Questions surrounding Hitchcock

Consider what field best contextualises your practice:

Cinema and the practices involved in film best contextualise my practice.

Do you have a hero in your field? If not, find one by researching into the field you identify with. (Your hero does not necessarily have to relate to your practice or your field. She/ he can be someone you admire deeply.

Alfred Hitchcock,

Describe his/ her practice/ work.

Hitchcock was a director, screenwriter and producer. His ability to produce incredible psychological stress on the viewer is what made his work so unique and challenged the current films of the time.

“Hitchcock manipulated time, space and the viewer, and critics didn’t know what to make of it.”

(Thompson A, 2015 quote in IndieWire)

His ability to create emotion through motif, camera angles and emotion of the actor is what draws me to his work. He manipulates feeling and this is just as critical within documentaries and activist cinema.

Describe how his/ her practice is situated in a larger field. For example, are they pioneers in what they do? Or perhaps their works challenge the conventional ways of thinking or working? Or they are recognised as being excellent in their fields?

Hitchcock was definitely a pioneer, however, he drew inspiration from other filmmakers, for example, society director “Kuleshov created what is known as “The Kuleshov Effect”: it cut the same blank facial expression of an actor with a variety of images.” (Mott, P n.d.) but he was known for his style of suspense in films. 

Hitchcock understood how the audiences mind works and wonders. he said that in some films they create visual statements, which forces the audiences to think a particular way however he wanted the audience’s mind to wander and create a suggestive meaning rather than an objective meaning. He controls the anxieties of the viewer as he plays with times. (youtube video)  Hitchcock used a subtle dramatic irony but then doesn’t give any more information away. This successfully creates suspense.

Find out more about them: What are his/ her skills started with? What may be some of their failures?

“Draftsman and advertising designer for the cable company Henley’s….“film industry with a full-time position at the Famous Players-Lasky Company designing title cards for silent films. Within a few years, he was working as an assistant director..” (Biography, Alfred Hitchcock, n.d.) Hitchcock’s childhood also played an important role in his films. The strict upbringing he had morphed into bizarre situations within his film e.g. in psycho when the lady stands at the end of the bed?

“I made a cardinal error there in terms of suspense. The bomb should never have gone off. If you build an audience up to that point, the explosion becomes strangely anti-climactic” (Hitchcock). Hitchcock said in an interview that the explosion was an anticlimax to the suspense he was building. Although this may not be an actual ‘failure’, it’s an experiment within film techniques, with what works best.

What are some of the hurdles they overcame (or not)? How has he/ she contributed to his/ her field?

Hitchcock had various hurdles, from an obsessive nature behind the films to almost torturous methods to achieve the perfect shot on camera. Hitchcock technical obstacles too, gaining rights to films to narrative and storytelling themes.

writers on Hitchcock’s life, align some of the themes of sexual innuendo, murder and this fascination of suspense, with psychological issues.

obsession and cruelty to his actors were another issue where “Hedren arrived at the studio to find several cages full of furious starlings which were duly unleashed. They were then chained to her body and hurled at her by heartless crewmembers over not a couple of hours, but five full days. They pecked at her face relentlessly, leaving her covered in scars.”(Rampton J, 2012)

What is the most important thing for them that they ‘hold dear’? What is their core value that they never deviate from?

Storytelling, how the audience feels. His fixation on the technical aspects of filmmaking is what makes him such a successful filmmaker. Hitchcock’s understanding of the audiences psychological state, allowed him to manipulate their feelings through camera angles, montage and dialogue.

How do you relate to this core value?

I think it’s a necessity to create a film that either resonates with people so that people can empathise with it personally or scare people, so they can’t look away because they are so terrified. It is sometimes hard to create a suggestive film without forcing people to think or feel a particular way, but it makes a lot of sense because you unknowingly project your own thoughts and feelings into a film, not everyone is the same as you.

What are his/her working methods? How does he/she work? (e.g. Find out what his/her workplace/ workshop might look like.

his techniques: e.g. dolly zoom, suspense, montage, thrillers. 

His workplace was on set working with the camera crew producers and actors.  Hitchcock worked with a lot of people from screenwriters to producers, until he decided to produce his own films. He worked with actors and was often surrounded by people.

What is the ‘shape’ of their practice? (e.g. Peaks and troughs, successes and failures)

Hitchcock successes are from his most critically acclaimed films. Psycho, vertigo and north by north-west to mention a few, which was during the peak of his career in the middle of his life. His work declined dramatically towards the end of his life, and his mental state often created issues with actresses and production team. His psychotic nature and strange relationship with women which can be traced back to issues within his childhood, is what brought this incredible different take on thrillers and suspenseful murders seen in his work. 

References:

A Thompson, Aug 13, 2015, 4:59 pm, “Alfred Hitchcock’s Top 25 Films, Ranked” Indie Wire, viewed: Thursday 16th Mach 2017,   http://www.indiewire.com/2015/08/alfred-hitchcocks-top-25-films-ranked-184715/

Biography, n.d.“Alfred Hitchcock Biography” viewed: Thursday 16th March, http://www.biography.com/people/alfred-hitchcock-9340006#early-life

Mott, P n.d.’Alfred Hitchcock: Six Fundamentals of Good Suspense’ Atog viewed: Thursday 16th March 2017 http://www.aotg.com/index.php?page=suspense)

Rampton, J 2012, Obsession, the dark side of Alfred Hitchcock, viewed: 18th March 2017 http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/obsession-the-dark-side-of-alfred-hitchcock-8431033.html

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