Alfred Hitchcock: An Auteur with a Signature Style

Topics: Alfred Hitchcock, Film director, Police Pages: 4 (1461 words) Published: June 11, 2002
What is an auteur? Answer this question with detailed reference to one film director: Alfred Hitchcock

Studies of the Auteur Theory in film have often looked toward Alfred Hitchcock as an ideal auteur: an artist with a signature style who leaves his own mark on every work he creates. According to the theory, it does not matter whether or not the director writes his own films, because the film will reflect the vision and the mind of the director through the choices he makes in his film. In the case of Hitchcock's earliest films when he was still under the control of his producers, there is still a distinct stamp upon these images. Hitchcock has said that he was influenced by the German Expressionists, and admired their ability "to express ideas in purely visual terms". It is this expression of thought and psychology that Hitchcock achieves throughout his films, even early on. Even the psychology that is in the films can be particularly a signature of Hitchcock - critics have found throughout his films a fascination with wrongful accusation and imprisonment. They are present in even his earliest films. A particular sequence of Hitchcock's 1935 film The 39 Steps bears the mark of Hitchcock through the visual expression of the fear of wrongful accusation and confinement.

In the shot before the sequence, we see the crofter asking his wife what has happened to his coat, as it had his hymnbook in the pocket. She, offscreen, tells him that she gave the coat to Hannay. The crofter angrily walks offscreen toward her, and we hear her terrified scream - this scream suddenly becomes the sheriff's offscreen laughter, as the next shot is of the hymnbook with the bullet hole in it. From the beginning of the sequence, Hitchcock transmits the feeling that there is something not quite right about the sheriff. As the scene in the police station begins, Hannay has just finished telling the sheriff that he is the one that the papers have been describing as a murderer, but...

Bibliography: "The 39 steps" by Mark Glancy
"Hitchcock on hitchcock" by Sidney Gottlieb
"The Alfred Hitchcock story" by Ken Mogg
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