Hitchcock's Artistry

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Hitchcock’s Artistry:
A Result From His Three-Act Structure Deviation
“The three act structure is nothing less than a cheap security blanket for the most insecure industry in the world” (StoryDept). The quote above expresses the limitations of storytelling and creativity in film as a result of the tendency to follow the three-act story structure. Briefly, the three-act structure consists of an act I, act II, and act III in which there is a conflict created through an inciting incident, intensified antagonism for the hero, and a final climax ending in resolution. Though the three-act story structure is an effective way to recount a story, the process also proves to be artistically stifling. Historically, there have been directors who challenged the structural constraints of the three-act structure including: Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, and Akira Kurosawa. However, perhaps no one has challenged the three-act structure as well as legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock’s genius results from his incredible ability to craft stories that both mimic the classical three-act structure and break structure simultaneously. Through examination of two of his most famous works, Vertigo and Psycho, Hitchcock’s artistry of breaking the three-act structure to intensify shock value and his individual creativity is revealed. In Vertigo, Hitchcock displayed his resistance to the three-act structure by introducing a very complex plot line. In fact, the plot line was far too intricate to be told within the structured three-acts. Instead, the film followed a structure that, when interpreted, seems to exhibit a five-act structure. The first three acts take up until the 77th minute of the 130 minute movie. In Act I, the inciting incident is the rooftop chase in which Scottie develops vertigo and the climax of the act is his decision to take on the job of following Madeleine. Act II consists of rising actions including all of the time Scottie spends...
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