Friday, October 3, 2014

Alfred Hitchcock: Defining Cinema as a Visual Medium

"It must always be remembered that the primary aim of pictures is to provide entertainment. To entertain people, one must first capture their interest." - Alfred Hitchcock

The name, Alfred Hitchcock, has sort of become a cliche, which is ironic because his filmmaking broke so many cliches by changing visual storytelling, specifically for psychological thrillers. Hitchcock, born in 1899, progressed filmmaking and influenced future films.

One piece of advice he said was, "Make your audience suffer, but give them pleasure. The same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare." For example, Rear Window shows the danger early but uses the entirety of the film to build suspense. It makes the audience uncomfortable as they imagine the characters getting caught or witnessing a murder. It's not until the end when Hitchcock manages a somewhat sweet ending by wrapping up all the characters. Miss Lonelyheart finds a man, the dancer's love comes home, and the couple who's dog died has a new one. Lisa, played by Grace Kelly, reads a travel magazine next to Jeff, played by Jimmy Stewart, who now has two broken legs instead of one. The audience goes through a tremendous amount of suffering and suspense in order to enjoy this somewhat happy ending.

Hitchcock implemented and created many different techniques to portray emotion and make the audience feel something. His stylistic close ups on facial expressions helps convey the characters' strong emotions. Hitchcock is also famous for his point of view shots he used to create suspense. Second-unit cameraman, Irmin Roberts, created the dolly zoom, or "Vertigo Effect," which is used in Vertigo. Watch the scene below:

Once sound was used in films, dialogue started being used really heavily. But Alfred Hitchcock defined cinema as a visual medium. He believed dialogue should only be used when the visuals can't communicate an idea. He says, "sometimes you find that a film is looked at solely for its content without any regard to the style or manner in which the story is told." He wanted to use the camera every chance he gets to reveal the story with visuals and objects.

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