Alfred Hitchcock King of Suspense

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Gangster Auteurs

In order to be a great author, you have to be able to show your originality from the other creators. Here, in the cinema field, more specifically in the Gangster genre you have to be able to impress the viewers, you have to make them entering a world that they never seen before and they have to believe that world. The atmosphere in a Gangster genre film is really interesting to analyze due to the author capacity to place an environment of fear, excitation, violence and inhumanity. The filmmaker’s goal is to make the viewers think about what they see, and how to interpret it. The violence of the images has the purpose to shock the viewers, to make them even more humans instead of identifying themselves to those characters.

Here, we are going to wonder how we can appreciate an author’s way of writing and how the viewers perceive it. We will see the great work of Alfred Hitchcock in Rear Window and North by Northwest and try to understand the meaning of his images.

Alfred Hitchcock is considered as the king of suspense. Indeed, critics have often said that Hitchcock is the least intellectual of filmmakers. The latter, however, reflected on his work and gave us an art of suspense that could prove as his cinematic art. The Mac Guffin is an original concept in Hitchcock’s movies. The origin of this word comes from an anecdote told by him. He used this story to mock those who demand a rational explanation and perfect consistency for all elements of a film. As a child, Alfred Hitchcock was a lonely boy full of imagination. What interests him is to manipulate the viewer and to make him as worried as the hero or heroine of his film. Hitchcock saw the movies for what they are, that is a spectacle and not a carbon copy of reality. So in order to keep in suspense the spectator, he explains “ you must establish the basic situation – with the characters, their personality in order to make these personages sympathetic to the public and informing the latter to prepare the suspense.” In North by Northwest, he establishes the basic situation by placing the plot in New York since the first scene of the movie. Then, the viewers feel sympathy for the protagonist of the story who finds himself trapped in the middle of a dangerous plot. The spectators are worried for him and anxious about Roger Thornill ’s future. The public participation is the result of complicity with the director. They know, way before Thornill that Kaplan does not exist and that the meeting in the Middle West plain is a trap. In fact, it seems paradoxical that this mise-en-scene results to emphasize the suspense. But if the spectator knows about it, the hero, himself, does not and that fact irritates the spectator who fears for the protagonist. In that way, Hitchcock can be designated as the “ king of suspense”. In Rear window, the mise-en-scene of the suspense is slightly different. Here the viewers do not know about the future of the story but they accompany Jeff the hero, in his investigation. For example, when Jeff suspects Thorwarld of having killed his wife, he calls him to meet the pretended murderer in a cafe. Lisa, Jeff’s girlfriend has just enough time to break into Thorwarld apartment and see if there are any proofs of the killing. Here, the viewers fear for Lisa because no one knows when he will be coming home. There is a tension that can be felt by the spectators, they are afraid that something will happen to the young lady. When Thorwarld comes back home and finds her in his apartment, the stressful atmosphere is at its highest point. Moreover, when Lisa finds his wife wedding ring and puts it on her finger, it is a double victory for her. Truffaut, the French filmmaker explains the situation well in his interview with Hitchcock : “she enters the apartment of the killer to find evidence against him and finds the alliance of his wife. If the woman was really on a trip, she would have worn her wedding ring”. Truffaut adds “ She puts...
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