cmichaelhorn

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  1. 1. How does the opening of Frenzy differ from the opening of The Lodger? Feel free to rewatch the clip from The Lodger (Daily Dose #2) for comparison. The opening of Frenzy showcases technical advances made since The Lodger. The opening shot of London that starts from a great distance overhead, all the way into the politician speaking on the shores of The Thames would not have been possible even a year before. The Lodger starts with a murder. Frenzy is a lot less personal, with the body seen only from a distance, already dead, and face down -- impersonal. 2. What are some of the common Hitchcock touches that you see in this opening scene? Be specific. The long opening shot is a Hitchcock touch. It brings us from on high right down to ground level. London will be a character in the film, but this is a street level story. There is a crowd gathered for the politician. They are spectators both of the politician and the spectacle of the body in the river. 3. Using Frenzy as an example, what thoughts do you have about the various purposes Hitchcock had in mind when he created his opening scenes? In the Daily Doses, we have focused on opening scenes, so there should be patterns or strategies you have noticed over the course of opening scenes spanning Hitchcock's 50 year career. Again, I think he meant to establish London as a character, but also to telegraph that this will be a down in the mud, low level view of London. At this point the people of London are certainly less shocked by the body, which has narratively been reduced to the level of pollution in the Thames. The victim is a woman and the woman is nude, so there are elements that suggest there is a sexual dynamic to the murder.
  2. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects. Hitch wants us to know that the purse is something important. He keeps it in the center of the screen as Marnie walks away from the camera. It colored canary yellow and is the only biright color on the screen, We know that she has at least a double life. She has fake SS numbers in a secret compartment. She has a stash of cash that she treats casually. She packs a second suitcase then locks it in a box at the station, then throws away the key. This is not what one would expect and she wants to make sure there is no link between her and that suitcase. Almost certainly it contains all the pieces of the identity she is throwing away. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? Hermann's score does something neat in the beginning of the scene, which is to say it does nothing. This is filler music that says 'everything si fine, the situation is normal'. What is neat is that it plays while Marnie is engaged in activities that may be normal to her, but are anything but normal to the audience. The music then swells majestically as we see the real Tipi Hedron face emerge in slow motion. This is saying: the most important part of the scene is how pretty Tipi Hedron is... Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? Yes! Hitchcock waits for Marnie to pass then comes out of a side door, pauses, then turns and looks at the audience as if to say: 'See? Here I am! You can stop looking for my cameo and just watch the movie.'
  3. In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene? Hitchcock is careful to couch the story in a setting of normalcy to counterpoint the apocalyptic elements to follow. Melanie is suffering delays in shipping frustration, she is mistaken for the shop girl, then taken for a ride by Mitch. There are several layers moving on to of each other here. Throughout is the chatter of the birds. We learn that Mitch is not as ignorant on the topic of birds as one might have supposed, we learn that he is quick on the uptake with Melanie, even after his initial error, and that he is interested in her. We also learn that he has a sister. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere? Hitchcock eschews a conventional score in favor of a soundscape composed entirely of bird sounds and some integrated music. The birds are almost used musicaly and the bird sounds have the same effect of emphasising moods, or prodding audience expectation. The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene. Hitchock exits the bird shop with his dogs, as Melanie goes in. Apart from the observation of 'doubles' that was referenced int he video, I don't know what other meaning is present.
  4. Psycho opens with title design by Saul Bass and music by Bernard Herrmann. This is their third collaboration for Hitchcock, including Vertigoand North by Northwest. How does the graphic design and the score introduce the main themes of this film? The music and the graphics combine to foreshadow plot elements. Hermann is the Hitchcock of music in the sense that he is msterful at evoking specific feelings / reactions with his score. Here, the shrieking violin motif that underpins the shower scene is mirrored visually with the stabbing lines that Bass deploys across the screen. In Hermann's score, this motif is joined periodically with what I have come to call his Marion's Flight music, which accompanies her escape from her situation, her town, and eventually her life. As the titles end, we have three shots of Phoenix, Arizona, and a very specific day, date, and time: “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH” and “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M.” What is Hitchcock seeking to establish with such specificity? Also, why do you think Hitchcock elects to enter the hotel room through the semi-closed blinds from the outside? Does this shot remind of any other Daily Doses we have watched? The specificity of the date/time reminds one of the opening of any episode of Dragnet or any police procedural aired at the time or since. It puts us in mind of the contect of illicit behavior, or crime. We are about to witness what will become a chain of evidence. Entering the room from the closed blinds also telegraphs the elicit nature of what is going on therein. The blinds are drawn against us seeing the details of their sexual relationship. The setting being in a hotel undermines the stability of that relationship and support's Marion's opening overtures for change. In the remainder of this sequence, we are introduced to Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and Sam Loomis (John Gavin). The scene pushed the boundaries of censorship, especially considering our last Daily Dose for North by Northwest was edited for a line of risqué dialogue. Since this is the opening scene of Psycho, how does the hotel room scene function as a way to establish Marion Crane as a main character? Defend your answer. Marion is the one so dissatisfied with the status quo that she pushes for change. She makes the overtures for change, he resists, and she overwhelms his objections. She is active, he is passive.
  5. 1. Even at the level of the dialogue, this film is playing with the idea that two Hollywood stars are flirting with each other (e.g. the line, "I look vaguely familiar.") How does our pre-existing knowledge of these stars function to create meaning in this scene. I don't know how much this is really there. Obviously he is referring alternately to the line 'you look familiar' as well as the subtext that his picture has been spread around and he is in the mode of concealing his identity. Certainly we know Cary Grant and are expecting his witty banter, so there is that. 2. There is minimal action in this scene, so any deviation from the overall pattern of focusing on the faces of the two leads will have increased significance. In that sense, discuss how Hitchcock uses the R.O.T. matchbook as an important piece of acting business (or as a prop) in this scene. It is a setup for the 'throw away' line: 'It stands for nothing', which may be meant to underline that Thornquist is an everyman (even though he has the face of Cary Grant). 3. How is Hitchcock using sound design in this scene? Consider music and other background sounds in your answer. The backgound music is there, but almost unnoticeable. The train sounds are pronounced. The table sounds are also very loud. I think this is meant to add to the sense of realism in the scene.
  6. Describe what you think this film will be about simply from the sounds and images in these opening credits. Even if you have seen the film, try to focus on these sounds and images themselves and “the story” (or if not "the story," the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience. There is a woman, she is watching something. She looks to the side, meaning she isn't looking at us (as the eye in the opening shot of Blade Runner is 'the film watching you' according to Ridley Scott), and the spiral in the eye coupled with the revolving score, suggest visual distortion, or distorted perception. The music also has underpinnings of dread or danger cued by the horns droning under the revolving sound. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer. I think it is interesting that in the opening shot the lips are the focus, before moving up to the eye. Is it to make sure we know the gender associated with the eye? Unclear -- I would argue unnecessary. The most powerful image is the closeup on the eye during the shift from black and white to red. It looks like it is the same eye, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that they had used red makeup around they eye to make it read different in B&W, similar to how they did the red filter technique for that Jekyll to Hyde transformation in one of those film adaptations. That change, plus the eye widening in fear, make it unsettling. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? The music revolves in concert with the spirals of the image as described above.
  7. How would you describe the opening camera shot of this film? What is Hitchcock seeking to establish in this single shot that opens the film? Whose vantage point is being expressed in this shot, given that Jeff has his back to the window? The opening camera shot is an establishing shot that starts by setting the stage and continues on to filling in details about Jeff. We can pick the vantage point - I chose the audience. Once Jeff wakes up we are slaved to his vantage point. Jeff already knows where he lives. He can afford to sleep through the establishing shot. What do we learn about Jeff in this scene without any pertinent lines of dialogue (other than what is written on Jeff’s leg cast)? How does Hitchcock gives us Jeff’s backstory simply through visual design? He is a photographer who was injured taking an action shot on the raceway. He has a girl he took a picture of that is first shown to us in negative. I assume this is meant to refer to them being opposites, but it is a bit clunky. He starts by showing us the setting, then showing us Jeff, then showing the broken leg, then showing why the leg was broken, then showing who wrote on the cast and what the nature of their relationship is. Does this opening scene make you feel like a voyeur or, at a minimum, remind you of being a an immobile spectator? What feelings does Hitchcock elicit from you as his camera peers into these other people’s apartments? Nah. If I was seeing this for the first time, I might feel as if someone were filming a play. It seems stagy like that. Even when you see him in the chair you don't know that this is the only setting in the film, or that it all revolves around him looking out. It seems obvious that the neighbors will be characters. There is an air of archetype to them all that is both forced and non offensive at the same time. Bonus question: if you have seen the entire film before, do you agree with Hitchcock that this film is his most cinematic? I am not sure what he means by 'most cinematic'. Perhaps it is the distance from the action that Jeff maintains, and the forced POV channeled through him that does this.
  8. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie? The spiraling camera work was done before, as noted in the Lecture video. There is an interesting, if brief, focus on the glass which predicts the famous stairway sequence in Suspicion. The liquid is cloudy and mysteriously lit. In Suspicion, there is a -- well, suspicion that the glass contains poision. In Notorious she is actually poisoned. Long tracking shots, such as when Grant leaves the bedroom are a Hitchcock touch. How does Hitchcock choose to light, frame, and photograph his two stars in this scene?What are some of the contrasts that Hitchcock trying to set up between these two characters through art direction, costume, and cinematography? The very end of the clip frames Grant and Bergman in the doorway, with the bedroom in the background. The light on the bedroom wall visually picks up the striped motif of her dress and connects it to Grant. Grant's suit is almost severe in its sharp black and white. The lapels of his shirt are almost daggers pointing at her. This mirrors the sharpness and directness with which he deals with her in the dialogue. The stripes on Bergman's dress are evenly spaced but, in a nice touch, are not ordered - they are chaotic in how they cross her body. Her hair is disheveled, but not too much so. This suggests her state of mind as one that is volatile and a bit muddy. Based on this scene (or the entire film if you have seen it already), reflect on the casting of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Does this scene conform to or challenge their well-known star personas? I can't speak to Bergman, but with Cary Grant, we have an actor who has a very well known brand as a versatile actor with no trouble whatever indulging in lighter fare, or even comic scenes. Within the context of the scene above, we would never consider Grant to be a severe character, but the way the dialogue runs and the costuming in this scene run counter to our expectations from him. Given Hitchcock's statement that 'casting is characterization', there seems to be a concious effort to subvert our expectations and leave us unsettled.
  9. As mentioned in the curator's note, this scene operates as a prelude to the main story. What do learn about the character of Uncle Charlie in this prelude? Be specific. We learn that Charlie, at least for the moment, is transient. He is living in a boarding house and hasn't been in this one for long. He has enough money to notice, and a habit of having that money, to the point that the landlady notices, and that he has a disregard for its security. We know that Charlie is in the middle of his career, what ever that career may be. He is weary. We know that he is being followed -- there is no innocent version of that... We know that he thinks, and is prepared to do the unconventional. He boils with controlled anger, and challenges those trailing him as soon as he finds out they are there. In what ways does this opening remind you of watching a film noir? If it doesn't remind you of a film noir, what makes the opening here different from the opening of a noir film like Siodmak's The Killers? (Note: If you haven't seen The Killers, it is fine to answer this question in general terms about your own personal expectations) The boarding house setting; the violence -- even in the scene where he hurls the glass. The play of light and dark - the shadow falling over charlie as she draws the blind; he standing in the dark looking at those standing in the light. The normalcy of the scene outside under which writhes a thread of darkness, suspicion and violence. As we move into Hitchcock's Hollywood years, his scores will take on more importance than they did during the British years. Music will play a big role in Shadow of a Doubt. The film's score is by Dimitri Tiomkin, the first of four film scores that the composer will create for Hitchcock. What effect does the Tiomkin score have on the mood, atmosphere, and even the pace of this opening scene? The music establishes the scene in a cheery open on the children playing in the street. There is a pause of silence while the landlady talks to Charlie. When she leaves, the music comes back up under him, and emphasizes his emotional turmoil. It also ramps up the tension of him crossing the street in front of them as if he were going to violently assault them, and then falls away after he passes without other action. Finally, the piano stomps to match the footfalls of the two chasers. It draws the attention to the gait of the police, who follow Charlie almost in lockstep as if on parade.
  10. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period? There is a loneliness to the opening cruse through Manderlay's miniature set. In the previous films there was a very populated screen establishing the scene and atmosphere. The dialogue establishes that the film will be a flashback. This is quite different than how the other flims start in medias res. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? The mobile camerwork suggests the POV of the narrator The use of the miniature set is a Hithcock staple -- though this one was implemented by Selznick. Rear projection of the ocean behing Maxim is also a Hitchcock touch. How does this opening sequence use Manderley--the house itself--as a kind of character in the story? What affect does the flashback structure and the voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? Maderlay is featured in quite a extensive opening shot -- it is clearly a character in teh film The narrator underlines its importance to the story which apparently will be a flashback, centering on Manderlay. The flashback implies that whatever happens, Mrs. DeWinter will survive.
  11. 1. Now that you have seen multiple openings to Hitchcock's British films, how does this opening both fit a pattern you have seen previously as well as deviate from other opening scenes? Public space, use of music and the boisterous crowd to set a lively mood, the 'slice of life' character array asking the questions mirrors the almost prototypes of characters displayed in the earlier films. It deviates from the earlier films as Hitchcock again becomes more naturalistic in his style. Deviates - Also, he subverts expectations in an almost meta way as he uses angles and montages that meant something sinister in films such as the Lodger, but here he is playing with the audience by using the same shots and techniques to introduce us to the hero of the story. 2. Do you agree or disagree with Rothman's assessment that Hitchcock in this film is focused on introducing a more innocent character than in previous opening sequences of his films? Yes. One has a real sense of warmness and affection to the feel of the crowd in the music hall. The extended montage of folks calling out questions takes us through a pretty broad spectrum of character types. One is certain to find one to identify with. 3. Reflect on the role of yet another public space opening a Hitchcock film--this time a music hall--the prominence of a performer (Mr. Memory), and the reactions of the audience in the film to Mr. Memory's act. How does these on-screen elements play into the Hitchcock touch as described by Gene Phillips? I have heard suggestions that Mr. Memory is the macguffin of the film, but I don't see that it is really set up here. There is nothing to suggest that Mr. Memory is an important character at this point in the film. He isn't even entertaining relative to the crowd interacting with him. The crowd reaction to the act is irreverent and farcical -- they don't take him entirely seriously. This may telegraph the lighter touch Hitchcock intends to deliver with the film. At any rate it weds the story inexorably to the 'common man'. Hannay is literally a 'face in the crowd'.
  12. 1. In this sequence, describe how Hitchcock uses sound design to put you into the subjective "mind of Alice"? Be specific. Hitchcock uses sound in the sequence we see from the perspective of Alice. In other words, it is the sounds not just that are going on around her, but that she is focusing on. 2. Describe the different ways that the sound design of this scene operates in counterpoint to the visual track. For example, how does Hitchcock set up the shot where the knife flies out of Alice's hand so that it registers a shock in his audience? Pay attention to both what is happening visually and aurally. Be specific. Hitchcock often has a conversation going on in the background while he simultaneously moves the camera around either to capture something that someone is doing, or to reveal something else that he wants the audience to pay attention to. In the scene we are shown, Alice is obsessing over the murder, and the conversation goes on without her. You can see visually that she is consumed by inner thoughts. Hitchcock cleverly uses the audio to reveal some insight to her state of mind by emphasizing the word 'knife' to the point of absurdity. The drumbeat of repetition of the word ramps Alice up to a frenzy as it resonates with her interior monologue. In other instances, he uses the audio as a counter point to what the visual story being told is. 3. Why do you think this particular use of subjective sound is not used frequently in cinema? I don't know that the current state of cinema support the work of auteurs like Hitchcock. This being said, other films such as Rosemary's Baby and Repulsion use subjective sound very well to create a sense of the surreal to those stories. Out of fashion?
  13. 1. In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene? There is much being done in the service of building tension / anticipation with the POV shots in the film. One is in the heads of the students moving across the office with plenty of time to speculate on a number of unpleasant possibilities as to why they were summoned. In a similar fashion when she is approaching them, there is a similar wait while we hope to discover who will be identified by her. 2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling? I am not sure what the POV tracking shot is for in this scene. I see it where she is looking from one to the other. All it does here is extend the length of time before we break out of the tension caused by the POV. 3. What connections (visual techniques, images, motifs, themes) do you notice between films that came before this (The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger) and a film that came after it (The Ring)? Please cite specific examples. The montage was there and the visual overlay of something imagined (her story) over something real (her telling the story) is something we saw in 'The Ring'. There it was his unspoken fear of what might happen. In 'Downhill' it is her retelling.
  14. It is interesting to note that the 'Dutch' angle is actually German in origin, the word being a bastardization of 'Deutsch'. At any rate, this was certainly something Hitchcock would have been exposed to in Germany.
  15. I wonder if part of the reason for the montage you describe isn't also to set the real premise of the film, which is the way the crime of the Avenger isn't just the murder of the 7 victims but also the degree to which the city is being held in an elevated grip of fear. Without this being obvious, the chain of events that follow, where an unknown man becomes the screen upon which the boarding house projects its paranoia, doesn't seem as believable. This, if done today, would almost certainly be linked to the obsession that Western Civilization, particularly the US has with living in fear -- that is based in something true, but has exploded into something much larger, more dangerous, and considerably less honest.

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