’s murder it shows how the darkness illustrates evil and the light portrays good. Bruno calls to Guy from the shadows, and Guy leaves his brightly lit house; however, when speaking to Bruno, Guy stands underneath the light coming from the street light while Bruno stays in the dark shadows. We can immediately tell that Guy is coming from his safe and bright world to Bruno’s dark and evil side. Guy realizes he wants nothing to do with Bruno, so he goes back into his brightly lit house. Meanwhile, bruno stays in the dark shadows. With the variation of good and evil between Guy and Bruno being such an important part of the film, it’s only right that the lighting of the film would show the audience that as well.


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