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About melkirsch

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  1. True Detective, seasons 1 and 2 The Passenger The Last Wave Marathon Man Picnic at Hanging Rock The Fog Eyewitness Apartment Zero Bunny Lake is Missing Taking Lives True Crime Blink Bug China Moon Bad Timing Matchpoint Laura A Stolen Life Wire in the Blood series Talented Mr. Ripley Bourne series Absolute Power Parallax View Repulsion Internal Affairs Somewhere in Time Frantic Seconds Eyes of Laura Mars DaVinci Code Crimson Rivers Mirage Day of the Jackal Pacific Heights Narrow Margin Klute Black Widow Masquerade Weekend at Bernie's Reflections in a Golden Eye Criminal Law General's Daughter Fallen Idol ...Etc.
  2. Hello Mr. Philippe and Professor Edwards, 1. Mr. Hitchcock dealt with many limitations to his "touch" during his career. What would you consider his most unrestrained film? 2. What might Mr. Hitchcock think of contemporary film-making especially those films created in the suspense/action and romantic comedy genres? Do you think he would embrace CGI? 3. Did Mr. Hitchcock admire any other filmmakers or films in his later years? What might he think of Brian DePalma's homage of films to his legacy. 4. What were the inner motivations that led Mr. Hitchcock to explore the darker side or nightmares of life? Thank you and great course and collaborations.
  3. The title sequence of "Vertigo" relies heavily on the concept of the Lissajous Figure, a repetitive motion that can produce a repeating design. Lissajous figures can only vary through changing the ratio of it's curves to it's base or planes. It resembles a pendulum motion which is traditionally a motion used to induce hypnosis. The Saul Bass design coupled with the Bernard Hermann score in "Vertigo's" opening reflect this idea of a repeating motion confined to a space. The only time this shape changes is due to it's slight change in motion. Vertigo is a feeling of being disoriented yet confined. It is a repeating condition that is extremely uncomfortable and takes the afflicted out of a normal plane of existence and into a tight, circular (repeating pattern) and spinning place that is hard to disengage. We, the audience, are being pulled into this repeating circular space in the title sequence. The Hermann score is a repeating theme only played slightly differently as the title pulls us through it's confined plane of existence. The lips are the sensual motivator to this pull as seen in the close up of the woman's face during the James Stewart title, they signal the motivation to this obsessive pull. The iris, or circular structures of the eyes, are what concentrates and witnesses this motion and whirlpools us further into the mindset or psyches of the afflicted protagonists of the title. The camera, in turn, has an iris or eye, another spiral reference. This pull or vertigo appears almost a helpless condition as the repeating opening figures are not strayed from it's revolving forms, the title only veers slightly and so does the score. They remain tight. One gets the feeling we, the audience, and maybe the protagonists of the story may be pulled and locked into a repetitious behavioral condition of some sort of which we/they may not be able to escape. It seems by no accident that Mr. Hitchcock chose San Francisco as the setting of "Vertigo." With the City's repeating pattern of steep hills and streets, it can call to mind the sinusoidal waves in a Lissajous oscilloscopic figure, making the traveler disoriented and vertiginous yet somewhat dazzled by it's beautiful display.
  4. The opening scene to "Rear Window" shows us the character of Jefferies who is recovering from a broken leg. He is recumbant in his wheelchair, almost looking dead but just asleep. Counterpoint to this static shot of Jefferies is the life around him in the adjacent rear building. Things are in motion, folks going about the start of their day, pigeons, a cat and dog are animated. It is Jefferies that appears lifeless. The note on his cast could be thought of an epitaph. He seems sweaty and uncomfortable but apparently resigned to his fate of being a stilled patient. He is filmed with his back to the mundane day to day activities of the lives of his neighbors. His back to the lack of excitement of everyday existence. We are then shown close ups of notable action photographs on his wall. Also indicators of movement and life yet now resigned to be photographed stills of such. A smashed camera once active is now also stilled. Fashion magazines seen on a tabletop seem out of place amidst these shots of robust action stills. This feminine placement seems out of place with all the masculine photographs of action and drama. It is curious why these magazines are placed here. An unwelcome interjection? This opening shot is done with no dialogue and maybe a nod to Mr. Hitchcock's start in silent films since information is given only visually. This may be why this film is considered Mr. Hitchcock's most cinematic since the visuals, set design, character movements, cinematography and costume design will take the story forward and not solely sound or dialogue.
  5. There are many allusions to criss cross patterns in this opening of Mr. Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train." The two men, Guy and Bruno, are first introduced in a cross cut meeting while disembarking from two identical "diamond" taxis to the same train. Guy has two tennis rackets held in a criss cross grasp next to his rather plain, dark luggage. Bruno has white and flashier luggage. White for luggage is not very practical. The Tiomkin music plays the same bouncy theme for the two men yet with Bruno it is highlighted by lighter and more airy instruments as horns and strings whereas with Guy there are deeper, earthier sounds with the bigger horns and a more sonorous resonance. Bruno has a more jazzy and upbeat sound echoing his walk. He has a lighter, delicate step and Guy has a more planted, firm step, and heavy. Their shoes reflect these differences as the two men cross-over to the train and their shoes are only shown in this opening scene. Bruno's shoes are two tone and black and white and show a playful side. Guy's shoes are more flat and practical and dark in color. Guy, a guy the Everyman, and Bruno, a name implying a tough guy image, finally meet on the train. They cross bump shoes accidentally as seated across from one another. Guy's clothing is all but the same dark, wool texture and fits rather big and floppy to his form and Bruno's is pin-striped and form fitting. Bruno likes fashion details and Guy just well, dresses practically. Bruno has a criss -crossed handkerchief in his lapel pocket, Guy has no handkerchief . Guy has a checkered black and white tie hidden and covered over by a dark vest and Bruno has a dark tie that his mother bought him by the way, with a flashy crustacean theme imprinted, he has a tie clasp emblazoning his name. He draws attention to it. Guy has a book to read on the train indicating an introverted type, Bruno has no reading material and appears the extrovert as he starts a conversation and sidles up to the uncomfortable Guy. The two are counterpoint to one another from the spring in their steps, their dress, their interests as a book and tennis. The crustacean design to Bruno's tie may imply a bottom feeder mentality dressed up as a snazzy delicacy. He starts the conversation with flattery and Guy seems little interested. Once Bruno sits next to Guy rather than across from, Bruno now melds and changes the criss cross interplay of the two men. They are now joined for some unexplained reason as the direction of the train decides on one track for the journey from the choice of a criss-crossed two.
  6. Mr. Hitchcock's uses a door frame to isolate and focus on the Grant character's silhouette upon meeting the Bergman character, Alicia. He appears out of shadows like some cardboard cut-out, handsomely dressed in a sharp dark suit that fits him well. He is an imposing character one who will not go away easily to the ill Alicia's desire that he do so. Whether filmed upside down or right side up, this character of Devlin is persistent and appealing towards Alicia. She is disoriented, he is not. He is filmed sharply and angularly, she is filmed softly and almost out of focus. He is defined, she is not. He is focused, she is not. She is dressed in a hideous, sparkling blouse that seems out of place in a bedroom or near the dapper-dressed Devlin. Devlin and Alicia clearly are not in sync and the costume design reflects this idea of unequalness. What does gets her up from the awkward prone position in the bed is Devlin's call to duty as mentioned in the lecture video by our two instructors. Devlin prods her into action, to assemble and pull herself together, enjoin for the sake of the greater good which he knows she can claim a part of her, all cynicism and drunkenness aside. He speaks to her gently and firmly not harshly. He speaks to that unclaimed part, the noble part they both have in common. She does not know she owns this quality until the recording is played and she finally joins the seductive Devlin in that door frame to acknowledge this insight. They are now in sync, equal, and Mr. Hitchcock has framed them as a beautiful and defined couple to illustrate this key change of heart.
  7. The set design and costumes give off a light and airy feel to "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" unlike most of Mr. Hitchcock's previous openings we have seen. There is a lot of light in this opening and very little shadow except when the housekeeper and office worker show up at the bedroom door of the couple. The music is also light and whimsical and the only hints of trouble with a dark motive surfaces when the two characters are first filmed in close ups. There is shadow to their faces. There is a darkness and heaviness there lurking between the couple that seems troubling to them amidst all the wistfulness. For these brief moments of close-ups, the film is not light and airy but gets heavy and dark. One gets the feeling there are major problems between these two, demonstrated by the stacks of dirty dishes and well worn dismay of the household staff and lawyers at the law firm. This attractive couple have been down this road before with not much progress shown, as the piles of dishware seen "multiplying" in the neglected room will witness. The gentleman feigning to leave when he closes the door gets the woman to sit up in the bed and finally pay attention. They appear to have a push-pull to their relationship or a "can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em" type of repeating interaction. Even when they reconcile at the end of this scene, there is a sadness between them shown in another close-up. They appear to be a wealthy couple since the set design reflects a tasteful and expensive eye for decorating and maybe even hired someone to do the task. They also appear to be an irresponsible and self-involved couple that likes to make messes that others will clean up as the stacked dishes, strewn clothing, rumpled sleepwear and unmade bed will surely not be straightened out by them but by the loyal help. The gentleman shown unshaven has even neglected his job in favor of yet another apparent marathon session of intense and obsessional bickering. The "fights" and subsequent stalemates are the focus of this couple and most probably of the film.
  8. In this opening scene from "Shadow of a Doubt," Mr. Hitchcock lets us in on the dual personality of Uncle Charlie, a possible Jekyll and Hyde type. At first photographed serene and calm laying on the bed smoking, he soon reveals himself to be a twisted character full of rage as he unexpectedly hurls a drinking glass at the wall. He is introduced to us in a low rent boarding house yet dressed to the nines, smoking expensive cigars, money strewn on the floor. Even though he likes the finer things in life, money may not be all that makes this character tick, witness the strewn about cash load. Not many normal folks would get so dressed up to lay on a heap of a bed and so this is curious, much like a corpse laid out in a funeral or the Lancaster character in "The Killers" awaiting his fate to die. Cornered animals. For yes, Uncle Charlie appears to be waiting or maybe contemplating his next move. He is a careful planner and strategist and this may make him dangerous, that and the hidden rage that may shadow a burgeoning psychopathic personality. For Uncle Charlie doesn't just sneak out of the #13 boarding house, he struts right in front of the two tailing detectives. Defiant and arrogant and hair trigger dangerous. Likewise, he failed to acknowledge the kind landlady's concern for him and doesn't even bother to look her in the eye. It is like she does not exist. Yes, Uncle Charlie appears to be a guy who likes to hide things as the shadows on the rented room's walls attest. Human caring is foreign to him. Tiomkin's soundtrack echoes this dual personality well, as the music can appear merry and upbeat ("The Merry Widow Waltz") at times only to be eclipsed and paired by the ominous downturn of an alternating foreboding melody. For Uncle Charlie maybe presents one way as a quiet, meticulous (cigars neatly lining his lapel pocket) and charming bloke yet he may in fact shelter a dark, twisted and violent persona.
  9. Mr. Hitchcock opens with a more expansive scene than his previous British era films. Even though the "Rebecca" opening is of miniature construction, the surrounding areas, the fluid camera tracking and the decaying mansion reflect a looser and grander quality. The scene's opening brings to mind an almost free-floating or dream-like attribute. This differs from Mr. Hitchcock's previous British films in that many of those scenes opened with a great deal of kinetic, earthly activity with hints of suspense and chaos to come. Crowds usually populated these scenes and "Rebecca" is all solitary, mysterious and slow-moving in it's inception. By further contrast, "Rebecca" seems a static scene (stage) yet the narration and swift camera tracking and alternations of dark and light encourage the scene to a motion. It is not an opening moved by people or brisk edits but one of reflection and contemplation that is only moved by the set design, narration, visuals and light and shadows camera work. This shows how Mr. Hitchcock's Hollywood collaborators were able to enhance the "Hitchcock touch." We are drawn and swept into this scene as is apparently the narrator. One gets the feeling this mystery will have a strong psychological bent due to it's adhesive effect on the narrator. By the fluid camera track, we feel that we will be swept into a mystery that may recite a past dark memory that now seems to haunt the film's narrator much like the Manderley mansion, itself. The opening scene also seems to be similar in movement and effect to Welles' "Citizen Kane" opening. From the reminiscent narration to the foreboding mansion in Kane's film we feel there is going to be a deep-seeded recollection of past events that have significantly influenced the narrator as in Mr. Hitchcock's "Rebecca." The mansion so clearly defined in this introductory scene will have a focal part in this story, becoming possibly a "scene of the crime" that mysteriously overlooks or haunts both the narrator and indirectly, the audience. The next cliff-side scene is one of a rowdy ocean shot that introduces us to the character played by Laurence Olivier. The unruly sea may represent a tumultuous and dangerous frame of mind reflected in this character. By contrast, the Joan Fontaine character is presented as calm and mild-mannered enjoying a serene seaside walk and could be represented by the modest coastline. The clashed introduction of these two characters may presage a "no good deed goes unpunished" pull on the Fontaine character by the Olivier character in the film. Tempestuous ocean versus the relaxed coastline. This scene calls to mind the set up in "Vertigo" when the endearing Scotty saves an unsettled Madeleine from her suicidal jump into the SF Bay. Likewise, the Fontaine character in "Rebecca" saves the Olivier character from a possible suicidal jump into the ocean. Both characters in Hitchcock's world may be made to suffer for these brave decisions.
  10. The chaotic and light-hearted opening in this scene reminds me of a manic "Marx Brothers" film along with the fictitious country reference. The chaos is soon smoothed over by the cuckoo clock announcement of the entrance of the three American women amongst the patiently resigned and silent group of travelers waiting for the train. The brunette is the dominant character as opposed to the blondes in her wake, she does the talking and ordering and is positioned away from the other two. She is the first up the stairs and shows us a take charge type of personality. Her name is Iris or what can be thought of as the eye of the camera or conduit to Hitchcock's sharp visual attention, the focused eye. The deference reeled to this group and to Iris in particular by the innkeeper is contrasted by the whimsical outrage shown by the two observant English gentlemen who may reflect a growing change of priorities in England to world events at the time. They are aware and conscious of the actions of the attention grabbing Americans and the general plight of the travel. They are aware of mistakes they made with the "anthem." This quaint, chalet scene and the recitation of the many languages by the innkeeper hints at Mr. Hitchcock including European folk culture into his film for possible importance to the story. Interesting to note that the old woman comes into the scene abruptly and quickly leaves and disappears into a literal whirlwind or windy vortex, a MacGuffin figure?
  11. Mr. Hitchcock starts out by showing us an anonymous gentleman entering a working class music hall, he could be "Everyman." We do not see his face until the show starts and he is positioned in the middle of the crowd. He seems better dressed, more refined and educated than the rest of the audience. His demeanor does not reflect the audience's boisterous and rowdy greeting to Mr. Memory. Mr. Memory reflects back onto this gentleman an educated and disciplined mind shared between the two. The question the gentleman gives to Mr. Memory, it is an exact question with an exact answer as opposed to the open-ended and mocking questions posed by the audience. Mr. Memory reflects back an answer that is similar to the nature of the question, very exact. The gentleman even doggedly repeats the question twice after getting interrupted the first time. It means something to him, this question. One gets the feeling that this gentleman is different from the other theater goers once his "Everyman" status is dissolved into the crowd. He stands out in dress, demeanor and the manner of his unusual question. This gentleman seems respectful of the Memory man's talent once he gets such a polished answer as opposed to the frivolous reception posed by the audience. One gets the feeling that facts and memory of such will be important and stand out in this story by Mr. Hitchcock.
  12. The characters in this film, "The Man Who Knew Too Much," are literally thrown together in this chaotic opening loop. This is different from the opening scenes of "The Pleasure Garden" and "The Lodger" which are well-ordered in assemblage. However, once this topsy-turvy scene is sorted out, the predominant connection is linked between the stranger in the fur coat and the shaken skier whose brave actions saved the daughter and dog. (A foreshadowing?) A long stare by both stranger and skier to each other is highlighted at the end of their interaction. They seem familiar to each other yet one is not sure how. The other characters in this scene only serve to move the scene along and seem incidental to the movement of the action. The father seems trifling while the daughter is seen obtrusively. The mother is nowhere to be found. The intense meeting of the two gentlemen is what anchors this whirlwind of a scene. Interesting observation by the daughter that the "furred" stranger, a predatory animal, who may have been on top of this situation more than the others realize, shadowing them, "has too many teeth." Possibly indicating that beneath the charm and wide smiles lurks a fellow with an over-reaching and powerful bite.
  13. Mr. Hitchcock uses dysynchrony or counterpoint in these scenes involving Alice at the family's store with the use of scenery and sound. True to his word, Mr. Hitchcock did not match the sound to match the visuals. Alice feeling very cut off from the goings on in the family store is shown in a quiet phone booth removed from the others and startled by the words, "Police" in the phone book. This is highlighted by Mr. Hitchcock and captures her immediate focus. This further alienates and stuns Alice from the group. The day to day chatter involving a local murder takes over the shoptalk and Alice seems in her own world as she is shown in pre-occupied close-ups amidst the disarticulated gossip. The shop sounds are far removed from Alice's distracted mind and she looks ill at ease through-out these commonplace scenes. While in close-up, Alice is moved only by the words, "knife" in the group's conversation. Her eyebrows match the intonations and are raised with each escalating and emphasizing recitation of the word. Finally, the counterpoint of these cozy kitchen scenes mesh with a loud utterance of the word, "knife," and Alice's subsequent clumsy and noisy toss of the knife. This jolts the scene as the sound and visuals match, finally. It breaks wide open the previous discordant scenes and the incongruous non-chalance of the group. Flimsy comments ensue and Alice retreats once again into her state of removal or discord with the shop folks and day to day activities of the shop. Yet the shop bell then clangs and Alice answers it, jolted as well. A "For Whom the Bell Tolls" moment. It tolls for Alice. Counterpoint then resumes.
  14. This scene from "The Ring" reminds me that sometimes the greatest fight is not against others but within ourselves. Mr. Hitchcock use of mirrors is to exhibit or reflect the character's own mental beliefs. The superimposed mirror images serve to digress from the frenetic scenes of partying and dancing. As if this personal fight is taking the boxer from life's pace and into his own emotional boxing "ring." As the image of the boxer's manager's figure dissolves from the mirror, what remains is the image of the rival and his wife. Another indication that the real fight is being waged within the confines of the boxer.
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