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wadjet25

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  1. From the moment we set eyes on Dunant purchasing a ticket for the show, we know that this film is about him. We don't see his face until the audience of the show is revealed, but we see him from the back and important details are revealed. His coat, while not common, is well tailored and of popular fashion, his shoes are well taken care of, he is well coifed and carries himself in a confident manner. And while many of the previous opening scenes take place during a spectator event, none of the opening scenes we have viewed to this point follow one character with such detail. And even when focus shifts from Dunant to Mr. Memory, Dunant is still prominent, asking his question many times before it gets answered, portraying a man who is wryly amused.
  2. From everything we have learned so far, can there be any doubt that the characters will be more importnat to the plot? We can see it in how the opening scene is handled. While there is some focus on the action, it contribution (the crash) to the story is to open character interaction. Here we get to meet Abbott in an unguarded moment, where we are introduced to his sense of humor. He has been made vulnerable​ and instead of anger, we see laughter. Through dialogue and interaction we learn a great deal about him. English is not his native language. He has a "nurse." And he knows the ski jumper, Luis, and he wants to keep that a secret from his new acquaintances. All these things give me a favorable, if not suspicious view of Abbott. I will watch him with interest to see what other tidbits he reveals. The opening scenes of ​The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger and The Man Who Knew Too Much​ all open with scenes of action. The Pleasure Garden ​opens with a chorus line of women running down spiral stairs. The Lodger begins with a woman screaming. ​The Man Who Knew Too Much​ with a wide angle shot of a ski jump competition. Each action shot also has an audience of sorts, and The Man Who Knew Too Much​ brings the action of the event directly into the spectators, unlike the previous two.
  3. Hitchcock places us in the "mind of Alice," by having the sound follow where she goes in the scene. When she walks into the store, the voice of the gossip at the register goes from barely audible/ understandable to loud and clear, and as she steps into the phone booth, all sound stops. We don't even hear the pages of the phone book turn, or the click of the receiver. This also speaks to how the sound design operates at a counter point to the visual track because even though there is silence in the booth, we know from the visual cue of the Alice looking at the phone book entry for the Metropolitan Police, that her mind is wild with activity. The absence of sound is just as loud as Ms. Gossip's chattering. The use of sound is used to an even more pointed extent as Alice sits down to breakfast. Ms. Gossip's words have become a murmur and Alice sits at the table, lost in thought, with the word "knife" cutting through the air at even intervals. Alice is unnerved by the knife at the table, the audience is unnerved with the gossip's squeak. The visual and sound are at a counterpoint here b/c we see Alice struggle to reach for the knife. The audience is anticipating that she will be able to pick the knife up, and mangle the bread. Instead, we get one more punctuating, "KNIFE!" and Alice accidently throws it across the room. At that moment, sound and action meet and startle Alice and the audience. I suspect this subjective sound method is not used much in cinema because while ingenious, I could see many audience members and studio people being confused by it. What is the gossips saying? Is it important? Why can't I hear it? Is the sound system broken? Wait, why can't I hear the pages turn? It creates more practical problems in terms of audience understanding than it is worth. It is a great tool for avant garde films, but more commercial films have to appeal to a broader audience.
  4. The dolly shot has the effect of drawing the audience into a collective feeling of dread, like the world is coming down around us all as the maid slowly advances. With each step in our direction, the tension builds and we feel less in control. This is the perfect shot for this scene, because from the boys' perspective this woman has the power to destroy their life with a word. As the dolly moves, so does each second to the moment of truth, the resolution of anxious uncertainty. The one theme that struck me while watching the clip was how Hitchcock used music and dance to portray sexuality and seduction. In ​The Pleasure Garden​ the dancing chorus line on the stage were the fantasies of leering men made flesh. In The Ring​ the party with its wild dancing and music was a stand in for the boxer's imagined nightmare of having his rival fall into bed with his wife. Here in Downhill​ intercuts of a record player and dancing are used as the maid recalls her moments of seduction with the student.
  5. Expressive editing adds an element of chaos to this scene from The Ring​. Without the intercuts of the record player, the piano player, the exaggerated visions of the piano keys and dancers, we would be left with scenes from a party....with little comment on the feelings of the man in the other room. Perhaps we would have some shots of a squinted eye and dark grimace, but we would not feel his spiral into frenzied jealousy. I would say there is no subjective shot quite like that through a mirror. The mirror gives the boxer an a view of the party and his rival, but it also gives the viewer a portal into the boxer's mind. We enter the boxer's wild imagination through the mirror and we exit through the mirror into the reality his mindset brings into being, a fight for his marriage against the man he imagines can take her away. The intercuts during this scene are gradual at first, and speed up as the mental stakes of the hoboxer in the other room get higher and higher. A foreshadowing of the frenzied action to come comes in the form of two professional dancers, wildly performing the Charleston (?). Their movements are off putting at first in the middle of a room with men in tuxedos and women in eveningwear. As the action in the mind's eye of the boxer continues, the women continue to dance as his wife and his rival share a chair and conversation. We get our first cuts of the piano man, the record player. We cut to the face of the boxer as he imagines his wife in intimate conversation with his rival. The music gets more frantic. The party joins the female dancers, the cuts are faster and the images distorted. We are in the mind of a man in an anxious state of jealousy and fear. We understand his anxiety and we feel it with him.
  6. ​The opening scenes of The Pleasure Garden and The Lodger​ from first glance, feel like different films. The tone is much different. From the opening shots (dance hall vs. woman screaming), to the subject matter (night of frivolity vs. serial murder). However, there is a constant theme in each, an audience. In the dance hall, we have a panning close-up shot of the front row of male audience members. In the streets of London, we have an evolving audience from eye-witnesses, reporters, newspaper press operators, and finally patrons of the press. There is a constant of voyeurism. The one element of Hitchcock style" that struck me was the director's use of color. Scenes portrayed as outside were tinted blue. Scenes inside were tinted yellow. This element made the audience member perceive the scenes differently. The blue scenes were mostly active, with much movement and action that move the narrative forward (the witness retelling her story at the coffee cart, the truck delivering papers, the public reading a lighted ticker tape). While the yellow scenes were mostly passive, with people listening, writing, typing, and the active elements being performed by machinery (teletype and printing press). Another element that I appreciated was exposition through printed word, through the printing of the teletype and rolling text of the ticker tape. The opening shot of this film is a woman screaming. While we can not hear her screams, we feel them through the movement of her mouth, the off kilter angle of her face, and her gaze off camera. The flashing of the words, "To-Night Golden Curls" is also very off putting, adding to the unease of the moment.
  7. I do see some elements of the "Hitchcock touch" in this opening scene of The Pleasure Garden (1925). What struck me the most was that innovative shot of Patsy Brand from the perspecitive of the male audience member. Seeing her in a blur without the monocle, a more focused blur, and finally in perfect clarity through the binoculars, we leer at her. And than, just as we grow uncomfortable at the intimacy, Patsy feels his attention and its intent and reacts. Its like a sequence from "Rear Window" or "Dial M for Murder", where the director makes us understand the scene by putting us in the shoes of the characters on each side. For the second question, do I agree with Strauss, Yocowar, and Spoto? 100%. There are classic silent film elements to the picture, an amusing pan of the men in the front row, a chorusline of girls, obvious villains in the form of theives. However, each element has a certain spin to it that is unmistakablely Hitchcock. For example, the last "man" in the front row is a napping woman. The focus of the scene is not the lead chorus girl, but a member of the line. The theives think they are taking cash, but instead steal the only thing in the purse that is worthless to everyone except the purses' owner. Every detail is richer and can be explored as a story on its own. Silent Film. The shot with the binoculars and the audiencemember/ Patsy Brand did not suffer from a lack of dialogue, that is for certain. It didn't need it. The intent was skillfully expressed without words. I would say, that the lack of words most likely pushed Hitcock and other silent film directors to innovate the story telling process. How else to express the feelings of the moment and get beyond the "naive sentiments", as Hitchcock called them, of the spoken title cards?
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