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savannahhope5

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  1. Hitchcock's touches are spread throughout the film. One of the most Hitchcockian shots is the POV shot when a very drunk Ingrid Bergman is lying on the bed as Cary Grant comes into view. Lighting has always been very important to Hitchcock. One of the ways we can distinguish Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman's personalities in the film is through the lighting alone. Ingrid has a very soft glow that is always on her: it signifies her innocence. Cary Grant, on the other hand, always wears very dark clothes and has dark shadows either cast on him or he is hiding in the shadows. It shows how his character is not trustworthy. This movie definitely changed people's views of these actors. Cary Grant was the charismatic hero who would never do anything wrong. Although he is not the villain, he is not exactly a good guy. He is fueled by jealousy and is blinded by it throughout the film to the point where Ingrid's safety is compromised. Ingrid played a very scandalous role. In the first act we see that she is drunk driving and very flirtatious. This was not the typical role that a female of that time would play. Hitchcock always defied gender roles in his films by creating female characters that are more than just sidekicks or the "housewife" type or the ditzy blonde. He created females with a mind of her own, and Ingrid's character of Alicia is one of those examples.
  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. This movie has a very cheerful and light tone compared to many of Hitchcock's films. Just from the opening scene, it is hard to believe that it could possibly be the "Master of Suspense" himself directing this film. Although this is a crime related film later on, it is a very lighthearted and comedic one. From the cheerful music to the arguing Germans to the poor hotel employee who is trying to calm down everyone, this is not going to be a dark picture. 2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene. I think of Caldicott and Charters as the eye of the storm. They let us step back a moment and give us a sense of the time period and setting. They also set more of the tone with their humor. One of the moments is when they are discussing the Hungarian national anthem. We also see how they are of lower status when Margaret Lockwood's character and her group of friends get service first. 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 (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene. One of the camera movements that shows Margaret Lockwood's character as the star is when they are going towards the staircase. Instead of the camera facing the whole group of girls, it slightly angles in the direction of Lockwood. This view almost completely blocks out the other girls. She also delivers most of the dialogue in this scene. We know early on that she will be an important character in the film.
  3. 1. In your own words, please describe the effect of watching the POV dolly shots / POV tracking shots in this scene? What makes dolly shots so effective is the fact that is makes us feel a deeper connection with the characters on the screen. If the camera had been still, we would not feel as much of an emotional connection to the scene. When the camera follows these boys on the track, we feel like we are experiencing the feelings of anxiety and sympathy for our characters not knowing what is going to happen through the door. What makes a POV dolly shot so effective is that we are not simply outside viewers anymore. We are actually there with the characters experiencing the irrefutable fate. We are not watching a movie anymore; we are IN the movie. 2. Why do you think Hitchcock uses the technique of a POV tracking shot? What does it add to his visual storytelling? Hitchcock always tried to experiment with his directing and visual techniques, always trying to find an innovative or unique way to tell his story. By using the POV tracking shot, he is doing what he would later do in a lot of his later films. The film is not simply just a screenplay. The visuals create the atmosphere and the psyche of the film itself. I think by using this POV shot he adds to the storytelling by pulling us deeper and deeper into the film as we see their point of view of what is happening in the story. 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. A similarity I noticed was between Downhill and The Ring. Both of the films have moments where a character is thinking, with the help of visuals. In Downhill it was Mabel thinking about the night she got impregnated. The other was of Jack as he was imagining his wife flirting with the Champ. In both it was a montage, fading in and out between the actual event and the person. I think this editing technique helps us know the character better, as we are able to see exactly what they are feeling and thinking.
  4. 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. German Expressionism in of itself is more about portraying psychological elements through the use of the set and/or camera techniques. The psyche or emotions of the character are shown through the visual. We know more about what our main character is feeling through what Hitchcock shows on the screen. The specific example is when our main character's mind wanders from the conversation he is having as he begins to imagine his wife Mabel sitting next to the champion. He begins to worry and the tension rises as he envisions his wife flirting with the champion, and can only imagine what might ensue if his wife is left there. With the heightened music, we are able to tell that Jack is not a character who trusts in himself, and possibly has issues of jealousy. We know exactly what his mindset is purely because of the visuals of the mirroring of his wife and the champion.
  5. 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? Hitchcock has never been the type of director to have a very slow exposition. Most of his films start out with some sort of crime or vice happening. In The Lodger, the story is introduced by explaining that there has been a murder. Later on, we see the same thing. In Psycho, Marion Crane steals money from her workplace and she is murdered in the first half of the film. In North by Northwest, Roger Thornhill is already kidnapped and accused of crimes. Hitchcock always has intrigued his audiences by starting out his films with a bang, and always setting a dark tone from the very beginning. You can definitely see the heavy influence of German Expressionism in his films. German Expressionism was all about the filmmakers expressing the darkness of humanity through the plot lines as well as the actual techniques and sets used. Hitchcock's aesthetic greatly resembles German Expressionism through his art direction as well as all his characters usually being a victim to a terrible fate, which was a main theme in many of the German Expressionism films. An image that stood out to me was the woman who was describing the murderer. It greatly mirrored many of the German Expressionist actors who would overact using over the top facial expressions and hand or body movements, due to lack of dialogue. Part of Hitchcock that always remained in him from the beginning until the end of his film career was his interest in the world of the macabre. The way he tells his story through his camera movements and techniques always portrays such a powerful story into the dark world that Hitchcock creates.
  6. 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? I did not find limitations at all. Film is not just an element of the spoken word, it is a compilation of moving pieces to create a scene or an action. Although dialogue does add to films, it does not define a film. When anyone thinks of Alfred Hitchcock in his films, most people do not think of the writing as much as the style of the moving images. I think it is possibly better that it is a silent film, so that we as the viewers have to figure out the meaning through what we see. Alfred Hitchcock is a master of storytelling, and it clearly shows even in his first film. One of the themes I noted early on was how the women were being objectified by the gawking men. Hitchcock told us this not through words, but through his choice of shots. He used the technique of juxtaposition as we switch between the shots of the girls and the shots of the men in the audience. Is there limitations with silent films? Not at all. Silent films are perhaps the films with the greatest storytelling, due to the fact that sound could not be used. Some of the best films could have the sound turned off and we still understand what is happening. I can definitely say that this is something Hitchcock utilizes with all his films, and with his art direction background he used stylized and unique shots to tell a story instead of many conventional styles of the time.
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