Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #4: Depends on Your Point of View (Scene from Downhill)

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1. In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene?

 

The POV dolly shots and tracking shots give the viewer a more intimate relationship with the characters, a feeling of being in the room with them. We can feel the growing dread and anticipation the young men feel as they await to hear what what the schoolmaster and young woman have to say. By the same token, when the camera and POV shots are turned in her direction, we can see and feel Mabel's conflict about her impending lie and her deep concern about her pregnancy.

 

2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling?

 

By using these shots, Hitchcock has the audience sympathizing with both the young men and for Mabel. We recognize early on that it is a difficult situation. It engages us, and keeps us interested in their story and how it will turn out.

 

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.

 

While this scene from Downhill is quieter in visual tone than Hitchcock's previous films and The Ring, it retains some of the same elements of those movies. For instance, conflict is presented up front so that we, the audience, can concentrate on the suspense and unravelling of the secrets that are to come afterward. Although this is the first time he uses POV dolly shots & POV tracking shots, they become a signature tool for him and he uses them again in the Ring, in the crowd shots at the beginning and in the party shots when the boxer moves back and forth between the rooms, imagining his wife's affair, and where the dancers are dancing. Mabel's pearls represent the "gift" given to her by one of the boys. This is a theme often, but not always, revisited by Hitchcock: poor girl, rich boy and the difficulties that ensue. In a similar way, the namesake of The Lodger gave Daisy the dress she modeled in the shop, though she wasn't able to accept it.

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1. In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene? 

It struck me as pure German expressionism.  It definitely gave the feeling of how the boys were experiencing this predatory woman—moving toward them like a snake or in a dream.  They are scared to death because they have an inkling of what it is but she is still trying to decide who she will pin her pregnancy on. 

2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling? Mainly to experiment with getting the sense of her approaching them like a snake and to show the sense of time elongated and rising tension as she makes her accusation.    

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 POV.  The lack of dialogue or need for it.  Strong facial expressions make up for words.  Physical movement (dancing) in TPG and TR, specifically by women. Nothing static.  More about emotion than information or story in the sense that the dynamics of the story aren’t as important as how they feel about it and how he is showing that through visuals.  The Lodger uses montage to show the panic people are feeling in the aftermath of the murder.  Women as free spirits and anything but “housewives and mothers.”  Even the woman who is pickpocketed in TPG is trying to get into show business.  Women can be victims but they can victimize as well, so there is equality; if not equality, they matter and are not invisible.  jOnly in TPG do we get his sense of humor.

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1.  In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots/POV tracking shots in this scene?

 

It brings forth a sense of dread and fear in slow motion that would be less effective if it was just a  shot from a long distance.

 

2.  Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? what does it add to his visual storytelling?

 

It gives more direction and a wider perspective.

 

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 be specific.

 

The close ups and how the frame is spilling onto another showing different perspectives and context as in The Ring.  It also shows the breakdown of the main characters in a similar fashion with screens showing what is going through their minds.

The theme follows a pattern with The Lodger because of the false accusation.

The Ring and The Pleasant garden have similar themes with the action that is going on.  It's very noisy and the characters are having fun for the most part. 

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In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene?

 

A sense of anticipation on my part, but a sense of dread for the characters.  A sense of dread as they approach the stern looking headmaster.  I verdict already decided, but who will be punished?  Which boy will she indicate as she approaches and she is framed with boys on both sides?  The judge (the headmaster) that will deliver the verdict is out of focus in the background, not as consequential (for now) as the jury, the girl.

 

Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling?

 

This may be a new technique that Hitchcock is experimenting with.  Besides the view from the camera on the truck in The Lodger, most if not all shots have been static and more of the composition of the elements as they more through space, and sometimes those elements are static themselves.  The dolly/POV adds a sense of depth of space.  It allows objects (or actors ie cattle heh) to become background elements and focus to evolve.  From the headmaster to the girl to the boys.

 

What connections (visual techniques, images, motifs, themes) do you notice between films that came before this (The Pleasure GardenThe Lodger) and a film that came after it (The Ring)? Please cite specific examples. 

 

Composition, objects of focus framed by other similar objects.  Being black and white, the use of contrast of light and dark tones.  I know part of this was about putting the directors background behind us, but it creeps in.  Is this scene a cathartic moment for his Catholic school days?  Of course, the theme of the wrongfully being accused of the crime.  Another technique, the superimposed images for exposition.

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1. First of all, I must say that Hitchcock uses these techniques so seamlessly and with such grace that you really have to be looking for them to not have them slip by unnoticed because of one's involvement in the scene. The effect of these shots is that it gets us inside the characters headspace, what's rushing through his mind, and the connections that he is making mentally. Hitchcock doesn't use these types of shots just to be flashy, but they are purposeful and effective in his goal for each scene.

 

2. Similar idea here, I believe, in that Hitchcock uses these POV shots to have his audience relate more fully and completely with the character we are meant to empathize with. They give us a subjective viewpoint that Hitchcock wants us to see from that will allow us to get the most out of the scene emotionally. Of course, Hitchcock's storytelling skills are second to none and these shots and others pretty much erases the need for an overwhelming amount of title cards. After seeing the entirety of ​Downhill, ​I can't remember another silent film that is so efficient in its use of visual cues and shot composition as to barely ever need dialogue cards.

 

3. Out of those four films, I find it easiest to pair The Lodger ​with ​Downhill and The Pleasure Garden ​with The Ring. ​Perhaps it's simply the presence of Ivor Novello (or the beautiful restorations available on FilmStruck), but The Lodger ​and ​Downhill ​both track a young man's life as certain events lead him on certain paths, none of which he would have chosen given a choice. Novello's expressive demeanor and lanky physicality ground both films superbly and Hitchcock plays to his strengths to make it an impressive early collaboration. The Pleasure Garden and ​The Ring ​both deal more explicitly with love and its discontents, offering more melodramatic pleasure in their respective plot structures. In both, Hitchcock is in fine form when he shoots painful glances and the tragic pangs felt by his characters. In all four of these films, Hitchcock seems to be experimenting, both visually and thematically, with how he has a creative filmmaker can appeal to the audience's emotions, fears, and desires. The situations are all quite different in each film, but they all examine how people live their lives, deal with what they have to deal with, fight through the painful times, and soak in the joyful moments. In other words, exploring the human condition with an innovative style and personal touch, exactly what a great director is called to do.

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The POV shots are great at increasing the fear and trepidation as the two characters walk toward the headmaster. It definitely helps you see things from their point of view, but it also helps you think the thoughts they're thinking, and feel the feelings of dread.

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1, The POV dolly/tracking shots add subjectivity to the scene. We see the scene from the schoolboys' point of view as the 2 boys are heading towards the Headmaster who is looking at them menacingly and we experience the sense of nervous anticipation in the 2 boys. We are put in their shoes, as it were. Also as the girl approaches the 2 boys ready to accuse one of them, a tracking shot moving towards the boys creates suspense in the viewers as we wait for the girl to reveal the identity of her lover.

 

2. Hitch uses tracking shots to make us identify wtih the boys as they face a threatening situation with the headmaster and to make the viewer nervous and create suspense. Just showing the actors' reactions and faces would not be revealing enough. The movement of the camera shot adds suspense, drama and anticipation to the visual storytelling

 

3. Visual techniques.

The tracking shot in The Pleasure Garden is of the theatre audience enjoying the theatre scene. In the Lodger, shots of the faces of the people surrounding the woman who is telling them about the murderer. In the Ring, shots flit from one room to another and show the faces of the actors. In Downhill, the tracking shots are used to create suspense and anticipation again by showing the actors' faces. All 4 visual techniques show the reactions of the actors to the scenes they're in or around them.

 

Motifs The Ring, The Lodger and The Pleasure Garden have 2 physically separate scenes - The murder scene and the post murder scene in the Ring, The Lodger has 2 physically separate rooms and the Pleasure Garden has the stage and the audience. Downhill varies slightly in that it has one big room but the camera moves between 2 sets of people who are physically divided by space in the room. In the Lodger and The Ring there is no movement between the 2 separate scenes but in the Pleasure Garden one member of the audience goes backstage to ask the actress out and in Downhill there is movement of the actors from one part of the room to the other.

 

Themes: all show conflict either between men and women and/ or the men. In The Ring between the husband and wife; in the Lodger, the murderer and the woman who is being strangled. In the Pleasure Garden with the admirer and the actress backstage and finally in Downhill between the lady and the schoolboys.

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I believe that Hitchcock used the POV tracking shot not only for the dramtic feel of the shot but also for the facial expressions.  In some of the past shots that he has focused on you can't also see the facial expressions which can be so very important in a silent film.  You may not be able to hear all the words but with the different motifs/themes plus the facial expression you can get the whole story.  This is especially true with the females story of what happened.  You can't hear what she is saying but you can tell fro the overlay of the story shots and the facial expressions you get from being the POV shot that she wasn't happy at the outcome.  

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This scene is completely different from the scenes we've seen in "The Pleasure Garden" and "The Lodger." First, there is no sound. You are immediately forced to use your other senses to gain sense of what's going on the scene. You become alert of what's going on and you have to pay attention, which grabs the audience's attention. I think the dolly POV shots were brillant, putting you into the scene as always. You become part of the scene. You become a character trying to figure out what's going on. You feel like you are being interrogated and Hitchcock does just that. It creates fear and you can feel that tension as the dolly moves in particular directions. What also created more tension to the scene is that Hitchcock uses less dialogue cards. In The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger it was used a lot to tell you the story. In Downhill, you were forced to figure out the scene on your own.

 

While watching, I personally was looking at body language, facial expressions, etc figure what was actually going on. I think that's a sign of what we are use to in Hitchcock's known films. From what I can remember from the other films, there is a theme of suspense and stripping character development. What I guess I mean is that he shows characters in a vulnerable state. Of course, he had to throw a woman in the mix of his films. I think this scene shows the evolving mastermind we're all familiar with.

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I expected the POV tracking shots to be of greater duration for a more dramatic effect, though it does make the audience feel as if they are in the boys' shoes, and thus heighten the sense of fear and anxiety as the threat... either headmaster or the woman... becomes closer.  That would seem to be the reason for using it, and it can be quite effective.   

 

In both 'Downhill' and 'The Ring', the action seems to focus more on developing the drama and conflict within the main characters, whereas the clips from 'Pleasure Garder' and 'The Lodger' seemed to focus more on developing a story line.  

 

The sequences in all four films seemed quite different and I found it difficult to find any connections, apart from Hitchcock's desire to keep the audience in suspense and doubt by not revealing too much at the beginning.  

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1.  No question the moving or tracking POV shots in Downhill put me in the position of both characters especially because the shots are from each character’s POV.  In this scene of accusation, it not only drew me into the drama but also heightened, in this case, the dread and anger of the characters.  I agree with others who state that the moving POV is Hitchcock’s signature piece of camera work.  Think Scotty following Madeleine/Judy in Vertigo.

 

2.  Hitchcock uses the moving POV shot because it’s not static and is so effective at creating additional screen time to allow the character’s emotion to develop.  Additionally, it can serve as a number of shots without editing as, for example, the shot can start in a long shot, stay in a long shot as the character walks toward the camera and then allow the characters to walk into their own close-up by stopping the dolly.  Or, it is simply what a character sees from where they are standing/sitting/walking, etc.  The viewer becomes the character.

 

3.  Thematically, there is an accusation and or “wronged man” story that we see in The Lodger.  There is sexual desire or the result of sexual desire that we see in The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger, The Ring and Downhill.  There is the use of double exposure in both Downhill and The Ring.  There is a shot of the woman and the two students seen from behind the students.  She stands directly before them.  We cut to a two shot of the students and the woman is not in the shot, although where she’s standing in the previous shot suggests she should be.  It reminds me of Cary Grant’s hands when they embrace Eva Marie Saint when she is against the wall of the train berth in North By Northwest.  The literal impossibility of the shot is tossed aside in favor of a different or more desired composition.

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1. The POV shots cause a feeling of anxiety for the viewers. As the viewer looks upon Mabel as she seems to float toward the two boys (and us), it is evident that something important is on the horizon and a feeling of uncertainty weighs upon us and creates tension in us, much like the boys in the scene.

 

2. Hitch uses this technique to create suspense in viewers by making us feel as if we are a character within the scene. It places the viewer in the story, instead of simply being an idle bystander in someone else's tale. 

 

3. Perhaps, the most obvious visual connection is that of the record player and dancing which ties this film and Roddy's actions with the debauchery of the dance sequence in The Ring. Furthermore, both sets of visuals are provided in the similar fashion of montage. The themes of the magnitude of errors and their impact on a life, as that of the wrongfully accused are present here in Hitch's early films for the first of many times. 

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1. The effect of both the POV and the POV dolly shots is to intensify the gravity of the situation for the boys. While the static POV shots drive home the point the intensity of emotions of both the headmaster and the girl, the POV dolly shot gives me the feeling that the girl, as she approaches is stalking the boys, like a lioness homing in on her prey.

 

Without these techniques, the viewer watches the scene as nothing more than an observer. With the techniques, we are very much more personally affected, feeling the anger in both girl and headmaster. 

 

2. See #1. To intensify the anxiety of the scene.

 

3. All three films use creative camera work and editing to amplify the emotions of the scenes. The use of montage, though, in this scene might show us what's going on in the girl's mind as she falsely accuses Roddy, but not in any way similarly. In this scene, the girl is re-telling her story, but the male character is headless, unidentifiable. In The Ring, the montage sequence is clearly designed to emphasize ol' One Round's losing his grip in a fit of jealousy. 

 

Similarities: Intensifies situations. Difference: one reveals emotional distress the other reveals a thinking mind recounting just enough of the truth to mask her lie. Until, of course, she mentions the wealth of Roddy's father.

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Daily Dose #4: Depends on Your Point of View 

Scene from Hitchcock's Downhill (1927)

 

1. In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV

dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene? 

 

While viewing the film I felt like I was moving along with the two mates who were entering the office in the POV tracking shot. And the headmaster appeared to be moving up to me. The POV dolly shot created a moment of fear as the young lady approached the two men. As she seemed to move closer, I felt that she was going to slap one of them.

 

2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV

tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling? 

 

I think that Hitchcock used the technique of a POV tracking shot because he is shooting an action shot where the men are moving. He used that technique to follow the men who would otherwise leave the frame.

 

What it added to his visual story is suspense.

 

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. 

 

Connections (visual techniques, images, motifs, themes) that I noticed between films that came before like (The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger) and a film that came after it- (The Ring ) were dancing and joyous laughter, fun themes and images in the Garden and the Lodger. The pictures appeared to also have a very dark lightning especially the Lodger when film was taken in the street. The themes were also dark in nature when murder, robbery and scamming became its themes.

As for The Ring, however, it seemed to have better visual techniques such as lighting and POV, clearer panning and the theme was more serious. It portrayed a serious social issue of couples who get trapped in ironic situations. The technology seemed to have improved a bit when rolling cameras were included to bring the characters up closer to the audience.

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1.  In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene?


 


There is a sense of anticipation from the two young men as to why they were called to the Headmaster's Office. Once they discover why they are there, they demonstrate a sense of folly--before the accusation comes. There is a change in POV shot when the camera follows the woman as she approaches the two men. My feeling her is her power over the fate of these two--or at least one of them.


 


2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling?


 


POV tracking seems to tell us exactly who's head we should be in to interpret the viewer's visceral response. There is added tension as well as a great change of pace in switching POV.


 


3.  What connections (visual techniques, images, motifs, themes) do you notice between films that came before this (The Pleasure GardenThe Lodger) and a film that came after it (The Ring)? Please cite specific examples. 


 


Being black and white, the use of contrast of light and dark tones. Superimposed images in the montage of her description of the assault pair nicely with The Lodger and the Ring. Dramatic close-ups is also a pervasive Hitch signature.


 

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The use of POV dolly shots in this film gives the viewer a sense of being inside the boys heads as they enter the headmasters office. It gives the scene a feeling of uneasy and intense as the two young men inch closer and closer to the stern headmaster. Hitchcock used this technique to great effect helping the viewer to focus on who's perspective we should be seeing the film through. Its very similar to the ring in that it plays with perspective when we get the POV of the young woman which is much more chaotic and scattered due to what has happened to her and we see in the ring when you have the chaotic party as seen through the eyes of the boxer.

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1. In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene? 

 

The first shot conveys the boys' feeling of dread and fear in meeting with the very stern-looking head master. The second shot conveys a sense of anticipation as we wonder which boy she will pick.

 

2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling? 

 

POV tracking shots make the audience look at the scene through the character's eyes. We feel what the character is feeling. I think that's one of the things that made Hitchcock great: he was always aware of what the audience was feeling.

 

3. What connections (visual techniques, images, motifs, themes) do you notice between films that came before this (The Pleasure GardenThe Lodger) and a film that came after it (The Ring)? Please cite specific examples. 

 

 The theme that I noticed in all those films was that of the underdog winning in the end. In The Pleasure Garden, the dancer who wasn't the star of the show eventually got the right man. In The Lodger, the mysterious and misunderstood boarder was exonerated in the end. In The Ring, the up and coming boxer wins the fight against the boxer who holds the title and wins back his wife's heart.

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I love this kind of style in films because it has an amazing effect on the viewer to wear for a while the eyes of the protagonist. You feel the thrill, the agony, it is like you experiencing those facts.

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1. In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene?

A.) Viewing the POV dolly shots gives an effect that the audience are among the two boys who were called at the Principal's office for a serious matter. Only turns out that a woman was at the office with a false accusation against the accused boy among them.

 

2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling?

A.) The POV tracking shot is done in a brilliant way. This POV shot gives us the perspectives of both the woman as well as the so-called accused boy. It is interesting to know that one could make out the real accused one by the facial expressions and Tim (Robin Irvine) was the real accused. He came along with his friend Roddy (Ivor Novello) and he was shocked to see the woman with whom he had the affair. Unfortunately, Roddy was accused by the woman's claim and he was on the verge to be expelled from the school. We also come to know that Roddy was innocent after all.

 

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.

A.) Among this film, all the three films had unique camera techniques and most of the scenes from these films used the montage technique which was superficial at that time. Most of all, all these films had happy endings. In other words, Wrong would eventually become Right at the end.

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1. In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene? 


These particular scenes certainly give the audience a palpable touch of suspense.  The drawn out scenes stretch time as well as patience, something Hitchcock was the master at conveying.


2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling? 


This visual technique further demonstrates first person point-of-view, as well as the added apprehension to the given circumstance our characters are involved in.  It was also another addition to the list of Hitchcock's novel cinematic additions.


3. What connections (visual techniques, images, motifs, themes) do you notice between films that came before this (The Pleasure GardenThe Lodger) and a film that came after it (The Ring)? Please cite specific examples. 


-Blondes


-Visual artistry (fades, dolly shots, superimposition, surreal ideas, parallels)


-Time expansion/compression - usually ties into novel visual methods (speedy newspaper salesmen, the boxer's filling mind with surreal visions)


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