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Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #5: Heard About the Murder? (Scene from Blackmail)

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1. In this sequence, describe how Hitchcock uses sound design to put you into the subjective "mind of Alice"? Be specific.  


The repetitious "knife" said by the loquacious friend was the immediate thing that intrigued me to this movie.  The creepy tone added to it with the silence in between only emphasize poor Alice's scattered head.  In addition to this, the abrupt silence when closing the telephone booth's door and the immediate emergence of talking again once it is opened reinstate the subjective use of sound design to further empathize Alice's emotions to the audience.  


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. 


As the word "knife" is the only emphasized word heard by Alice (and us, for that matter), the gradual increase of volume initiates suspense and apprehension.  When the word is said for the last time, it is screamed in an eerie shriek that would make anyone jump out of their skin.  As mentioned before, the phone booth's opening and closing of its door also does much to keep us solely within Alice's mind.


3. Why do you think this particular use of subjective sound is not used frequently in cinema? 


A possible reason why subjective sound is not frequently used could be because it's seen as a distraction (to some viewers).  While I believe it adds to the awareness of the film, it could be seen as intrusive or unnecessary to others.


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