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About mariaeliz

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  • Birthday November 30

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  1. 1. Describe how this opening is different from the multiple opening scenes you have seen in the Daily Doses from the British silent and/or sound period. Unlike other openings, this film doesn't show people right away, but rather slowly pans along a path and uses narration to welcome the viewer to the story. Again, it is an ordinary location, but for the first time I had the sense that the house was going to be just as important as any other character. There is more emphasis on location, and a slowing down of pace. 2. What are the Hitchcock "touches" in this opening that help you identify this as a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock? The location is ordinary, and the people seem to be pretty ordinary, but it's not yet clear that they will be thrust into extraordinary circumstances. This didn't seem to have as much of a Hitchcock touch as other films - possibly because of the producer's influence. 3. How does this opening sequence use Manderley - the house itself - as a kind of character in the story. What affect does the flashback structure and voiceover narration have on your experience of this scene? Manderley seems like a character because of the way the opening voiceover is all about the house, and the only thing the viewer sees in the couple minutes of the film is the journey down the drive to the house, and the house itself, rather than beginning with either of the main characters.
  2. 1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music. Hitchcock opens the film in a very relaxed manner - upbeat folk music is playing in the background, people are chatting and laughing. When the hotel manager starts to tell everyone what has happened, the music stops and everyone is more frantic. 2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to the scene? For me, these characters made the opening of the film relatable to me - they were (before the women entered) the only ones speaking English, and conveyed the audiences thoughts of "what is this man saying?" when the hotel manager was speaking other languages. They also help set up the importance and wealth of the women, since the hotel manager rebuffs them on his way to help the ladies. 3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris as the star of this scene. Hitchcock establishes Iris as the star in the way he has the camera follow her every movement, as Caldicott and Charters look on. Her talk about traveling, returning home, and being a frequent guest at the hotel, and wanting champagne further show that she is someone important and of great wealth. The hotel manager follows her party up the stairs to attend to them immediately, without even a thought given to all of the stranded passengers he was focused on before.
  3. 1. Based on this opening scene, what do you anticipate is going to be more important in this film - the characters or the plot? I think the characters are going to be more important, and the film will be carried by their stories and motivations more heavily than just the plot. 2. What do you learn about Abbott (Peter Lorre) in his brief scene? How might this introduction affect your view of the character Abbott later in the film? I haven't seen the film besides this clip, but from Abbott's brief scene it appears that he is a jovial and good-natured person, but at the end there is some sort of evil undercurrent - so perhaps he is someone well-versed in how to manipulate and make whatever impression he desires to others. 3. We saw two opening scenes from Hitchcock's silent films in the Daily Doses last week. How is this opening both similar and different from those two films' opening scenes? The other opening scenes didn't really focus on the characters yet - they were flashy, and visually appealing and interesting, but it wasn't clear yet how they would relate to the rest of the film. In this opening scene, it is obvious that this is a faster-paced film where every bit of dialogue is necessary to understand the story and motivations of the characters. It seems like it will be a film where the audience will have to be an active viewer.
  4. 1. In this sequence, describe how Hitchcock uses sound design to put you in the subjective "mind of Alice"? Be specific. Hitchcock puts the viewer in the mind of Alice when she is in the telephone booth - we can no longer hear the conversation happening outside of it. Also when the lady is talking about the murder when the family is at the breakfast table - the audience is let into Alice's mind which is only focusing on the word "knife" and hearing that instead of everything else that is being said. 2. Describe the different ways that the sound design of this scene operates in counterpoint to the visual track. For example, how does Hitchcock set up the shot where the knife flies out of Alice's hand so that it registers a shock in his audience? Pay attention to both what is happening visually and aurally. Be specific. Hitchcock sets that up as shocking when he zooms in on Alice's face and her emotions instead of showing her surroundings. The repetition of the word knife - the only thing she is focusing on in that conversation - also causes the viewer to forget about what else is going on in that scene, and that there is even a knife near her. Therefore, when Hitchcock then suddenly cuts to the knife flying out of her hand, it takes the viewer by surprise. 3. Why do you think this particular use of subjective sound is not used frequently in cinema? I think this use of subjective sound is not frequently used because of how far we've come in terms of technology. Filmmakers no longer have to rely on sound as much to create suspense, so it is now done more visually.
  5. 1. In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots/POV tracking shots in this scene. The POV tracking shots almost made it seem like the students were walking towards the headmaster in slow motion, and it created a great sense of unease. 2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling? As Hitchcock is the "Master of Suspense," this was an early way to subtlety add suspense to the scene. I think he used it to bring the viewer more into the story and up the stakes. In the moments where the two students are walking, the viewer is forced to choose who he/she sympathizes with and is rooting for. 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. They all had similar montages, and instances of overlaying an action shot on a close up of an actor.
  6. 1. How does Hitchcock use montage or expressive editing to add vitality and rhythm to this scene? Hitchcock used montage a couple times - the girls dancing, the musical instruments blending together, and the wife talking to and then finally kissing the champion. Through these montages, he was able to convey the passage of time and move the action along. He also added a vitality to the dancing, because the viewer really went on a musical journey throughout the montage. 2. As is the case with a lot of German Expressionist films, in this scene there are many shots that are very subjective and put us into the psychological mind of a main character. Please note the various techniques Hitchcock uses to create that feeling of subjectivity. Hitchcock did this when he showed the main character looking into the mirror and seeing the reflection of his wife with the champion and also during the montage of them talking/kissing, but transposing the shot of them over the guy who was talking to him as well as his face when he is taking it all in. 3. How does Hitchcock stage the action, use set design, and editing techniques to increase the stakes in the rivalry between the two gentlemen? He increases the stakes in the rivalry by using the aforementioned montages and shots that let the viewer into the main character's mind. Also the mirror, which implies the champion knows he can be seen with the gentleman's wife, but he doesn't care.
  7. 1. Compare the opening of The Lodger to the opening of The Pleasure Garden - what similarities and differences do you see between the two films? Similarities: They both begin with the camera holding still on the scene and the people being the only source of movement. Differences: The Pleasure Garden had a much brighter and happier start. The audience could sense the mood would eventually change and conflict would arise, but it was foreshadowed in a much more light-hearted way. The Lodger was also missing the humor that was present in the beginning of The Pleasure Garden. 2. Identify elements of the "Hitchcock style" in this sequence? Please provide specific examples. Even if you are not sure if it is the "Hitchcock style," what images or techniques stand out in your mind as powerful storytelling? Or images that provide an excess of emotion? The use of music was very powerful, and something that I think Hitchcock only continued to perfect throughout his career. The expressions of pain on the actors faces - Hitchcock never shied away from his character's showing that raw emotion. Another really powerful moment was how he had the description of the murderer typed out instead of being shown as a cue card. It was a bit more difficult to read it that way, but I think that only sharpened the viewers senses, allowing suspense to already begin to creep into the picture - all within the first couple minutes! 3. Even though this is a "silent" film, the opening image is one of a woman screaming. What do you notice in how Hitchcock frames that particular shot that makes it work in a silent film even though no audible scream can be heard. And what other screams like that come to mind from Hitchcock's later work? The scream works because Hitchcock filmed a close up of the actress' face, without any other distracting images in the background. Therefore, the audience is fully focused on her and her look of complete anguish. That paired with the fitting music that crescendos as a scream would allows the viewer to really hear it in their mind, feel the anguish and be holding their breath, eagerly (or not so eagerly) awaiting what is to come. This makes me think of the shower scene in Psycho - another instance where Hitchcock really let the music tell the story more than the actor's voices.
  8. I have to confess that I have only seen about 4 Hitchcock films (which will change throughout this course) - The Birds, Torn Curtain, Marnie, and Psycho. I think The Birds will remain in my top 5 at the end of this course because it's one I'll never tire of watching, and I notice something new each time. Torn Curtain is another favorite (which is probably an unpopular opinion), but mostly because of the actors in it.
  9. 1. Do you see the beginnings of the "Hitchcock touch" in this sequence? Please provide specific examples. Yes, I see it in the opening shot - a still frame that acts as an anchor as the characters are milling about in it. It was reminiscent of opening scenes in his later works such as The Birds and Torn Curtain (probably others as well, but those are two that I have seen that sprung to mind). I could also see it in his making the showgirl a blonde (which would become his signature protagonist), the man smoking in front of a sign that prohibited it, and the dry humor that was already present. Also, I was very aware of the music, which I feel is something that becomes more and more striking throughout Hitchcock's filmography. 2. Do you agree or disagree with Strauss, Yacowar, and Spoto's assessments that this sequence contains elements, themes, or approaches that we will see throughout Hitchcock's 50 year career? I agree. A lot of what I mentioned (how he kept the camera still, humor, music) stayed present in his later films and in some cases became more prominent and refined. 3. Since this is a silent film, do you feel there were any limitations on these opening scenes due to the lack of synchronous spoken dialogue? No. I think that Hitchcock was comfortable enough with the technology and filming process that he was able to convey everything he needed to without the audience hearing the actors speak. The emotions, gait of the characters, and music did its job to create intrigue and leave the audience questioning what was going to happen next. I think in some ways it was more difficult for silent film actors because they only had a small amount of time to convey so much without words. They really had to embody their characters which is impressive, especially for a suspenseful film. Watching this clip made me really want to know what happens in the rest of the movie!!
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