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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 Alice is troubled but trying to go through her day as she normally would. Her family and neighbor notice she is not quite herself but do not know why. The chatty neighbor unnerves Alice with her constant talk about the murder. When she enters the phone booth she is cut off from the rest of the world, but seeing the word police jars her back to realty and only reminds her of the crime she has committed. Then as the family begins to eat their breakfast the neighbor prattles on. Alice can only focus on the word knife, the rest of the conversation is not important. The word knife is accusing, jabbing her in a sense and she feels every prick a little deeper with each mention of the word knife.

 

2. As the neighbor continues to talk while Alice's family is eating breakfast, Alice is only hearing the word knife over and over. It is like an accusation in her head. The word knife gets louder and she is trying to handle the knife and you can see and feel her anxiety grow. Until the word knife is so loud she throws the knife and we the audience get a jolt making us jump.

 

3. Today the mood of a scene is often achieved by the music in a scene. Hitchcock used this effect with the music used in Psycho during the shower scene. And we all remember the music during the first shark attack in Jaws. In Blackmail there is no background music so the actors expressions convey the tension and the use of sound  conveys Alice's thoughts.

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I love Blackmail, and even wrote a paper for a recent film class comparing the silent and sound versions, including analysis of the scene shown in the Daily Dose.  (I highly recommend seeing both versions)

1. As referenced in the video lecture, the audio is filtered/distorted to be Alice's 'point-of-listening' (similar to point-of-view, but aural), to make it subjective, immersing the audience in Alice's thoughts.  She is pre-occupied with the prior evening's events, and thus her thoughts can only be penetrated by the one word heard which is relatable - 'knife'.  To hear it repeatedly pounds the point into her, building her anxiety until she snaps - physically throwing her knife, psycho-spasmodically to 'eliminate' her guilt.

2. While the visual of the scene shows Alice slow in motion, and introspective, the subjective audio, in combination with the audience knowledge of the prior evening activities, build tension in Alice and the viewer as the repetitive reference to the knife remind her and threaten to reveal her anxiety.  The visual stays locked on Alice, (with only one cut to bring the shot in a bit tighter on Alice), to focus audience attention and empathy with her.  It may have also been a technical necessity/restriction to minimize the number of shots/edits, to maintain the continuous audio of the customer's prattling about the murder.  (Per my paper, this sound version sequence uses five shots, whereas the silent version, uses ten - excluding title cards.  It is also shot and blocked completely differently.)

3. This method of subjective audio ("point-of-listening") likely is not used frequently as it is really only effective when applied to put an audience into a character's experience, to relate to the character's conflict.  It defeats the purpose if overused or not applied to audience engagement.

 

I wish the lecture would have also mentioned that Hitchcock creatively 'live dubbed' Anny Ondra's dialogue - she had a Czech accent - by having Joan Barry speak Ondra's lines during the scene, to record her dialogue with the other character's lines, while Ondra lip-synched to Barry's speech.  They didn't have the ability to mix the single-track audio in post.  Amazing.

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Alice is clearly in trouble mentally and emotionally, and with the lack of a musical track, Hitchcock's use of conversation, tonal variations, sound effects (store bell ringing) convey her distress possibly better than any music track could. We're so accustomed today to having music tracks guide our viewing of a film--and our emotions and feelings about it. Movie soundtracks are their own industry (revenue, awards, etc.) so I'm guessing that this has a lot to do with the fact that we don't see this kind of cinematic device anymore. But in Blackmail, (which I haven't seen yet, but will this week on TCM) our subjective view of Alice is driven by the mundane - talking, her very good acting, and manipulating the sound qualities of the conversation. It's effect is so subtle as you watch Alice's distress in her face and movement, until boom! the store customer is babbling and all Alice (and we) hear is the word "knife." How brilliant Hitchcock is with specifically the talk of the knife as the father asks Alice to cut a piece of bread. Can't help but jump when the sole word "knife" is literally screamed out. Fantastic.

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Hitchcock's use of sound, & silence, is great.  First, when Alice is obviously upset & preoccupied & she enters the phone booth.  In the background you hear the gossip going on & on about the murder, but she's silent as soon as Alice closes the booth's door.  The silence then transports the audience into Alice's mind.  You can feel the tension, & anxiety by the expressions on her face & the rest of her body language.  Next, when she's at the breakfast table & the gossip is still going on & on about the murder, Alice's anxiety is intensified by the only word that she, & the audience, are hearing the gossip say: "...blah, blah, blah, KNIFE, blah, blah, blah, KNIFE, blah, blah, blah..."  After a while, it's almost as if Alice is lulled by the sound until the gossip says "KNIFE" a bit louder than before which startles Alice so much that the knife she's holding flies out of her hand.  Alice is obviously anxious & tense about something, & having a difficult time holding her emotions together.  

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1. Sound and the subjective mind - the word "knife" is clearly repeated while the rest of the conversation seems almost like jibberish. This is punctuated by the ringing bell, All the while Alice is becoming increasingly preoccupied and yet focused on the word until she grasps the blade. We see the scene explode as the word "knife" is yelled and the blades flies off the table as if possessed of Alice's inner thoughts.

 

2. Mundane activities like having breakfast or shopping are enveloped by the repetition of the word "knife" and the punctuation of Alice's guilt by the ringing bell. There is no music to build an emotion tone. There is only Alice who seems to be drifting in and out of what is happening around her.

 

3. Subjective Sound - films moved to using music to convey emotional tone of scenes. The viewer needs to invest more...pay closer attention...because the subjective sounds paint the inner emotion of the character and help frame the action between characters. I can see where this technique can be exhausting if over-used or a distraction in complicated stories with many characters. It is also subjective on the viewer's part. We each might place different emphasis on a reaction, gesture or look. Music moves all viewers in unison and in that regard, the director is controlling our understanding of that character's inner mind.

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1. Hitchock's use of sound puts you in the subjective mind of Alice because you are hearing what she (with her guilt about the night before) would be hearing. The repetition of the word "KNIFE", punctuated by moments of silence (in the phone booth) and sound (the jarring bell ringing for the customer) helps to add to the uneasiness that Alice (and the audience) would be feeling, given the previous night's activities. 

 

2. Focus on the gossipy customer, whose story starts moving towards every second word being "knife". Move to Alice at the table, staring off into the distance. Sound focus on "knife", that particular word being louder than the rest of the lines the gossipy customer is saying. Alice picks up the bread knife. Her father asks her to cut the bread. All the while she is hearing a steady drum of "knife, knife, knife" until suddenly "KNIFE" sounding like it was screamed. Knife jumps out of Alice's hand and startles everyone.

 

The slow build up adds the effectiveness of the suspense of the scene.

 

3. As was previously stated by many other members of this forum, I think that music cues and dialogue are more frequently used to give scenes this effect. 

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Alice's distress increases as thoughts of the murder fill her mind; she is distracted and withdrawn mentally from the events occurring around her.  The audience enters Alice's mind and only hears what Alice hears.  We see her anguished face as the customer's talk about the murder knife reinforces her thoughts; the only word she comprehends is "knife", the volume increasing at each repetition. 

The shot shows a close-up of the knife in Alice's hand, the volume of the word, "knife" rises nearly to a shriek, and a sudden cut to a wide-shot shows Alice tossing the knife into the air in response. Along with her parents at the table, the audience is startled by this action.

 

The subjective viewpoint is rarely used in film or in drama.  Why? Shakespeare used soliloquies to present a character's thoughts, but how many scenario writers can reach the depth of a character's mind found in the Bard? Eugene O'Neill used the technique in Strange Interlude, but even he mostly presented a character's thoughts in the form of two person conversations, not as soliloquies.  Secondly, not many writers and directors can achieve the effect with the mastery of Hitchcock, and the use of subjective viewpoints by lesser talents would probably soon become a movie cliche that would confuse or bore the viewer. 

 

To see the subjective camera in action, try Lady in the Lake (1947). Robert Montgomery stars and directs a murder mystery based on a novel by Raymond Chandler.  The entire film is shot from the viewpoint of Montgomery's character, Phillip Marlowe.  Director Montgomery thrusts the camera into the faces of his characters who tell him, very earnestly, all about the missing Muriel and Crystal. The film gains nothing by the use of the subjective viewpoint, the viewer does not gain any increased knowledge about the characters and their motivations, and the gimmick becomes tiresome.  A better director might have done more with it, but it's a gimmick and no more. 

 

 

 

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With regard to being in the "mind of Alice" I was struck by how childlike Alice is by her only hearing her trigger word, or, the word that brings her dread--knife. All of the conversation becomes little more than unintelligible murmurings with the word KNIFE! literally cutting (sorry about the pun) through the audio murk in Alice's head.

Doubtless the knife flying out of her hand was intended to illicit shock from a 1929 audience; it is the nearly 90 years of film making that has come after "Blackmail" that led me to expect the knife to make such a sudden noise. Indeed I would have been disappointed if the knife had not flown from Alice's hand.

The reason the use of subjective sound is not used frequently in films is you are repeating audio wise what was shown visually. It is unnecessary.

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Hitch sets up the sound design of BLACKMAIL in a realistic way.  Before Alice enters the room, the woman’s voice is quieter and more muffled, but as Alice opens the door and enters, the woman’s voice is louder and the words understandable.   Then, when Alice enters the phone booth and shuts its door, the woman’s voice again fades, then comes back when Alice exits the phone booth.

 

Now, when the family sits down to breakfast and the woman is still rambling on about a knife, we go into a close-up of Alice, emphasizing her far-off stare, indicating her inward focus, and it’s at this point Hitch switches to a subjective sound design in counterpoint to the visuals.  Hitch the tilts down to just a close-up of Alice’s hand getting the knife, narrowing our focus visually, while also narrowing our focus aurally, muffling all the woman’s words except “knife”, lulling us almost into a hypnotic trance.  Visually the tension and suspense is ratcheted up by Alice’s shaking, fidgeting hand holding the knife, and by using the sound design and acting to bring up the last utterance of “knife” to a scream, in combination with Alice’s jumping and throwing the knife, we are startled out of our trance and even physically respond to Hitch’s techniques almost 90 years after the fact.

 

Subjective use of sound is still used in cinema (If I remember correctly, an example might be the opening scene of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.), but I think most moviegoers today are accustomed to a more realistic portrayal of action on screen.  Subjective sound design, or visual design, tends to take you out of the story more often than not, I think. 

 

Not sure if anyone's mentioned it yet, but here's Hitch talking to Truffaut about Blackmail's production, and in particular the "knife" scene.  SPOILER WARNING if you haven't seen the film yet.  

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1. The use of sound in the jarring repitition of "knife" serves as a constant reminder to Alice of what happened and makes her relive the experience over and over again. I thought that the brief scene when she was in the phone booth, cut off from any sound, left her alone in her thoughts, and was very effective.

2. The constant repitition of "knife", which is much louder than any other word (and like they mentioned in the lecture video, I had a time understanding the gossipy lady), just reinforces the horror. And the second bell for the customer near the end of the snippet is loud and prolonged, like the bell ringing in a boxing match. Alice's dropping of the knife when she hears the word "knife" extra loud, is almost like a spit take.

3. Modern cinema is constant, blaring sound, with little subjectivity about it. Things are more explicit and less subtle nowadays.

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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.  

As the gossip goes on and on, her voice fades and the only sound is what Alice hears, KNIFE

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. 

Close up on Alices face showing emotion via facial expressions and the most audible sound is KNIFE

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

Other venues for building suspense and building to climax are used such as music 

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I love Blackmail, and even wrote a paper for a recent film class comparing the silent and sound versions, including analysis of the scene shown in the Daily Dose.  (I highly recommend seeing both versions)

 

I have read that the two versions have no footage in common. Any truth to that?

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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.

 

I think we consistently hear what Alice hears. Specifically, the silence in the phone booth, the mumbling mixed in with "knife" repeatedly, the jingle of the customers.

 

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.

 

We get the mumbling between statements of "knife," followed by the loud exclamation of "knife" with a fast cut. We don't seem to actually see the knife move really. It kind of reminds me of the shower scene in Psycho, how many people state penetration occurs when in fact it doesn't. In that case, its more the music used with the editing as opposed to "knife!"

 

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

 

I'm not sure that it isn't used. I think we can frequently hear what a certain character hears - a POV audio if you will. Such as when a character tries to remember pieces of a surprise ending, such as in Fight Club or the Usual Suspects, as the previous scenes return in quick cuts to show the big reveal. It's just more complex than a simple word of "knife" probably because it isn't always necessary, and in those examples, we are seeing a great deal visually (and not just subjective audio). The Conversation and Blow Up (such as the final scene) may be better examples, so I'm not sure I agree with the question.

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Hitchcock's use of sound design puts us into Alice's mindset not by making us hear what she would actually have heard - i.e., the sounds that would have been physically hitting her eardrums as they occurred in the real (cinematic) world - but by making us hear what a guilty conscience would hear. The gossipy neighbor wasn't literally shouting, "KNIFE" much louder than the rest of her dialogue, but, with murder on her mind, that is the word our protagonist singles out.

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Hello, all - 

 

Blackmail.  Such a dirty word, don't you think?  I prefer, let's say, making a business transaction beneficial to both of us...

 

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

    

    Very nicely down whilst on a c/u of Alice. We hear the word "knife" most clearly, while everything else being said is muffled.  It is the repeat of the word knife, that comes closer and closer together, that culminates with the knife flying out of Alice's hand and brings Alice out of her thoughts and back into the scene.

 

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. 

 

One of the things I liked right off was the fact I first thought the sound was too low, but then Alice opened the door and the sound raised as Alice entered the shop.  It then went away when Alice enters the phone booth.  When she enters it is shop talk as usual, then called into breakfast, the female customer stays as the family sits down to breakfast and prattles on about the previous evenings murder.  We start entering Alice's mind as the camera pans over to a close-up of Alice, and the words of the customer become muffled except for the word "Knife".  This is interrupted by her father asking her to cut the bread. The sound then goes back to muffling the female customer's dialogue except for the word "knife" as the camera pans down to the loaf and Alice's hand (slightly shaking) picking up and rotating the large bread knife until the shop edge is down.  All of a sudden, the customer's voice says "knife!" the way we would say "boo!" to surprise someone.  Startled, Alice's suddenly tossed the knife out of her hand.

 

 

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

 

a.  Today's soundtracks are multi-layered, although in saying that it should be easier, so I can only conclude a

 

b. Lack of imagination on the Director/Soundperson's part  (the sound person should have suggested it to the Director if the Director was the sort that welcomed such things)

 

I watched Hitchcock's "Rear Window" last night and noticed at one point the music was playing from the nearby apartment and the characters (played by Jimmy Stewart/Grace Kelly) remark on it.  Then you ONLY hear the music until you cut to the large apartment window of the pianist, there is a party going on and NOW we hear not only the music but the chatter of the guests.  Very effective and shows just how much having knowledge of the different aspects of film-making helps the director create a scene.  

 

all for #5.  - 

Walter

 

p.s. Number five is alive.

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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. 


I like how he has the gossiper mumble, perhaps, and only state the word "knife" so that we see that Alice is only focusing on that word.  The final time that the gossiping shopper states knife, it is so loud that Alice jumps as she is taking the knife to cut the bread and it slips from her fingers.   


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 I stated above, it is set up very nicely where we see her become increasingly unsettled at each time the shopper states knife.  The lighting around Alice also becomes darkened so that we focus on her behavior and see that she is becoming nervous and agitated.  You can see that she is not paying attention to the conversation but rather only registering it partially.


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


The subjective sound is perhaps not used frequently due to the funny dialogue that it creates.  It doesn't appear as if anything is actually being said but rather just mumbles.  It doesn't flow as easily as it should.


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1.  Hitchcock begins placing us in the subjective mind of Alice using sound from the very beginning.  As Alice approaches the door, the dialogue is muffled; when she opens it the dialogue is heard clearly.  Then when she goes in the phone booth the dialogue disappears completely, only to reappear when the door opens.  To this point, everything is practical.  This is Hitchcock flexing his technical muscle on his first sound film.  When Alice is holding the knife, it becomes more subliminal, as Alice begins to focus only on the word knife.  Imagine being in the audience, viewing a movie with audible dialogue for the first time.  That last cry of "Knife!" must have made everybody gasp.   

 

2.  I have not seen the silent version of this movie, so I don't know how that version may differ.  So I viewed this clip first with the sound on, then off.  (This is a fun thing to do in a lot of Hitch movies/scenes, by the way.  Have you ever watched the shower scene from Psycho without Bernard Herrmann's score?  Much creepier!)   The camera stays on her face as she is hearing the dialogue, and her expression is not overly-emotive, she is internalizing her thoughts, which makes me think it was shot specifically with sound in mind.  Then the camera focuses on the hand holding the knife, which is trembling, ever so slightly.  Meanwhile, the word knife is being used more frequently and growing louder, until the final cry, that I must say startled me even today!  This scene foreshadows another scene that Hitchcock will shoot a few years later involving a woman and a knife (American actress Sylvia Sidney, in Sabotage). 

 

3.  Subjective sound is not used frequently because the sound palette is much more dense and layered now than it was, and is often used in very broad strokes.  (Sweeping musical scores that "tell" us how to feel, sound effects that overwhelm.)  There is much more subjectivity on screen than coming from the speakers these days.  There are some exceptions:  David Fincher is one contemporary director who has used sound (or lack of sound) very cleverly in several films.  

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Hi Everyone,

1. Alice hears only one word of the gossiping woman: "Knife" and it gets louder and louder in her head until she jumps and tosses the knife.

The bells announcing a new customer is loud yet Alice has to be told someone has come i to the store; her mind is focused elsewhere.

2. The sound of the woman speaking fades in and put as we watch Alice's facial expressions change as she only hears the word "knife".

When the man mentions "murder", Alice demeanor is guarded & withdrawn as she answers w/ a shallow voice.

Despite all the movement and talking around her in the store, Alice is about to cut the bread; yet she is in her own world & Hitchcock uses sound & action to draw The audience into her thoughts of fear.

3. I'm not sure. Perhaps nowadays directors or not as savvy as Hitchcock was in drawing the audience into the minds of the character without using the obvious techniques. He uses images and sound that may or may not necessarily associate with what the character is doing in the scene. Like he said, I'm paraphrasing here, "Johnny fast life"; " Hitch would show a candle butning at both rnds to denote this.

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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.  

 

Items that remind Alice of the murder seem to keep popping up as a spoken word, such as knife and the word murder itself. 

 

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. 

 

When one of the women keep saying the word knife, it keeps stabbing, if you will, at Alice's mind as a trigger of the murder. Then once it is said one time too many, the knife flies out of her hand. When she looked into the phone book for a number to the police, once she saw the listing, she thought twice and closed the book and left the phone booth. It seemed as though she is trying to forget what happened previously but there are triggers that are making her remember. 

 

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

It seems as though songs are being used more these days to remind a character of a past event than a sound (wind chime, fan, etc.). Soundtracks for a character just makes them seem less personable and less relate-able.  

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Hitchcock uses sound design to put you into the subjective "mind of Alice" by having it 'annoy' you.
It seemed the rambling 'British' brick loving female customer was gnawing on Alice's (and the audience's) nerves which seemed to already be frayed.
Alice seemed to be in shock (possible P.T.S.D.) and the woman's very voice was monotonous.
Alice's only escape from the woman's voice was when all became silent in the phone booth as she looked at the phone number for the Police.
The 'British' female customer's voice wasn't only annoying in 'sound' but also in context; murder.
This is where the sound design of this scene operates in counterpoint to the visual track.
On and on about muder she casually kept talking as they went to sit down for breakfast even.
Talking about how a brick is more 'British' a murder weapon than a knife.
Then comes the use of the word 'Knife'.
Hitchcock stabbed you with the word.
Over and over.
The way the woman said it was deliberate.
Increasing in aggression n speed.
She said knife over and over so many times it was as if she stabbed Alice's nerves through to the marrow when she finaly shouted 'Knife' making Alice throw it out of terror at the breakfast table.
It wasn't until the customer 'bell' rang that anything could snap her out of her spell.
This particular use of subjective sound is not used frequently in cinema because a) sound was new then so it so Hitchcock used it in a stylish wicked way and B) in 'today's' cinema, even with the use of DOLBY and IMAX 'sound' is used mainly as a visual tool's aid.
I really enjoyed this lesson.
I do hip-hop music for fun so 'words' literally are used as weapons quite often.
This was a treat to see Htichcock use it first.
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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

Alice’s selective-hearing (or point of view listening) allows us to realize that she is preoccupied with the murder.  The word “knife”, for instance, is repeated frequently and penetrates louder and more distinctly from unintelligible gossiping of a female customer until Alice is overcome with anxiety/panic, causing her to throw the knife. Hitchcock also powerfully used silence - the phone booth scene - to capture Alice's effort to clear her head and tamp-down her rising anxiety.

 

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 uses a close-up of Alice’s facial expressions to provide insight and empathy into her emotional state as the word “knife” is repeatedly mentioned, and she is ironically asked by her father to cut the loaf of bread.  As she reluctantly picks up the knife with shaky hands, the work “knife” grows louder in volume, more distinct from what else is being said, and sharper in tone until the final “KNIFE!” is practically shouted and the knife goes flying out of her hand in a sudden reflex motion.

 

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

I think advances in recording sound and the complete musical scoring of films is the cause for subjective sound being infrequently utilized today.  Musical scores and special effect sounds are now integral in creating a lot of the emotional context for films, and it is usually done very well with often lasting effects.  The scoring of Jaws is a prime example; many of us opted for swimming in pools vs. in the ocean the summer that movie first came out...  

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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 fact that at the dinner table she keeps hearing the word Knife, Knife , Knife over and over again.

 

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

 

There is the nervous tension and build up with Alice hearing knife, knife, knife that the knife flies out of her hand because she is so overcome with something involving a knife as it appears it is all every single person around her is talking about.

 

When she goes into the phone booth you see the frantic look on her face and its complete silence, when she comes out we hear sound.

 

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

 

 

It can be used to set the tone for the scene via the music's tone.  It can also scare and shock.

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Way, way behind, but I still want to contribute...

 

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

 

The first thing that grabbed my attention was the way sound/voice was "muted" once Alice gets inside the phone booth. It might seem a bit gimmicky, but put in the context of the times, it's pretty interesting to see how Hitchcock would experiment with this "new" tool: sound. It helps you feel Alice's guilt, perhaps isolating herself from everything around her, as she tries to decide whether to call the police or not.

 

Another thing that continues through the clip is how it helps with the "game" of sound to have a character like the neighbor, constantly talking and talking and talking. I mean, the woman literally didn't shut up. And her voice is what Hitchcock uses to play with sound through the clip. For example, with the way he emphasizes the word "knife" in the conversation, while the rest of her voice remains a mumble. Again, it accentuates Alice's guilt hearing the word again and again.

 

The arrival of the customers, announced by the bell, also helps pull the audience towards that. In a startling, "Who is it?" kinda way. Particularly with the final bell, which is accentuated differently as the camera focuses on her face.

 

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.

 

First, it focuses on Alice's face while the voice of the neighbor remains in the background. Second, the word "knife" is highlighted and heightened as Alice takes the knife. Third, the word "knife" is repeated almost rhytmically, except for the last one, which comes a bit delayed; a second or two after you probably expect it. Finally, that last "knife" is louder to obviously accentuate the shock and the scare, and the camera instantly pulls out to a wider shot of the room.

 

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

 

I'm not sure I understand the question. There are tons of films that nowadays use the "deafening" effect (particularly after an explosion) to put the audience in the mind of the victim (example: Saving Private Ryan) or the "ethereal" voice from "beyond" to convey the idea of a memory or someone not here talking. But if I were to fancy a guess, I think that most directors rely more on visuals to project "subjectivity".

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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 sound of the constantly talking woman visibly is increasing the anxiety of Alice.


When Alice enteres the phone booth she temporarily experiences quiet and relief of the constant talking - maybe she can think clearly and call the police - but for some reason she exits and immediately resumes hearing the never ending monologe the woman.


The emphasis on the word knife (and de-emphasis on the woman's other words) - and the number of times the woman apparently says it - builds upon Alice's anxiety. the final utterance of knife is like a shriek that startles the viewer s well as Alica dn cause her to lose control, almost flinging the knife out of her hand.


The bell announcing yet another customer that needs to be attended to adds to the sound distractions Alice is already dealing with.


 


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. 


The visitor/neighbor woman does not stop talking throughout the scene so Alice is constantly hearing about the murder. You can see it is heightening her anxiety - it even drives her to the phone booth where she no longer hears the voice and briefly looks like she may make a call to the police (because she has some peace and quiet to think more clearly?). Also the emphasis on the word knife in the never ending monologue of the woman - knife is louder and the rest of her words are noticeably muffled out). It''s constant, rythematic. The final utterance of knife is louder and almost like a shriek - it startles us and I guess Alice -  causing Alice to lose control of the bread knife.


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


Not sure but maybe its too subtle. I know I have heard it in a few other films but not too many. Maybe not flashy enough special effect?


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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.  

 

When Alice sits down at the table the camera just stops and looks at her, and from this point on we are inside her mind and can only pick up one word over and over again KNIFE 

 

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 gets louder and louder from a lady who has a very sharp British accent and almost sounds like a knife the way how sharp she is speaking. Till Alice throws the knife, like she can no longer stand it. When she walks up to the counter to help a customer one of the first words we here from him is Murder. When she walks back to the table and sits we again go back into her mind and by now you can tell she is drained emotionally and physically then we here the sound of a bell ring which sounds almost as sharp as a knife as she stairs into the camera.

 

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

Back then sound was new to cinema so Hitchcock tried to use it for his advantage as a new idea and a new aspect of suspense. When radio at this time only had sound and they made a way to make sound sound funny or scary or suspenseful but now Hitchcock had audio and visual to play with.

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