Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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In this Dose, we have yet another key moment in Hitchcock's stylistic evolution: the use of the POV tracking shot. 

 

Watch today's clip from Downhill in Canvas, and then respond to these questions:

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

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

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. 

 

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Hitchcock’s taste for point-of-view sequences reveals itself on reflection to be based on a broader interest in a visual exploration of the film universe. The word “visual” in its broad meaning is of course worthless here, since in some sense it is rather difficult for a filmmaker not to visually explore the film universe. What Hitchcock wishes to evoke is the sense of a pair of eyes within the film universe, in some way subject to the laws of the film universe as opposed to the laws of the film.

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1) The POV shots are both engaging and unsettling. It is as if I am being transported, rolled along.
2) The subjectivity and the breakdown of audience barriers: In effect Hitchcock does not break the so-called fourth wall--he forces the viewer to cross into the screen images. Point is, these shots engage the viewer strongly, which is a natural goal for any filmmaker.
3) Guilt and innocence; the subjective roles of jealousy and anger; Legs--lots of flesh showing (for the 1920s) in The Pleasure Garden and the woman in the Downhill scene. Also, the schoolmaster's sternness is enhanced by his stiff collar and coat, much as one imagines the killer in The Lodger might look with his scarf off. So clothing becomes almost a character in these clips.
 

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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 effect the POV made on me was get engage with the scene. Like If i was the one living that moment the boys are entering  the office.
 
 
2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling?
 ​Hitchcock uses POV so that the audience can engage and feel the emotion of the actor, he wants the audience to experience what the character is going thru at the moment.
 

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.
 
All of Hitchcock films go into detail but he also adds emotion as well as POV shots.  His visual technique is German expressionism .
The Pleasure Garden- the chorus girls dancing while the men see them all as eye candy drooling over them.
THe Lodger- The opening scene with the women being murdered. Also when the lodger is pacing up in down his room.
The Ring- When the Boxer is enraged with jealousy whe he see's is wife sitting in some other gentlemen lap.
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The POV scene is very effective in getting Hitchcock's view across. (Interesting when the door opens the room is normal size, then when the boys step in the length of the room must be close to 40 feet to get to the desk). I can recall in the late 1960's no one wanted to be called to the assistant-principal who handed out punishment. I can understand that POV Hitchcock wanted to get across, the power of that person over you immediate and future life. Even if he just approached you to be a hall monitor, you had butterflies in your stomach. Imagine my surprise when I returned four years later to substitute in that school. The courts had take that power away from the school and the principals and assistants. Students even going by his doorway in the hall and if door open, shouting in nasty things to him.

 

In the 1920's that power held by the Headmaster was even greater, especially in a European/English private (English Public) school. Even though Navarro (Roddy) has not done anything wrong that feeling is there. It is a long hard walk to the headmaster's desk, but his attitude and straight body show you he has done nothing wrong. For Irvine (Tim) it is a longer walk, each time the shot comes back to him he is making himself smaller, more hunched over. Knowing he is in the wrong here, even in how each boy looks at Benson (Mabel) when she drops her purse. It always surprises me how little we really see and use body language in our interactions, despite all we have been told about it. Mostly seems only to be used in the interview process for hiring, not for this one. If the headmaster could read body language as we the audience can, he would now Benson is lying, but he can't.

 

The montage over Benson's mean almost evil face, seems to be about money and opportunity, though we are not clear that it is Navarro she is thinking of, except for the one pound key that comes up on the cash register. Then we hear it clearly when Benson says “His father's rolling in money--...) on the cue card. Though a silent film, we do “hear” it. I do not find this montage as powerful as the one in The Ring. There is something in that montage missing that would tie Navarro to Benson, for me.

 

We can see from this scene that the Downhill of this film has nothing to do with skiing.

 

Now the suspense is created for us, the problem is there. Navarro our “star” can not be “stuck” in this relationship. His star power won't allow, how will Hitchcock get him out of it, so he can get back on top and win the love of his life, who is not Mabel.  

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It will be fun the watch the progression of the "star" aspect of the course.  Hitchcock often blamed stars for forcing his films to go the way they went, because they had to come out all right in the end.  This can be seen in The Lodger where Navarro's character in the end wins the girl and is set free.  The 1944 remake by John Brahm with George Sanders as the policeman and Laird Cregar as the lodger (losing weight for the part led to his death in 1931).  In 1944 Cregar is the killer, and in the end is killed.  


 


It holds nowhere near the suspense of Hitchcock's.   Also, The Man Who Knew Too Much had to be changed from it's 1934 version by Hitchcock to accommodate a "star" Jimmy Stewart in 1956, because he needed more screen time and a more active roll than in 1934.  


 


Hitchcock's dislike of "method" actors is an area we will hopefully get into, like Montgomery Clift in I Confess.  I am really looking forward to this section of our weekly lectures/daily doses.


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1. and 2. Watching Hitchcock switch his POV shot from that of the boys to the accusing lady creates suspense and intensity by involving the viewer in the situation. Although this early clip looks choppy and rough, Hitchcock has perfected the POV technique by, for instance, the 1946 film "Notorious."

 

A couple of decades after the "Downhill" clip, Hitchcock figured out how to seamlessly switch between Claude Rains' and Cary Grant/Ingrid Bergman's points of view outside the wine cellar as the two Nazi hunters are about to be caught by her husband in a clinch. In switching points of view the anxiety created in the viewer is almost unbearable. Again, this is because the director has involved the viewer in the situation unfolding on the screen.

 

3. As Hitchcock's filmmaking career progresses he is not wedded to a single POV. For example in the opening sequence of "The Lodger," we only have the blonde's POV of her murderer. Today's clip shows the different POV of the two boys, the accuser and the headmaster, with Hitchcock not dedicated to only one individual's POV. In his most obvious POV film, "Rear Window," where Jimmy Stewart's POV could be paramount, Hitchcock easily switches points of view among, Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and no one in particular. By the time Hitchcock becomes the master of suspense he is creating tension in the viewer no matter whose POV the audience is experiencing.

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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? In this POV shot, you are the girl. You feel the boys tension in waiting for her ro reveal the boy she is accusing. However, the boy that is actually guilty does show more signs of guilt than the other.

 

2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling? The POV shot is great hear for it keeps the audience still guessing as to who might be the guilty party.

 

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. Close up shots are in all but in comparing all four, the shots keep getting closer with each movie.

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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 shots transports the viewer into the scene. Without dialogue or even music it builds suspense (especially that long walk to towards the desk).

 

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

 

Conveys the individual feelings of each character and creates specific moods.

 

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

 

The montage scene is quite similar to the shot with the instruments from The Ring. Different point being expressed, yet same technique.

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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? 

 

Each dolly shot heightens the anticipation for the audience.  Something is about to happen, but what?  The scene where the two boys approach the older man, the viewer believes there is about to be some sort of confrontation.  When the girl approaches the two boys, the viewer believes there is going to be another confrontation.

 

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

 

As mentioned above, the POV shot heightens the tension visually without the benefit of words.  As Hitchcock alluded to in today’s video, it’s better to show someone cry instead of having them say “I’m sad.”  As the character approach each other with the POV dolly/tracking shot, the scene is speaking volumes without the use of words.

 

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. 

 

First, I noticed that Hitchcock likes to use close-ups, allow the face to express various emotions.  Next, I noticed the framing and composition of shots, using doorways, mirrors, and even people to isolate parts of the scene that are important to the story.  

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1. Tracking shot, 2 boys entering room after being called in, give the viewer a sense of dread. They are not sure about their reason for being there but they know it is not good.

2. Hitchcock uses this technique to bring the viewer along with the characters to what is about to befall them. You feel like you are being lead to the principal's office. Nobody wants to be there because usually nothing good comes of it....

3. The visual technique used brings with it a sense of dread like the boxer watching the party in The Ring. He is not sure what is going to happen but is aware that whatever occurs it will not be good for him. 

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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? 

When the POV tracking shots are used to get the girl closer to the boys, this builds tension and suspense. It allows the audience to walk closer with the female but at the same time allows the audience the view of the boys reaction to it. 

 

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

It not only adds the suspense Hitchcock is know for in his movies but gives the audience the two sides to the story without have to flash back or do the scene over.  By seeing the current scene in both POV, the audience isn't missing out.  The tracking shot does this easily and doesn't pull the audience out of the movie.

 

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. 

Hitchcock used the vignette with the black edges on the film in The Pleasure Garden and he used it in this one.  He also has the female as a victim in this scene though as I have not watched the whole movie, I could not say she is truly a victim. In the Ring, Hitchcock uses double exposure to show a daydream inside the husband's mind while in Downhill, he uses it to show a flashback. 

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Daily Dose #4.

 

This clip is yet another great example of Hichcock's main goal of maximizing the audiences experience during the film.  Changing the depth of field in the room as the boys approach the headmaster heightens the anxiety of the observer so that they are no longer the observer and actually in the moment.

 

As personal space shrinks, the anxiety increases which is also reflected in the faces of the actors; things can only go "downhill" from here.

 

The intense close up of the accuser emphasizes the feeling one might have when being falsely accused.  The greater the lie the more intensity in the shot.  The montage here may reflect actual events though accusing the wrong man for financial gain.  She is really in a tight spot if she is pregnant but we still empathize with the "boy"  as he becomes the victim falsely accused. 

 

In The Pleasure Garden we see the girls through the eyes of the men, and the men through the eyes of the girls through the maserful work of the camera and the actors.  In the Lodger, we feel as we are riding along in the vehicles; the use of light and shadow, the frenetic pace, the crowds enhances our anxiety as it would if we were really walking the streets of London late at night with a killer running loose.  The glass ceiling allowing us to see the frantic pacing of the Lodger.  In the Ring the use of montage offers us  us a 2nd or 3rd dimension insight into the mind of the boxer, his jealousy, anxiety and motivation. I am enjoying these silent films, I was not expecting this would be the case.  Imagine making such compelling films without the use of modern technology.  I have a much greater respect for the art of filmaking and the talent of Alfred Hitchcock.  Looking forward to the next few weeks.

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This film was released in an era of the static camera; placement was typically at eye level, with little movement, and visual storytelling was limited to wide, medium, and close-up shots. What Hitchcock does with the POV tracking shots (especially when we see Mabel approaching the boys) is more than a close-up of her face - expressing her determination to allege one of the boys - but also creates suspense as the viewer is part of the action as she approaches the boys. We feel as if we are the boys, and are accused ourselves. The suspense created with this shot reminds me of the famous shot from Jaws where we see Chief Brody on the beach, reacting to what he believes is a shark in the water (the camera tracks backwards while zooming in on his face - a technique replicated many times in films thereafter).

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1) The POV dolly tracking shots in this scene from Downhill are almost predatory. I can imagine this playing out in a matter of different scenarios or interpretations especially in regards to the gender dynamics of this scene. The woman is advancing on her prey which in this case is the two men. The two men can do nothing but stand and await their fate as she advances. I mentioned predatory because of the sheer volume of the accusation and what the consequences can play out to be. The situation is not pretty in the slightest, and can impact the boys life dramatically. I loved that it was reversed from typical societal/cinematic terms of today. What I mean by this is in today's cinema it would most likely be the woman being the prey of a man, etc.

 

2) By using the POV dolly tracking shots Hitchcock is escalating the tenseness of the situation. The accusation wouldn't have the same firecracker quality if the woman remained seated in her chair and just pointed at the boy. By having her step forward in a predatory position, a position of infinite power it made the two strong young men look weak in comparison. Truly well done, and the factor that the picture is silent even without music accompaniment in my opinion only made the scene that much stronger and more intense. It upped the drama without any violence, dialogue, or normal angles/shots.

 

3) Throughout the clips of The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger, The Ring, and now Downhill I can only say that Hitchcock continues to improve his work with each picture. Take The Pleasure Garden for instance which the opening had a lot of people, a spectacle on stage, etc. But then escalating the stakes even further with The Lodger by having the girl with the golden curls scream envelop the screen and your imagination runs wild with the vividness of the beautifully shot scene, and then the audience has moved to more of a crowd of worried bystanders compared to an actual audience. The Ring is taken another step further by cutting out the reality and incorporating the what if? I love the overlap of the scenes, and the boxer imagining the worse situation possible playing out--infidelity. The party was tamer than the scope of the previous two films, and then taking into consideration that the boxer is alone in a room besides his manager: lowering the stakes, increasing the space for imagination blurring the lines of reality. And wrapping it up with Downhill which is a dramatic intense scene playing out with four people that gestures and expressions only speak louder than any words could've even came close when it was filmed.  

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Morning all!

 

Today's clip from Downhill is an example of Hitchcock's use of POV tracking shots to heighten the anxiety of a moment. When the two boys stand in the headmaster's office, we have the feeling that they are surrounded, partially because the accusing girl is seated behind them with the headmaster before them. As we watch the confrontation, Hitchcock deliberately uses a slow, smooth moving camera to put us in the boys' perspective. The first time the technique is used, it is when the boys are first confronted by the headmaster. The camera brings us closer to the boys' faces, creating the feeling of no escape. In the same way, when the girl is asked to point out which one of them she is accusing, the POV tracking shot is used to make us feel that Ivor Novello's character is trapped by the inevitable as the camera hones in on him.

I noticed that in one shot, the camera is placed behind the boys' backs at the headmaster's desk. This adds to the feeling of them being surrounded as they sheepishly turn their heads towards the camera.

When I watched the clip, I couldn't help but think of yesterday's scene from The Ring. Although the scenarios of the two films are very different, similar feelings of isolation and anxiety permeate both clips. In the scene from The Ring, the boxer's feelings of helplessness about his wife's affair with another man are accentuated by his being seated in an adjacent room and watching the couple through a mirror. In this way, he couple is distanced from the boxer, suggesting that they are out of reach. His anxieties about leaving his wife while he embarks on a training are emphasized by the wild dancing and exuberance of the next room, in contrast to the stillness of his. The superimposition of images and the montage effects help us to feel his increasing nervousness. In the same way, in today's clip from Downhill, the boys' escalating anxiety is expressed through the use of POV tracking shots.

I think that this observation points to Hitchcock's evolution as a filmmaker interested in the themes of anxiety and psychological torment. These emotions would continue to appear with increasing frequency in his later films.

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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 continuity of the dolly/tracking shots adds much more tension than the use of edits could have. For me, the POV dolly shot of the waitress advancing slowly toward the two students provided more tension than I needed to have this morning, ha ha. Tracking shots can be used for many types of scenes, but I think they are particularly effective for creating the feelings of tension and suspense. Orson Wells used a long tracking shot very effectively in 1958's "Touch of Evil," which shows hands putting a time bomb into a car and then follows the car into Tijuana, where it eventually meets the fate we anticipated for it.   


 


 


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


 


Tracking shots give a sense of fluidity and continuity, as opposed to a series of edits. By simulating how we see things in real life, tracking shots are much more effective than edits in drawing the viewer into the film, and in making the viewer feel he/she is actually there. My comment is not intended as a put-down of edits - both edits and tracking shots have made powerful contributions to the ways in which film can tell a story visually in ways that were never possible before.   


 


 


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. 


 


​I will come back to this in a subsequent post. My dog wants to take him outside right now for his daily POV tracking shot of Delray Beach, Florida.

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The POV tracking shots draw the audience into the movie, to become part of the story, to feel what the character is feeling.  The audience can feel the confusion & fear that the boys are feeling even before they have any idea of why the schoolmaster is obviously upset with them.  

 

You can feel Mabel's anger when she looks at the boys, & feel their fear as she walks towards them, to identify the "perpetrator".  From her point of view, she's been used before by men, but never been "caught".  Now that she's "copped it", she's decided to go for the boy who can do her the most good financially.

 

The montage when Mabel is reporting how it happened, over the reproachful face of the schoolmaster, reflects her own anger over her situation.  The montage in The Ring was more complex than this, but Mabel's story is very clearly communicated, even if not truly what occurred with the boy.

 

Can't wait to see this one on TCM 7/5 @ 9:45pm EST!

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The effect of watching the POV dolly/tracking shots keeps the audience focused on one or certain characters within the scene. In this case, the shot that was most impactful for me was focused on the young woman. In this film, Hitchcock uses the shot to create drama, which is especially meaning when knowing the backstory - that one of the young men is being accused of being the father of her unborn child. It was very suspenseful because no one, who watches the movie for the first time, knew who she was going to accuse. With the camera focusing on one or several characters for a prolonged period of time, it allows the audience to see development in the plot. 


The one similarity that I saw between the film clips we've looked at today is the montage editing. When the young woman recounts how she meets the man she accuses, it is through a montage of clips. I think especially in silent film, montage editing is a great way to cover a lot of information without dialogue.


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In watching this scene the dolly shot definitely pulls you in. You are watching a scene where the two 'boys' are brought in for questioning on a subject matter very controversial (back then). As the two 'boys' approach the Dean you see in the distance a 'girl' sitting looking very evil at the pair. Then the boom comes when you find out why we are here, as the 'girl' gets up to pick the 'boy' out there is suspense in the air. Cut to her, cut to them, back and forward...draws you into the scene.

 

I feel that Hitch uses the POV shot to get you (as the viewer) to feel more apart of the scene, meaning if it was shot at the angel of looking at the 'girl' approach the 'boys' you might not be as drawn to the scene as you are when you are looking at the 'boy' in a slow panning motion. To me it adds to his telling of this story. You ARE in the scene. You are the 'girl' walking up to the 'boys' & you are the 'boys

watching the 'girl' walking towards you. You are waiting for the shoe to drop as to who has committed this 'unspeakable' act. SUSPENSE!!!!! Hitchcock definitely knows how to get you involved in a scene. 

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1)   The effect, I felt, was quite unsettling. The POV shots made me feel like the headmaster was looking at me or that I was the one that Mabel was scrutinizing. I empathized with the feelings that Tim and Roddy were expressing because I felt like I was in their shoes!

 

2)   I think Hitchcock used the tracking shot to emphasize the unsettling and scared feelings that Tim and Roddy had, not knowing why the Headmaster wanted to see them. With this, it adds visual disgust that Mabel has and visual scrutiny that the Headmaster has, without any of it being verbal. I feel that this is a good example of Hitch’s fancy with non-verbal gestures and conversations.

 

3)  Some specific connection between the films that I noticed:

 

a.       All of the films used close-up shots of a specific or all actors

 

b.      The Pleasure Garden and Downhill both used tracking shots; The Pleasure Garden being the binocular view of the dancers and Downhill being of Tim and Roddy entering the office

 

c.       All of the films used limited intertitles, which helped with Hitch’s “Visual Storytelling”

 

d.      The Ring and Downhill both used montage

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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? 


For me, the effect of watching these shots is it heightens my emotions and the suspense I feel during the scene. I feel like I am a part of the story, rather than just observing it. 


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


I think Hitchcock uses the technique of the POV tracking shot because it makes his visual storytelling more suspenseful. It definitely heightens the tension for the viewer. 


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.


You can tell that these films are made by the same director. There are a lot of close up shots showing emotions of the characters. He uses visual techniques to mimic the feelings and thoughts of the characters. For example, in "The Ring" shots become shorter and more frenzied, mimicking the inner mental and emotional battle of the main character. 


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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?

 

First off loved this clip the most so far. I don't take to the herkee jerky 20's pacing or the piano accompaniment in most cases I find it takes me out of the picture somewhat distracting. That said the dolly shots are just so controlled and add to the dramatic play. In fact it felt allot like a heavy handed play. I especially liked the tight shots and close ups that included her eyes, and noticed the eye makeup really highlights their expresssions and distressed attitudes.

 

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

I believe it added the tension he was seeking to express how serious the themes are including rape if I'm not mistaken? I'll have to watch the film but the accusatory woman seems the victim.

 

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.

There was another great display of montage, cross dissolves, closeups of facial/eye expressions, and dramatic interplay. I think it was a great example of character study not just for today's clip with the focus on actors, but for storytelling driven by characters. So far this has been my favourite so thumbs up. I believe the lack of piano or music assisted my appreciation and allowed me to focus on the dynamic visuals and combined performances.

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1. I have to agree with the others here, in that the POV shot is used to build tension before it is revealed which boy is guilty. As she steps closer and closer, the POV dolly zooms in, like a shark, effectively heightening the drama.

 

2. Heightens drama, builds tension in a creative way. We are literally "put in her shoes" before the big reveal. We do not know if the boy she identifies is truly the father, or is it because he has financial means to care for her.

 

3. Set design is used to literally divide the conflict. After the girl makes her announcement, she is physically shut out of the room while the headmaster speaks with the boys. In The Ring, the boxer physically moves to another room to discuss his conflict. Montage and overlays are still used to express inner thoughts, concerns and flashbacks. POV is used to put us in the heart of the action, whether it be oogling dancing girls in The Pleasure Garden, waiting for the telegram machine in The Lodger, or revealing the baby's father in Downhill.

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In this Daily Dose #4 we are asked to especially notice the use of Dolly shots to enhance subjectivity. I found that

1. The effect of the dolly shot on my was both physical and emotional. It made me feel uneasy and apprehensive for the two boys what enhanced this apprehensiveness was the physical sensation of motion, causing a slight nausea and dizziness. 

 

2. I believe that Hitchcock used this technique (dolly shots) specifically to creat a feeling of insecurity and unease in the audience. To knock them off kilter and make them feel vulnerable.

 

3. You can see Hitchcocks continued use of montage, extreme closeups and vignetting in this film as well as in The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger, and The Ring. These techniques make us feel closed in and also part of the scene. But they also add to the feeling of unease and suspense, leaving us worried about what will happen next. 

 

 

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