Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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The dolly shot has the effect of drawing the audience into a collective feeling of dread, like the world is coming down around us all as the maid slowly advances. With each step in our direction, the tension builds and we feel less in control. This is the perfect shot for this scene, because from the boys' perspective this woman has the power to destroy their life with a word. As the dolly moves, so does each second to the moment of truth, the resolution of anxious uncertainty.

 

The one theme that struck me while watching the clip was how Hitchcock used music and dance to portray sexuality and seduction. In ​The Pleasure Garden​ the dancing chorus line on the stage were the fantasies of leering men made flesh. In The Ring​ the party with its wild dancing and music was a stand in for the boxer's imagined nightmare of having his rival fall into bed with his wife. Here in Downhill​ intercuts of a record player and dancing are used as the maid recalls her moments of seduction with the student.

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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 really gave a sense of anticipation and urgency to me. Depending on the camera view, you either feel that you are one of the two male characters about to be accused, or you are the woman about to accuse.

 

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

 

It gives the viewer a sense of actively participating in the shot, and therefore helps to conjure the emotions the characters are feeling.

 

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.

 

Montages and closehups are common to these films. The montages fill in parts of the story that the audience didn't originally see. The close-ups helped to increase the emotions of the characters and allowed the audience to almost feel what the actors would be feeling.

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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? 

 

Slightly different than what’s stated by Raymond Strauss in Daily Dose #4, the 1st thing that comes to my mind when seeing a dolly shot is to trying to determine whether it’s done the classic way, a camera mounted on a platform traveling over tracks; or a steady cam is in use.

 

As to the 2nd part of the statement “reality seems skewed” depends more on the type of movie being viewed. Personally I can’t stand the “jump out at you” (ex. Alien) suspense type scene, which generally results in pure anxiety for myself. If the film is something like, say Lawerence of Arabia, a long dolly shot will create a mixture of being drawn into the story, and/or a contemplation of the what’s being shown on the screen as more a work of art; along the lines of viewing a painting.

 

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

 

In the case of Downhill, Hitchcock was emphasizing the seriousness of the moment, while drawing in the curiosity of the audience. We know something is coming, but we have to wait. 

 

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.

 

Haven’t rewatched The Lodger yet so memory is failing me there. There is the motif of the “wrong man being accused.” In the Lodger the main character is suspected of being Jack the ripper. In Downhill he’s accused falsely of making a woman pregnant.

 

With regards to The Pleasure Garden:

using a spinning phonograph record super imposed in a closeup over the head of face of the one of characters

super imposing changing actions to indicate a flashback

title/ narrative cards

vignetting focusing the audiences attention

at the end of the montage, the main character accepts his view  of the situation as not being reality, and that it has placed him in an awkward position. In The Pleasure Garden he apologizes for his outburst after imaging his wife kissing another man. In Downhill he contemplates that his rejection of the woman’s accusation is not being accepted by the dean.

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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 where the boys are walking towards the headmaster looks like an impending doom shot.  You know something's going to happen.The second shot where the waitress is walking toward the boys reminds me a bit of an my cat when she's stalking something. Slow deliberate movement towards the boys then sudden, quick jab at the accused. Very suspenseful.

 

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

 

It adds suspense and keeps us off balance a little bit.

 

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. 

Okay,so I know it's a bit superficial but has anyone else noticed all the women have the same hairstyle. I know it was the style of the day. I just thought I's throw that out there. Sex is very clearly a theme here in all three movies. The leering men in The Pleasure Garden, The boxer's wife and her flirtation and a pregnant waitress.

 

 

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The POV is like i am the person, and like i am in the room. I loose control over the scene, and have just the information or view of the person, who i am for this while. So it makes it more interesting, what happens next. 

It gives the scene an extra level. Not just watching, but feeling the story. 

 

I just know the clips from the course, not the films. A connection i ´ve seen is the montage, when she tells what -in her story- has happened. And the great expressions on the faces. the reactions between the persons, for example, when Roddy sees Mabel the first time, or when he looks for help from Tim, when they where alone in the room and Tim just looks another way. 

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The POV dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene are quite striking.  First, as the Roddy and Tim enter, the headmaster's enormous office and see the stern look on the man's face, the tracking shot conveys a sense of foreboding.  The shot also communicates the differences in power, almost as if a subject is approaching a king on a throne.  The other POV tracking shot, of Mabel slowly approaching Ivan and Robin, communicates Roddy's and Tim's fear and Mabel's empowerment (through the headmaster's acceptance of her deceit) to hurt Roddy or Tim.  

 

Hitchcock's decision to use these tracking shots (as opposed to a more static perspective) draws the audience into the emotional impact of the situation on the characters.  With a medium or long static shot, the audience could have inferred what was going on, but it would taken longer and would probably not have had the same impact.

The motif at the end of the scene is reminiscent of the motif in The Ring.

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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? 

Very menacing. You can sense the fear in the room. #Hitchcock50

2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling? It heightens the suspense and adds to the visual cues from the actors. #Hitchcock50

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. I've noticed that you can tell when emotion is meant to be amplified in the scene, like when the girl gets her purse picked in TPG, or the guy is mad about his wife's conduct in TR

 

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1. You feel as though the walls are closing in on you, that something is happening you are powerless to stop. There is also a sense of judgement--as if the camera is an accusatory pointing finger. The motion of the tracking shot also sets up a dichotomy--as the viewer you feel it brings an understanding of what the two men are feeling (it literally moves you towards a greater physical intimacy with them) while simultaneously taking on the POV of the "accuser". The latter is reinforced by the woman's POV tracking shot which moves her towards the two men whose backs are facing the camera.

 

2. To heighten our emotional identification with the characters and with the story. It sets up the tension and sense of dread in the possibility of the two men being expelled and possibly wrongly accused. It also establishes the authority of the school master and of the accusing woman--their POV is the active one. This also adds to the feeling of powerlessness on behalf of the two men.

 

3. My guess would be technical experimentation ties them all together, with the goal of creating an emotional connection and an awareness of "seeing" on behalf of the viewer. The Pleasure Garden let us "see" the older man leer at the female dancer with POV close-up shots of the dancer seemingly through binoculars, a monocle, and the blurriness of the naked eye; The Lodger used montage of the process of "witnessing murder" from various points of view; The Ring introduced the subjective montage bringing superimposition and elongation of the image to draw us into a character's mind; and Downhill incorporated the dolly tracking POV shots.

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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? 

 

I kind of felt like I was in the film myself. 

 

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

 

I think the POV tracking gives the viewer a better sense of how a particular character is acting or feeling when being talked to or approached by another character. It gives the viewer the feeling as if they are in the film themselves. The shot also seems to add a feeling suspense since you are unable to see the emotions of the person behind 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. 

 

This one is really hard for me. But maybe something like the usage of a montage. It helps the viewer notice parts of the story that they may not have noticed before or just needed to see again. Maybe also the feelings of false accusations, like the man in The Ring thinking of his wife having an affair or The Lodger of the man thought to be Jack the Ripper. 

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1.  The POV shots used in the scene give the viewer a sense of being uncomfortable and adds tension.

 

2.  By using POV shots, it adds  suspense and uneasiness felt by the characters in the scene.

 

3.  I noticed that both Downhill, The Pleasure Garden and The Ring show use of somewhat of a party scene (dancing, records playing).  Also, all of the clips shown so far seem to have a tinge of underlying sexual tension.

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Daily Dose #4 - Downhill

 

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

 The Point Of View  (POV for the non-filmmaker) shots are supposed to place the viewer inside the character heads and see what the character sees.  We have complimentary tracking/dolly shots in this scene, the POV of the two pupils walking towards the Headmaster, and the POV of the Headmaster as the pupils walk towards him.  This is fine, but then there is a jump cut to a medium close-up (MCU) framing of the Headmaster that I found jarring.  It's a jump cut because the Headmaster is framed at a different angle from the one preceding it.  This could have been fixed by showing the pupils THEN the cut to the headmaster, not Headmaster in dolly/Headmaster different shot.  Early days.  The complimentary POV shot is repeated with the girl walking towards the pupils, with a nice selective focus happening while the girl is walking.

 

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

 

     The technique is to place the viewers inside the character's mind, let them see what the character is seeing, making it more personal for the viewer, draw them into the story.  It is a technique Hitch uses very well over his career (think of the death of Detective Arbogast in Psycho - it's basically a POV shot from the killer.).

 

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. 

 

Theme wise, I would say an innocent being accused of something (the Lodger in that film, the wife, in the ring, and one of the pupils in Downhill), and the use of editing and camera techniques to convey emotions or to draw the viewers into the story.  

 

- Walter

 

p.s. this might just be me, but when the girl first talks I would have liked to see a close-up there, as Hitchcock cuts to a close up when the Headmaster is next to her.

 

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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 tracking shot from the character's point of view puts the audience in the character's place. The reverse, where we are seeing the characters in their place in the frame while everything else retreats, is a little unnerving. The background is retreating and it puts the audience a little on edge. 

 

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

 

Hitchcock needs us, the audience, to empathize with the hero. This technique puts us in their place.

 

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 biggest thing I am seeing between all the clips is the claustrophobic framing. The widest shot of all is the headmaster's office, where the distance is intimidating. Master shots cut people off in the framing. Shots are two to three people. The views of the champ and the fighter's wife are extremely tight and claustrophobic. Intertitles are sparse and Hitchcock always shows instead of telling.

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You feel uncomfortable and tense, as a viewer. By Hitchcock using the POV tracking shot, it gives that feeling of restlessness and suspense of the characters in the scenes. All of the four movie clips had a sexual tension scene and an innocent character accused of something, like a murder.

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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 creeping suspense of not knowing what is happening in the scene is what the POV adds to this. Since we don't have sound to inform us, we only have the images and the POV shot makes these images more intense with a creeping style. We move with the two boys towards the headmaster and his disapproving stare. Their slow approach to him leads us to the impression that this will not end well. It is a genius scene! 


 


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1) I agree with others, between the two pov shots you switch back and forth between the fear and nervous anticipation of being accused and the smug arrogance of the accuser

2) He uses it to build tension by putting the viewer in the position of the subject, with the fear etc that they are experiencing. By doing that the viewer has a more personal and vested interest in the story

3) The montages. The succession of clips to quickly tell the background story.  

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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? I'm truly amazed that even without sound Hitch does an amazing job of showing character's feelings.  The pans from the two students anticipation, anxiety and fear and the headmaster's smug stuck up arrogance is demonstrated well.  The pans to the girl show her manipulation of the situation.  The slow tracking techniques build suspense and help the audience to feel the character's feelings.  The use of tracking puts the audience in the character's place. It builds storyline, suspense and emotional connection with the characters. 


2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling?  Since there is no sound Hitch relies on his mastery of cinematography to convey the emotions of the characters and further the plot.  The dolly shots is a great technique employed to convey this. 


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.  Like the Ring Hitch, uses superimposed montage to recall the girl in Downhill's recollection of events (as false as they are).  We see extreme close ups used in all the early movies, panning, use of shadow and light. to build suspense. (The montage clips basically are used to tell the back story).   All movies have the underlying sexual tension.  Notice again the close up of the girls leg, like in The Pleasure Garden.  There is the the theme again of "false-accusation.. and by using a well known actor who is falsely accused allows for resolution that makes the audience happy.  (Like Hitch says..  it is hard to see a famous actor as a villian.. esp a matinee idol. 


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1. I feel that the POV shot gets the audience to feel the drama of the character /charaters.

 

2.  It adds more to the dramatization of the film and makes it more suspenceful.

 

 

3.  Pkeasure gatden had a more relaxed theme to it where the ladies were in a chorus line. The Lodger had a  mysterious border theme eo it whereas The Ring had a lover cheating theme to it.

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I love the dolly shot in this clip. It helped build suspense and puts us in a character's "shoes". I felt like I was being called into the principal's office.

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I love the dolly shot in this clip. It helped build suspense and puts us in a character's "shoes". I felt like I was being called into the principal's office.

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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 shots add to the internal suspense. You see what the character is seeing and how they view the situation. When you are taken out of that you feel as if you are seeing the situation in its true nature. It's a great way to add to the layers of situations. You add to the subtext as well. 

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

I almost get a sense of claustrophobia with the tracking shot. Like I am being closed in on. The situation is a uncomfortable one and you get that in the camera work and direction. I believe that is his reason for using. To make us more uncomfortable as an audience. 

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 visual techniques when the girl is telling the story are very similar to The Ring. 

 

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The use of the POV shots can determine the focus of the story both emotionally and on the characters.  The tension building while walking across the room, seeing the headmaster's stern look, the girls' body language.  The looks on the boys faces showing the confusion, uncertainty and wariness for what is about to happen to them. Their realization when they see the girl.

The close-up is used often to convey the emotional moment in all these films.  Usually the look of shock and total surprise by the character. 

 

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The shot of the 2 boys staring at the headmaster from afar and slowly getting closer makes one feel their anxiety of the unknown.

POV shots draw you into the scene

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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 were designed to put one into the character's mindset. As the dolly moves to and fro, we see what the character saw. It is through the lens of the character on these POV shot that Hitch put us, the audience, into the hearts and minds of those two boys as they are about to know what their future lies.

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

It added suspense to the storytelling and it gives the audience a sense of anxiety just as the characters are feeling at that precise moment. Hitch has a rare gift as a director who can draw his audience into the lives of his characters and they become a participant in the mayhem. The brilliance of Hitchcock.

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 striking connection in all three films are the shot of the women's legs. Once hidden in the Victorian Era as a symbol of seduction; Hitch used those shots as a metaphor for wanton sex and tensions. The tight close-up of the girl, The Lodger and Downhill, it tells a story of its own.

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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? 

 

I found my heart began pounding during the tracking shots. I felt it foreshadowed an impending doom. More about this in Question 2. 

 

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

 

I only saw three tracking shots: one on the headmaster, one on the boys and the third on the girl as she crosses to the boys and back again to the boys. Other than panning (which does no require a track) it appears the camera is stationary.

The first two tracking shots, are edited together and show us the the boys  and the headmaster’s. When we track the two boys, we are put inside their heads. This tracking allows the boys and the audience to feel and see the headmaster growing more intimidating. tWhen we track the two boys, we see their differing expressions, dread and anticipation, guilt and fear, on their faces. While we observe how the boys are feeling as they approach him, I doubt  the headmaster sees it.

As the waitress is tracked, the room behind her makes us feel dizzy. To me it feels unbalanced, as she must feel knowing she is about to tell a huge lie. It felt like a precursor of the unbalance in Vertigo's clock tower staircase when James Stewart looks down. Though the outcomes of both are totally different.

 

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. 

 

Though the motivation may vary, not so the themes. The party atmosphere is felt  inside The Pleasure Garden and  quite obviously in The Rope. Hitch uses the extra closeup while Mable lies and the scream as the opening of The Lodger. The superimposed images we see here explains Mable’s story and will be used in The Ring to foreshadow how and why Jack is going to punch Bob in his noggin. These images help him win because of the mandatory happy ending.

 

The brief shots of a spinning record in this film suggests she is spinning a yarn, will also be used in The Ring this time to represent part of the spin Jack is putting on the party. The innocent, are used here as in a lot of his films, must allow other characters in the film to think they are guilty (except the heroins). But in The Lodger, we are led to believe the innocent is guilty once again, except for the love interest. The Pleasure Garden has two women vilenesses…for a while... Women are one of Hitchcock’s essential undercurrents in almost all of his films by providing the sexual tension. Of course the protagonist always wins to insure a happy ending. You cannot have a star fail at a film's end. 

 

SPOILER ALERT

 

 

 

 

 

There is a lot of experimentation camera angles (the upside-down shot)  and the high ceiling sets to show wealth here.  Hitch explores new lighting techniques (e.g., when he lights the “good” characters riding in a car and leaves “Boxer Bob” unlit in the dark). Yes. He’s back as a bad guy! And takes a punch here too.)

 

 

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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? 

 

​I felt like I was being drawn into a care-free environment even though I knew what was coming down the tracks!  I really projected my stuff into the characters.  That shock when you realize you have just crossed the line of a major milestone in your life and it isn't good.  Somehow you know this is a whole new world even though you are too young to really understand.  Then this student, I believe, it working through the shock and acceptance.  Once again, the wrong man - the theme in movies like "The Wrong Man" and "North by Northwest."  So the use of the POV shots really pushed me into the character's world.  

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

It heightens and compresses time and puts the audience into the character's world.  I think it adds to the visual storytelling by focusing the energy into and towards the characters.

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.

There is a theme of people being at an entertainment venue- The Pleasure Garden (theatrical stage), and the fairgrounds and boxing (The Ring).  The theme of sexuality - dancing girls in The Pleasure Garden, the brother of the dead girl in The Lodger and having to take down the pictures in his room of the racy women, and the one woman and the two men fighting over her in The Ring.  The montage sequences especially in The Pleasure Garden and The Ring with the women dancing and the party in the latter movie.  Blonde women in the first two movies.  

The theme of honor is in all three.  Patsy in The Pleasure Garden, the brother of the dead woman in The Lodger and Jack in The Ring.  

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