Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #3: Fighting For Her (Scene from The Ring)

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The expressions of the main character say it all...the fear and loathing of possibly losing his wife to the man in the mirror.  We see others having a grand old time, while he is tortured by the thought of leaving his wife to train for a fight. 

 

The visuals of the elongated piano keys and dancing women disappearing in a cloud of dust make things seem suddenly very surreal.  We can see the main character's mind is beginning to play tricks on him.  The faster tempo of movement towards the end of the clip increased the anticipation of what was going to happen. 

 

 

 

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I like the way Hitchcock isolates the characters by framing them within a mirror.  This not only requires the audience to focus on the characters contained within the mirror but it indicates that the rival has become fixated on the action contained in the mirror despite the frenetic activity that is taking place within the rest of the room.  By isolating on the man and woman in the chair, the rival becomes distorted in his thinking (as indicated by the elongated piano keys), until he reaches a fever pitch.

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I love the way Hitchcock used so many elements to build up the intensity of the jealousy brewing in the husband's mind about his wife with the champion boxer.  It starts with just some minor revelry -- falling into laps, a few energetic female dancers and then within seconds the scene speeds up -- more revelers partake, the dancing is faster (as is the music, but I'm not really including the music as it could be different depending on where you were watching a film), the cuts are shorter.  Then he starts using montage as distortion -- from the keys to the generally blurred scene, and finally we see the champion and his wife superimposed over the conversation with his manager.  My stomach was getting in knots as this short scene progressed.  

 

Most of the scene is subjective -- in fact, you don't really know that it's subjective for sure until the lead character bursts into the other room and sees nothing of what he was "seeing" from afar.  Hitchcock used short cuts, montage, distortion, superimposition and worked mirrors into the buildup of the tension -- all of these are evident in German expressionist films of that era.

 

As far as set design goes, we see the tranquil "parlor" or office -- stark with a poster on the wall -- as a very businesslike, staid setting juxtaposed with the party atmosphere of the living room with the picture window and the fluffy sofas and piano -- all items that just scream "relax" and "let loose."  There are also more wide shots in the party scene, whereas the room with the boxer and his manager is more cropped, with medium close ups and two shots -- a narrower viewpoint, with the manager focused on a single item -- getting this guy to be a champion.

Or the narrower viewpoint  is like the confining space of the boxing ring.

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I like how the mirror was used to have the husband's focus completely on his wife with the other man while the party around him was in full swing. Showed how intent he was on his wife and how unaware of his surroundings he had become. 

 

The frenetic, excitable pace of the party also seemed to be a lead-up to the husband's rage which reached its climax with the superimposing of the couple kissing over the husband's face. 

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1. How does Hitchcock use montage or expressive editing to add vitality and rhythm to this scene? 

 

I appreciate the way Hitchcock uses editing to convey the frenetic pace of the party going on.  By cutting from dancers to other revelers to piano keys to blurred human images, one is drawn into the somewhat disturbing, drunkenly frantic scene.  His experimental style is on full display here.  

 

 

2. As is the case with a lot of German Expressionist films, in this scene, there are many shots that are very subjective and put us into the psychological mind of a main character. Please note the various techniques Hitchcock uses to create that feeling of subjectivity. 

 
The main character is tortured by jealousy, emotional turmoil and inner conflict. Hitchcock highlights this by superimposing a scene of the man's impression of his wife flirting with and eventually kissing his rival in the other room with a scene of his promoter trying to convince him to begin training to further his career.  The other men in the room with him are paying no attention to the debauchery in the next room; it is driving him nearly insane.  
 
3. How does Hitchcock stage the action, use set design, and editing techniques to increase the stakes in the rivalry between the two gentlemen?  
 
 
I thought that the device of the mirror Hitchcock uses - with which the protagonist sees what might really be happening or might only be happening in his tortured imagination - is an effective and intriguing one.  The serious meeting happening in one room contrasts sharply with the boozy party in the next, and this plot device really ramps up the tension and desperation we can see in the boxer.  He looks like he's about to break down.  His rival has truly become "the enemy".
 
 
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1. How does Hitchcock use montage or expressive editing to add vitality and rhythm to this scene? 

 

He starts slowly by cutting back and forth between the two very different scenes, using juxtaposition to underline the differences between the two. One room is more business-like and no-nonsense while the other is lavishly decorated and filled with laughing, smiling people. One scene is energetic and fast-paced almost to the point of making the viewer dizzy while the other is very still and focused. The fighter can technically see into the next room thanks to the reflection in the mirror, but he's not getting a complete picture of what's going on. He only sees his wife talking and flirting with another man -- a man that's in a position to be partying with everyone else, not stuck engaging in shop talk in the next room.

 

Hitchcock also juxtaposes the closer, less inclusive reflected image of the goings-on in the next room with the actual full shot of the entire party plus other closer shots of all the action -- dancing, drinking, singing, music, silliness. You feel breathless watching the dancers kick up their heels and listening to the piano playing faster and faster. Then you feel even more breathless when the images start to overlap one another in the mind's eye of the fighter. It goes from a dizzying but understandable chaos to true chaos -- so many things going on at one time and in conjunction with one another that you lose your ability to keep up.

 

2. As is the case with a lot of German Expressionist films, in this scene, there are many shots that are very subjective and put us into the psychological mind of a main character. Please note the various techniques Hitchcock uses to create that feeling of subjectivity. 

 

It starts with the mirror. We count on mirrors daily to show us things we need to see, but can't without a little assistance -- like whether our hair's combed properly or whether we have spinach in our teeth. Almost always things about ourselves. However, mirrors still only show us a reflected version of reality, as opposed to reality itself. It's enough to get a clear picture of what's going on, but it's still reality projected back to us in reverse. It's fitting that a mirror is the fighter's only means of seeing into the next room for that reason. I also feel the symbolism of the mirror is cleverly underscored by the way he only sees the portion of the room where his wife is -- the part of himself/his life that truly is over there in the middle of all that action. 

 

Once the fighter's imagination really starts to go to work, he stops seeing his wife only in the mirror that is at least showing him some rational version of things as they are. Now he's in his imagination, seeing his worst fears coming true. The image gets strong enough that he can't completely focus on what his manager is saying because the ghostly image of his wife possibly kissing the other man won't go away. As his imagination continues to run away with him, the overlapping of all the different ghost images combined with the increasingly frantic music shows the confusion and disorientation he's feeling.

 

Eventually, the images start to distort even further, as if they're being seen in a funhouse mirror -- wavy, and warped, and stretched. You can't trust a funhouse mirror the way you can a traditional one for obvious reasons, although you may be tempted to if the distorted reflection confirms your worst fears. It's a perfect way to show what's going on internally here while also establishing a clear link to what triggered it all -- the other reflection in the real mirror that actually is there.

 

3. How does Hitchcock stage the action, use set design, and editing techniques to increase the stakes in the rivalry between the two gentlemen?  

 

The action, set design, and the way the two settings are edited together to create one very powerful scene do a great job of showing the differences between the two very different positions in life the two men occupy. The rival is part of that crowd in the room that's so lushly decorated. The people are well-dressed. Everything and everybody there looks absolutely gorgeous. The room looks and feels spacious -- a sharp contrast to the next room, which is made to feel smaller and less lush thanks to smart set design and tighter framing as far as the camera shots. Most of the folks in the party room look like they've all had a good bit of champagne over the course of the evening as well (and probably not the cheap stuff). I get the impression that no one in that room needs to worry about trying to function at work with a hangover in the morning. 

 

The fighter's not quite there yet, although he hopes he might be someday. He knows his wife wants that life in the other room (and maybe he wants it too). But he's not a "champ" yet and is still in the process of earning his money as the title cards tell us. He's just afraid of not being able to succeed before some other guy that can give his wife all those things right now woos her away from him. You can tell it's not too late yet. The wife looks at her husband's reflection in the same mirror from before with a wistful, longing expression on her face. You can tell she wishes she was partying and having a blast with her actual husband and feels... disappointed that he's not in there with her? Definitely a little unhappy and bummed. That might change if he takes too long to become a "champ" and you can tell that perhaps the fighter's worries possibly aren't completely unfounded.

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In this film Hitchcock makes use of another of his favorite subjects to build a suspense: the paranoia. In this scene especially he's able to portray the character's feelings, isolation and intense jealousy in such a way that the viewer can easily feel his torment, in the middle of a party where everyone is having fun he's dominated by the fear of losing his wife. The way the tormented imagination of the character is shown in this scene made me even sense some degree of surrealism.

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The boxer's state of mind at the end of this clip is despair: He's worried his wife is going to be seduced by city life in general - and the "champion" boxer in particular - when he leaves town to train. I found the shots of the musical instruments particularly effective. That mini-sequence within the sequence begins with hands on a piano, but the keys are distorted in a way no piano can go. Hands playing other instruments are then superimposed on top of the wavy piano, creating a grotesque, kaleidoscopic image that is disorienting not only in a visual sense, but in a way in the audio realm, as you can imagine that the tunes that these hands are playing are not in harmony with each other.

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As I watched the clip from The Ring, I thought about films like The Party that recorded the drug-laced psychedelic era. The champagne quaffed right from the bottle, the smoking, the wild dancers echoed by the spectators in the party-scene: this scene plays like a drug trip right down to the melting piano keys and the funhouse of superimposed images. The party room--perhaps more accurately the wild mental life of the young fighter--is a real place but seen through the distorted mirror (literally portrayed) of the fighter's insecurity and jealousy. There is no moral bedrock, only the shifting emotions and constant stream of stimulants. This is the world of German expressionism but it is also the world of the flappers and It girls who populated the Hollywood films of the era. In today's Hitchcock film clip, he emphasizes that he was  American trained. So, without minimizing the importance of German expressionism, I would like to know what American films of the era he was looking at. 

 

Thematically, the lure of wealth and its relationship to sexual power that leads the fighter to conclude that he can best preserve his marriage by being a champion in the ring, is a theme that reappears so often in Hitchcock and certainly connects to German expressionism in films like The Blue Angel. 

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The young fighter in a room with his manager glimpses in the mirror a wild party. He's not entirely distracted from the serious plans presented to him, but he sees (or imagines) his wife cozying with his opponent!

Now we cut to the party, and it's raging. Two dancers inspire the revelers. Everyone in the room is moving. The young challengers wife nearly hangs on his opponent. She seems transported by this new man. A glance at her husband through the looking glass momentarily deflates her mood. Sober thoughts are quickly routed by dancers and the party's wild air.

From her intimate conversation with the rival, a dissolve shows the young fighter and his manager talking earnestly. Training starts tomorrow, and his wife won't be around while he trains. The wild mood of the party leads him to imagine his wife's betrayal. A montage expresses this feeling, the last image an imagined embrace between his wife and his rival.

The nightmare vision inspires the fighter to attend the party at last. But his appearance only seems to annoy the participants. Ignored, he retreats. He observes, at a remove, in the mirror. The door closes, blocking the reflection, and what's left of his link to them. The fighter faces a professional challenge - the fight - but he's also confronted with a personal crisis. Is his relationship with his wife at risk?

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1. How does Hitchcock use montage or expressive editing to add vitality and rhythm to this scene?

As the pace of the dance and the music increased, you could see the jealousy of the husband increase until both stopped abruptly when he spoke to the room.

 

2. As is the case with a lot of German Expressionist films, in this scene, there are many shots that are very subjective and put us into the psychological mind of a main character. Please note the various techniques Hitchcock uses to create that feeling of subjectivity.

The couple being able to see each other, but not directly, only as a reflection. So they see each other as they imagine the other to be. The use of the reflection being lifted off the mirror and superimposed shows the husband being all consumed with the actions of his wife, to the point of not hearing what the man was saying to him.

 

3. How does Hitchcock stage the action, use set design, and editing techniques to increase the stakes in the rivalry between the two gentlemen?

I loved the contrast between the two rooms...in one, fun and frivolity...in the other, serious business. The only connection between the two, a strategically placed mirror, which allowed the two characters a small peek of what was transpiring in the room where they were not. The husband could see his wife...enjoying the company of another man, the wife could see her husband seemingly intent on what was being discussed in the room where he was. Although the husband can see, it's obvious all he hears is the laughter and music...as the pace of it increases...his thoughts drift from the subject being discussed in his room to what is transpiring between his wife and the other man. The thought becomes obsessive to the point of his imagining his wife kissing the other man..his rival.

The use of blurring the shots, of showing a quickened pace of piano playing and dancing all coincide with the man's growing jealousy and inability to concentrate on anything except his wife and the other man.

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Why did people get so dressed up in the "olden Days?" This continued through the 60's as my father wore a tie at our dinner table every night. People dressed up to go to parties and even air travel. You rarely would see someone on an airplane who was not in their best clothes. I love the casual environment we live in but in some ways I admire the respect shown for daily events in those "olden days"

Come on! Wear a tee-shirt and jeans. The people in the 20's were goofy as hell.

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1. By creating suspense at the climax.  He achieves this by crosscutting between different spaces and actions.

 

2. Subjectivity.  By having us view what is going on in the mind of the main character.  This lures us into the psychological mind of the character.

3. First he sets up the main character ( a star) that we would view as an everyday person.  We view him in a familiar setting a meeting.  Simple for us to understand because we know it.  Then starts the montage.  The camera takes us on a tour of different rooms and the activities going on.  I personally felt that the length of time we viewed the people dancing was to slowly take us from our comfortable selves into a frenetic mind set.  Eventually using superimposition with a quickened pace eventually back to the main character showing his vulnerability/uncertainty of what is right or true

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1. How does Hitchcock use montage or expressive editing to add vitality and rhythm to this scene? The tension of the montage adds to the drama ending in a moment that you would think would be highly climactic but he allows the moment to drop so that he could build it up later in another method of filmimg.

 

2. As is the case with a lot of German Expressionist films, in this scene, there are many shots that are very subjective and put us into the psychological mind of a main character. Please note the various techniques Hitchcock uses to create that feeling of subjectivity. The shots of expressionism allows us to see the madness building in the husband whose wife is flirting with another man. Fad-ins and outs and moving images around the screen produce the vision of inter thought.

 

3. How does Hitchcock stage the action, use set design, and editing techniques to increase the stakes in the rivalry between the two gentlemen? The view of the wife and husband though the mirror; the straight shot of the boxing agent and his reference to the poster builds tension. Also, the annoying dancing flappers and there constant motion with there hands for others to join in = tension.

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Hitchcock intercuts shots of a lively crowd (markedly introduced by two very energetic, giggling women dancing passed an open door. They quickly make their rounds and grace us with their presence throughout the scene.) Hitchcock’s implementation of the fingers tickling the piano keys and a spinning record sets an upbeat rhythmic flow for the people to freely and happily dance the night away. I rather adored this type of introduction to the good times occurring across the hall (away from the up and coming fighter.) The two dancing women quickly enter the frame and then flailing about, laugh as they take a spill landing on other guests is a great setup for a party​ scene. Both the editing and the music within the montage strike a rhythmic balance and tone creating a to and from cutting technique.

 

The fighter, who is yet to be crowned champion, is coupled with a more serious, even somewhat melancholic tone as he ruminates leaving his wife behind to train for the upcoming boxing match. Here, we witness a clear influence of German Expressionism. The fighter’s mind latches onto an exaggerated feel and Hitchcock interprets his sense of unrest in using an interaction of the fighter’s wife with the other man (a.k.a. the champion.) The fighter sees the two everywhere he looks. This reveals a clear lack of focus and mental stamina which Hitchcock exhibits expertly. Dancing people become elongated and fade into a set of piano keys and fingers striking them in accordance to the melodic beat. Sets of hands fill the frame as we are then introduced to hands readily strumming other instruments. This montage concludes with the fighter (essentially foreseeing) his wife kissing the other man, a look of fright overtakes his face as he shouts something in efforts​ to halt the maddens. He quickly snaps back into the present upon a realization that everything was all in his head.

 

Hitchcock pits the champion and the fighter against one another (they are literally framed side by side in a fade in/out manner, nearly in a split screen effect), not only in the essence of a new fighter vs the reigning champ, but also as a man potentially fighting for his marriage. Artistically, Hitchcock allows this whole scene to unfold from a mere glance by the fighter into a mirror, spearheading the aforementioned montages. Mirrors often imply self reflection, revelations, but we must also remember and then acknowledge, looks can be deceiving. And in the world of Hitchcock, deceit is the definite precursor to suspense.

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1. Hitchcock uses expressive editing to add vitality and rhythm to the scene by starting off the scene with the jazzy music and the two dancers entertaining the crowd. Their dancing speeds up to a frantic pace and they fall out with exhaustion and the one dancer is guzzling the champagne instead of politely sipping it. This frantic pace increases as the crowds joins in the celebration. Meanwhile in the other room the action is very reserved and the husband looks like it is hard to concentrate on his manager's words with so much excitement in the next room. The wife seems to be too comfortable being that close to another man, even worse her husband's rival.

Especially when her husband is in the next room. 

 

2. As in German Expressionist films we see the anxiety on the husband's face as the party gets wilder and he sees his wifr flirty and getting closer to his rival. But what he see is subjective. The piano keys begin to distort and look like legs of the dancers, long and sinewy. The piano players hand are moving frantically like the dancers hands were during their dance. The spinning record show the thoughts spinning around in the husband's head as he imagines the worst. He finally can take no more and rushes into the room, only to see he was mistaken.

 

3. The room where the party takes place looks inviting. Plenty of room for dancing. A lively crowd gathered for some fun. Couches with pillows and lamps give it a warm glow. A wide view to show all the action.The other room is small and very business-like. The furniture is rigid and the action is very calm. The shots are tighter giving the feeling of being cramped. Which denotes the pressure the man feels as he contemplates leaving his wife behind whiles he goes to train. The use of the mirror to reflect what the wife and husband see is great. When she looks in the mirror and sees her husband watching her she looks ashamed and a little uncomfortable at what she is doing. When the husband looks in the mirror he is distressed at what he thinks is going on between his wife and his rival. But then when he bursts into the room and he sees that was not what was really happening we know that the previous montage was all in his head. Brilliant!

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1. How does Hitchcock use montage or expressive editing to add vitality and rhythm to this scene? 


The different clips added in with the record, the piano man, the crazy dancing - they are all combined to create a frenetic feeling to the scene which illustrates the husband's paranoia in a very vivid way.  Then with the piano keys and the dancers that blend into each other, we become visually as mad and paranoid as him - quite a disconcerting scene!


2. As is the case with a lot of German Expressionist films, in this scene, there are many shots that are very subjective and put us into the psychological mind of a main character. Please note the various techniques Hitchcock uses to create that feeling of subjectivity. 


The main character is creating more out of the situation than is really happening:  he furthers the two characters: his wife and the other boxer, as turning their sitting together into a kiss; we become engaged in the situation and see if from his point of view believing that that could really happen!  


3. How does Hitchcock stage the action, use set design, and editing techniques to increase the stakes in the rivalry between the two gentlemen?  


The two separate rooms where each boxer is sitting creates a physical barrier between them.  In the one room, the "champion boxer" is sitting with the other man's wife in a very suggestive way.  The party and the dancing, the music and the champagne, all create a mood of excessive excitement and frivolity; while in the other room, the two men are telling the young boxer that he cannot bring his wife and that he must fight for her.  It is a quiet and somber mood that Hitchcock creates.  This boxer has no choice.


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1) How does Hitchcock use montage or expressive editing to add vitality and rhythm to this scene?

 

Hitch includes kinetic energy to describe the chaotic pace of the two conflicting bedrooms: one with a very lively party, and the other with the boxer who has to choose between training and his wife. The bedroom with the boxer is bare, lifeless, and full of jealousy, which describes the boxer who imagines his wife kissing another man. Montages and expression is used to create a frenetic sense of tension and impending fear. The energy and obvious unadulterated nature of the dance party doesn't seem to be on the boxer's side of things. 

 

2) As is the case with a lot of German Expressionist films, in this scene, there are many shots that are very subjective and put us into the psychological mind of a main character. Please note the various techniques Hitchcock uses to create that feeling of subjectivity. 

 

In this case, certain objects, such as the mirror, keyboard, and piano are distorted to create the nightmarish torment of the main character and the obvious conflict with his wife. He doesn't seem to fit in with the other party guests, and he is in the other room where it is less rambunctious than it is in the main room.  His paranoia is manipulated against him because his reality is mixed with what he thinks is happening. His imagination gets the better of him. He is probably a character who always suffers, especially for being a boxer.

 

3) How does Hitchcock stage the action, use set design, and editing techniques to increase the stakes in the rivalry between the two gentlemen? 

 

The mirror is used to represent two sides: the boxer and the champ. This can be seen as two side of a coin. The boxer is tails because he fears that he will lose his wife to another man. He has probably been unlucky most of his life. The champ is heads because he is with the boxer's wife. The aspect of jealousy and longing is apparent throughout the scene. The boxer may not belong in the same social circle as his wife, and he is obvious not as outgoing as she clears to be. Hitch uses both rooms as catalysts for the upper class (the champ) against the lower class (the boxer). 

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Daily Dose #3

Daily Dose #3: Fighting For Her
Scene from Hitchcock's The Ring (1927)

1. How does Hitchcock use montage or expressive editing to add vitality and rhythm to this scene? 

I think that the fast cut in the party room increases the dynamics of all the action that are taken place there (the women dancing, the musicians playing their instruments, the people enjoying the music and the wife talking with the other boxer). Also, this is emphasized if it is compared with the rhythm created in the other room when the husband is talking about his training. 

In the case of the superimpositions of images and the deformations of some of them, clearly conveys the confussion of the husband, but specially this set the point of view and the main subjectivity of the scene that belongs to him. In that way, we can understand how he feels and how he can see the world based on his fear that his wife could be unfaithful. I particularly like that the superimposition of the wife kissing the other boxer remains while the camera (assuming the point of view of the husband) turns to look at the man who is talking about the training.

 

2. As is the case with a lot of German Expressionist films, in this scene, there are many shots that are very subjective and put us into the psychological mind of a main character. Please note the various techniques Hitchcock uses to create that feeling of subjectivity.

In the first place, the editing is very effective juxtaposing what happens in the party room and the reactions of the man. It makes the emotions stronger. Also, the superimpositions of his wife, that are only seen by him (even inside the other room and while he is looking at the other man) make us clear that we are inside his head and the point-of-view shot confirms it. The use of the deformation of the party room people, the piano and the superimpositions of the instruments are another example of the influence of the German Expressionism. It could be related with despair, confussion and creates a certain mood that is progressively more intense as the emotions of the man burst and ends up entering into the party room. It is remarkable the way the superimposition of the record-player is spinning precisely in the head of the man as it represents the mix of bad ideas that he is having regarding his wife and the other man. 

 

3. How does Hitchcock stage the action, use set design, and editing techniques to increase the stakes in the rivalry between the two gentlemen?

One of the elements that delights me more is the mirror, because beyond the fact that it is a practical way for the man to watch what is happening in the other room, it is a symbol. He is watching himself, he would like to be like the other boxer, who is a winner and be the one who impresses his wife, but he is not. He is alone and just watching from far. 

In general, it is possible to identify a clear opposition between the two spaces in which we can see the man and his rival. The size of the rooms, the amount of objects, the colours of the decoration, the number of people and movement. The man who feels less is in the small, not-so-decorated, lonelier and, in a certain way, boring, room. Finally, the pace of the editing is other technique that remarks the differences between them and the rivalry.  
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1. How does Hitchcock use montage or expressive editing to add vitality and rhythm to this scene? 

 

The party scene is one of quick cuts to the many players in the room all enjoying the moment, the dance women duo, the man with a cigarette dangling from his lips as he plays the piano, the group playing guitars and ukulele, while the whole room's guests observe the dance, drinking and encouraging everyone further, and meanwhile, across the hall a more somber episode is unfolding about the fighter's chance for fame in a upcoming title fight.

 

Both the fighter and his wife can see each other via the hallway mirrors, which adds to each one's emotional states and allows them to peek into the "soul" of the other, if only in their own minds eye. We see their minds working as we zoom in on their faces; their expressions show their thoughts and concerns. Will  fighter go off to do his job, leaving his wife behind? Will the wife, left along, fall prey to the enticements present all around her? Hitchcock is building up the scene for the audience to want to know more.

 

2. As is the case with a lot of German Expressionist films, in this scene, there are many shots that are very subjective and put us into the psychological mind of a main character. Please note the various techniques Hitchcock uses to create that feeling of subjectivity. 

 

The overlaying shot of the spinning record, musicians strumming guitars, and the distorted piano keyboard and finally the scene of the fighter's wife in an intimate encounter with her companion all blend to the frantic minds-eye view of what the fighter assumes is happening in the next room. Hitchcock shows his emotional level of anxiety in leaving his wife to go off and train and fight. Does he put his career in jeopardy to protect his marriage or trust his promoter, leave his wife behind, and try to be champ?

Then as emotion build the fighter bursts into the other room only to find the setting different then he imagined and seemingly apologetic, excuses himself and returns to his conference.

 

3. How does Hitchcock stage the action, use set design, and editing techniques to increase the stakes in the rivalry between the two gentlemen?

 

The staging is in two parts, the party on one side of the hall, with the frivolity and antics of the crowd and the office room on the opposite side, where the more serious matter of the fight game is transpiring. 

The party is an big open room, brightly lit, with lots of action and merriment, while the office is smaller, more claustrophobic, and static.Here there is a serious discussion as to how the fighter must prepare for his big match and what sacrifices he must make to go forward with that event.

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1. How does Hitchcock use montage or expressive editing to add vitality and rhythm to this scene? He uses this type of editing to compare the frantic nature of the girls dancing to the boxer's increasing anger and distress towards his wife's flirting with his opponent.

 

2. As is the case with a lot of German Expressionist films, in this scene, there are many shots that are very subjective and put us into the psychological mind of a main character. Please note the various techniques Hitchcock uses to create that feeling of subjectivity. The dancers' frenzy mirrors the man's anguish, the blurred images of the dancers and the elongated piano keys symbolize how the man is distorting what he sees and the spinning record represents the man starting to spin out of control.

 

3. How does Hitchcock stage the action, use set design, and editing techniques to increase the stakes in the rivalry between the two gentlemen? He put the man and his wife in separate rooms, but then strategically placed mirrors so they would be able to see each other.

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The use of the mirror in this scene from "The Ring" was particularly effective and was a masterful move by such a young director. The short scene shows a few things we will see from Hitch throughout his career including cross-cutting and montages.

 

We're watching people in two very different rooms. In one, we see serious looking men in black tuxedos talking to a boxer they appear to be grooming for a big fight. In the other room is a party with a much lighter tone. The boxer sees the reflection in a mirror of a woman, who it turns out is his wife. She's sitting on the lap of a man watching the dancing and then sees her husband's reflection in the same mirror. Is that guilt on her face? The dancing gets wilder, people are falling over each other, the champagne is flowing and there's a feeling the room is getting louder - even though it's a silent film (nice work by Hitch here)!

 

Hitch continues his patented use of cross-cutting by showing the wife in one room and the boxer in the other. The boxer is told he will start training the next day but not to bring his wife. That appears to trouble him and he looks back into the mirror and sees his wife and the other man again. He grows upset and reality becomes distorted. He visualizes the image "leaving the mirror" and moving toward him. In a montage - another Hitchcock touch -  the image of his wife and man is superimposed over the people in the room, growing bigger as things start to move out of control. There's a record spinning and large, distorted piano keys being played by a musician. The boxer sees his wife kissing the other man and he screams! He looks into the room but everyone is standing still staring at him. His wife isn't kissing anyone - it was just his imagination. But how much was real or imagined - just the kiss or the entire party? (I don't have that answer yet.) He doesn't want to leave his wife but he's told not to worry by the promoters who, clearly out to use him, prey on his insecurities by saying the other man is "a champ" and he's not - yet. The boxer smiles: It looks like he's going to fight.

 

I'm looking forward to watching the entire film to see how this all works out.

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[Part of the free course through Ball University and TCM] - Daily Dose #1~ June 25, 2018: question do you see the beginning of the "Hitchcock touch" in the sequence (providing specific examples). In the scene, a woman and her dream--a ticket to become famous, even rich? The two men outside the theater wanting to rob anyone and they see a woman who's pacing back and forth for the door to the theater. One man nudges the other and says he's going to rob her and take whatever she has in her purse within reach. So he ends up taking a piece of paper from her purse. Now she goes into the theater having enough confidence to speak to the people that work backstage. She reaches into her purse to get the letter and finds out that the letter is not in her purse she takes everything out but no letter... where is it? how could she have lost that letter, which is probably going through her mind over and over and over. Where is this "Hitchcock touch" to this particular scene: you have a woman who is desperate who is just praying that she will get picked she will get out of that nasty rot that she might be in her private life and then to have it be taken away by two pickpocketers who were probably just really looking for money, but ended up taking the letter. There is a beginning of Hitchcock's touch the facial expression of the woman despair panic and then we see the facial expressions of the two men that were outside of the theater kind of sly and sneaky and having no regard for anyone especially a woman they only took care of themselves they only looked out for themselves the number one.

Daily Dose #2- do you agree or disagree with Strauss,etc., assessment that this sequence contains elements or an approach that we will see throughout Hitchcock's 50 yrs of his film career?

I believe that all directors, including Hitchcock, needed to get the attention of the audience whether it is the hero and the heroine of the film a scene of landscape a beautiful mountain in the background or something happening off of the distance and they comes to the viewers' spectrum, or it could be an animal or an object something that needs to be focus on, but not really focus on it, and then once you get pulled in, drawn into the story, seeing it from the beginning or maybe right in the middle but you understand what is happening even just before the film starts. What Hitchcock does in each of his films especially the ones that I have seen the Black and Whites of the twenties and thirties, and the forties, the 50s and even the 60s through the 70s, wants to tell you what is going on just a little bit just a little piece of crumb, half of a piece of a pie, but not the whole pie he wants you to stick with his film watch every action at how each of the characters speak to each other, and with each other their facial expression changes when they have happiness or sadness or fear or anger or frustration and you too understand that the audience can relate to those characters that are on the screen that are being portrayed in the film with the storyline-- this is exactly how Alfred Hitchcock makes everyone feels or thinks about the film. But the viewer may have a question or curious thought about a scene or a character...

 

#3 - since this is a silent film do you feel there was any limitation or an opening scene that was lacking synchronicity of the spoken dialogue?

 

No, I cannot say that even a "talkie" could set the stage - so to speak, on how a director envisions the actors' performances we all understand that a silent film makes you, the viewer, see what the director NEEDS you to see and a similar director did the same thing with his movies and TV series, David Lynch. But this is about Hitchcock and not David Lynch. Perhaps TCM and Ball University would offer a free course about his film career?

 

I, myself have not seen any of Alfred Hitchcock's silent movies, none. So beginning next week--next Wednesday I will be watching "The Lodger". The Lodger is going to be part of Tuesday June 27th daily dose and I will be talking about the the little snippet of the video of the story of the film, and then answer questions that were added to the daily dose.

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A side note. If there is a piano player, and people on instruments, then why is a record player playing? Are they playing to the record? Just sayin'

 

Good observation. Why didn't I notice that?

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1.    Hitchcock employed expressive editing techniques in a quick fashion, especially in the sequence where the late night dance party was taking place.  This might have employed used to keep the audience interested in what was going on in “The Ring.”  Had it been the traditional silent mystery feature with footage and title cards, the audience might have lost interest.  The technique of superimposed images and “cut-on-action” elements would serve as major enhancements to Hitchcock’s “The Ring.”

 

2.    For the area of subjectivity, Hitchcock employed the setting of depth when it came to the husband being jealous and perturbed about his wife’s attraction to the other man, thus beginning the “superimposed footage” portion of the film.   Along with the superimposed footage, the “distorted/twisted” elements also gives the audience that the husband’s “view” is melting before his very eyes after seeing his wife with another person.  The “melted piano keys” visual sequence is interesting (along with the superimposed visual effects).

 

3.    Hitchcock staged this in a “point of view” method, showing different views of the rival characters and their accounts of what was going on that evening.  Once again, the superimposed images and the visual effects enhance the overall story/sequence.

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