Read the attached Notes on Film and the Characteristics of Alfred Hitchcock’s Style.
2) View the film North by Northwest, directed by Alfred Hitchcock (1959). It is available free on Youtube, but not as a continuous whole, you have to watch it scene by scene. It is also available on Amazon Prime (you can get a free ten-day trial subscription), HBO Max, Google Play, VUDU, I-Tunes Store, and a few other streaming services.
3) Write an analysis of the film in which you identify scenes from the film that illustrate at least four of the filmmaking techniques described in the Notes on Film, and also identify scenes from the film that illustrate all of the characteristics of Hitchcock’s style. This means that you will provide at least 13 examples from the film. The identification of the examples must be clear and accurate, not vague.
– an analysis of the film in which you identify scenes from the film that illustrate at least four of the filmmaking techniques described in the Notes on Film, and also identify scenes from the film that illustrate all of the characteristics of Hitchcock’s style.
Film and the Characteristics of Alfred Hitchcock’s Style
Most films today have been created from ideas that were first designed by film directors in the past. One example of a highly influential film director is Alfred Hitchcock. So far, many films have tried to copy the same style and technique that he employed at his time. To better understand his style and technique, the film “North by Northwest” will be analysed. This paper supports the argument that Alfred Hitchcock’s style and technique were quite unique and influential.
Film Making Techniques
Objectivity and Subjectivity have been used in this film. For example, in the framed for murder scene, an objective camera viewpoint is used to show everything that is taking place in the UN office that Roger Thornhill enters (Hitchcock). The viewer is able to see things from the universal spectator perspective. That is why certain occurrences not seen or known by Roger Thornhill can be identified. For instance, there is a man standing suspiciously at the entrance putting on his black gloves. Later on, this suspicious individual throws a knife that stabs Lester Townsend at the back. Although the audience is aware of the man and his face, Roger Thornhill and the other characters present in the room did not see or notice his presence. He is accused of murder since he is seen pulling out the knife.
A subjective camera viewpoint is noted in the Mount Rushmore scene. While Roger Thornhill and Eve are rushing towards the mountain, the camera moves swiftly to show what they are viewing as they look at the rocky landscape. Suddenly, they hear movement and look to their right where the camera, once again, uses a subjective viewpoint to show what they saw (Hitchcock). Therefore, the first person point of view is also used in certain scenes within the film.
The love on a train scene represents a two-shot technique where Roger Thornhill and Eve Kendall are shown flirting at their table. It is a clear representation of a two-people close-up since the camera is as close as it can get to the characters. Only these two individuals are included in the frame (Hitchcock). The focus is on the upper bodies since they are only shown from waist up.
In the crop duster scene, plasticity is noted since the scene features various shots that have been edited together to create the resulting flow of events (Hitchcock). The camera constantly switches from showing the crop duster and Roger Thornhill individually. Some shots also showcase both the crop duster and Roger Thornhill with the plane chasing him. If the shots could not be cut effectively, the resulting smooth flow of events would not have been possible.
Characteristics of Alfred Hitchcock’s style
In the film, a cameo is featured within the first few minutes of the film. Hitchcock is featured among the many New Yorkers who are in a rush to get home from work (Hitchcock). Unfortunately, he is seen missing his bus and is never shown during the rest of the film. This is an example of how Hitchcock tends to feature himself within the films that he directs.
In the love on a train scene, Hitchcock uses a plot twist. At first Roger Thornhill states that he seems to be lucky to have sat next to Eve Kendall as they flirt (Hitchcock). At this point, he still has no idea who she is and thinks she is just a common stranger. However, as they keep talking, it is disclosed that it is not the case. Eve Kendall actually paid to have Roger Thornhill sent to that seat in case he boards the train. In addition, she knows everything about him including his real name and the fact that he is wanted in America for murder. Roger Thornhill is shocked by this occurrence as shown through his facial expression and response. Therefore, even though one might think that she was just a common stranger, it is quickly revealed that she has ulterior motives for wanting to sit opposite Roger Thornhill.
In the film, Eve Kendall is featured as the leading lady. She represents the kind of women that Hitchcock likes to feature for these leading roles as she is a platinum blonde woman. That is because the director tends to assume that such women look better when confronted by dangerous situations.
An ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances is shown through Roger Thornhill’s situation. Initially, he was an ordinary man, living his usual life until the murder of Lester Townsend that he was framed for (Hitchcock). This occurrence forced him to flee as he tried to resolve the mystery and clear his name.
An extreme attention to detail is also showcased in this film. For instance, during the stabbing of Lester Townsend, a scene is shown featuring the flying knife that ends up murdering this character (Hitchcock). This extreme attention to the detail makes all the difference as opposed to having the man acting like he is pain before falling and showing the knife on his back.
The sound tracks used for this film have been written specifically for the various scenes included. When the actors are flirting, a flirty soundtrack is used. On the contrary, after the occurrence of the murder, a different soundtrack is used to help set the mood of surprise and disbelief.
Subjective and objective viewpoints have both been used in this film. There are certain scenes where activities are happening in the background that Roger Thornhill has no idea about. However, the viewers are able to clearly see what is happening. On the other hand, there are scenes where the viewers are able to assess the environment from Roger Thornhill’s viewpoint.
One characteristic of Hitchcock that has been identified features the use of comedy in dangerous and tense situations. For example, in the crop duster scene, Roger Thornhill who is stranded in the middle of nowhere has to keep throwing himself on the ground as he tries to escape an attack by the crop duster (Hitchcock). At first, he does not seem to understand that he is in danger until the plane comes so close to the ground that he has to quickly lie down. This is a comic action since the actor has to constantly repeat the same action, making it very funny to the audience. The end of the scene is also comical since the actor attempts to stop a track that almost run him over. Eventually, the crop duster also losses control and crashes into the same vehicle. It gives great detail to their facial expressions and actions.
Another example of comedy use is in the Mount Rushmore scene where Roger Thornhill proposes to Eve right before she lost grip on the wall and rips part of the back of his trouser as she goes down. Since they were hiding, this represents an example of a comical scene that follows a tense scene.
The chase scenes used in this film are quite interesting. For instance, being chased by a plane is quite unusual especially since shots were being fired at Roger Thornhill who was on foot (Hitchcock). It is incredible that he even survived the ordeal. Longshots are featuring nature have been used abundantly in the course of the film. It creates the effect that Roger Thornhill was caught up in something bigger even though he was just an ordinary man at the beginning.
The examples provided above feature film making techniques, as well as the characteristics of Alfred Hitchcock during film making. It shows how effective these characteristics are and how they determine the resulting impact of the film. That is why he is considered among the most influential film directors in history.
Hitchcock, Alfred. “North by Northwest.” Youtube. 1959.