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learnfodder

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  1. 1. I would describe the opening shot of RW as exposition; it is introducing me to the set, to L.B. Jeffries and his apartment complex. His back to his window leaves this first scan totally up to me. I'm a spectator, but I am, now, a part of the story as such. The music cues my feelings of being part of a light (perky?) albeit urban, early morning routine with the milk man delivery, kids at play (not at school + the heat = summer, yes?) Even the cat is up and about. The shot becomes more voyeuristic as it progresses to more intimate viewings,spending a little longer focused on individuals, moving from the people at a distance on the balcony to the man shaving, then the couple sleeping on their fire escape to the bare back of the young woman. (note the nice urban touches of the trucks in the back of the set, the lone dog, even the pigeons and droppings on the roof) I am right at home. 2.I am also introduced to L.B. Jeffries who is not waking up, yet, probably because his leg is broken, so he is not going anywhere. The camera shot sans dialogue tells me not only is he a photographer, but whatever broke his leg broke his camera, too; he is a vigorous photographer, see the shots he has taken before on the wall? This accident wasn't a surprise; he's been in adventurous situations before--a bit on the daring side, probably a photo journalist. The second camera testifies to his being a committed photographer, and clearly it is his profession as I can see from the negative developed into the magazine cover. Does he know this blonde personally? 3. This scene does not make me feel voyeuristic, yet. This kind of accessible intimacy is not unusual in apartment living. You are always seeing and hearing snatches of your neighbors' lives, and not giving any of it a second thought. It is only in considering the cast on Jeffries's leg and the limitations it implies that I begin to feel a little trapped. Instead of being voyeuristic, this opening scene reminds me of other city dwelling openings I have seen in movies. It could be a Doris Day/James Garner film, or West Side Story. It is the focus on Jeffries and his apartment that brings me into the room. 4. The most cinematic? If this were a stage play, I'd be struck by the intricacies of the set, so the film's intricacies leap out at me, but I'd have to review some other movies and rethink my definition of "cinematic" to answer this question. Is RW the most movie movie I've seen by Hitchcock? One where I am aware that I'm watching a movie more than I am involved with the story? I think the purest moment I have had being simultaneously in the story, but fully conscious of having a cinematic experience at the same time, is the plane scene in North By Northwest. I will have to reconsider this question after seeing RW for a third time this Friday.
  2. I am noticing more detail as the class progresses. Now I am obsessed by shoes (note tennis shoes at the end of the movie. What do they signify?) I love the contrast of Bruno to Guy, the tie and tie pin--all kind of brash. Seems opposite of how the characters turn out in that guy is dressed in dark and somber clothes--if it were not for the tennis gear (which actually helps to distinguish his feet from others in the train station). Bruno is seemingly friendly, outgoing, possibly more likable, but maybe he is just a little too much. Back to the shoes. (I can't remember the name of this style--saddle shoe?) Bruno's shoes are childlike, not indicating youthful vigor as much as a lack of maturity, perhaps from some crisscross on the home front. I love the innocence of Hitchcock accounting for the crisscross shot of the railroad tracks as a happenstance of where he had to mount the camera. What kind of shoes was he wearing while boarding the train? Ah, an excuse to see the film again.
  3. The music is ominous as the camera moves from the children playing in the street to the boarding house, to the window. Uncle Charlie, Mr. Spencer, is suspicious right away because of the booze (I assume) and money put sloppily on the bedside table and falling on the floor. Mrs. Martin prattles away about two men looking for him, and pulling the shade down creating a shadow over the corpselike Joseph Cotton lying on the bed. This is all very noir as the mood goes from the children (innocence) to the solemn (not playful) dead-like Cotton to the danger (the two men, the money, his resignation). Then--resolve. He rises, breaks the glass (his back turned to the audience, making him remote ), to the shade going up, he is in the sunlight (notice the tune of the waltz foreshadowing what comes later). They are bluffing. With noir defiance, he walks out (note the #13 on the door), walks into the face of danger/death, past the men daring them. And the piano planks planks planks to their steps as they follow him away, away down the city street. Great film.
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