This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Hitchcock The Master Of Suspense Essay

3279 words - 14 pages

The Master of Suspense

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was indeed one of the most iconic and influential film directors in the history of the medium as well as being internationally recognizable throughout his life. This paper delves into his earlier works, concentrating on his narrative elements such as the MacGuffin technique, the likeable antagonist, the innocent man or woman whom is falsely accused or misunderstood, and the act of balancing suspense and tragedy with humor and comedy. From a stylistic standpoint the paper conveys Hitchcock’s profound use of atmosphere and landscape, song as a suspense device, landscape of crowd caricatures, and point-of-view technique. Looking at The 39 ...view middle of the document...

The MacGuffin can be added to mean anything. Because Hitchcock was able to allure the viewers to a significant amount of empathy for the characters through other methods, the dilemma or conflict grew to be quite trivial. “The main thing I’ve learned over the years is that the MacGuffin is nothing. I’m convinced of this, but I find it very difficult to prove it to others”-Alfred Hitchcock (Truffaut, p.139). This became a recurring theme throughout Hitchcock’s career. In The Lady Vanishes (1938), the MacGuffin is the encoded tune memorized by Miss Froy. There are subtle hints to it over the course of the film but it is never said outright until the end. The audience only wants to know the mystery of how or why Miss Froy disappeared, not about some secret musical tune. In Saboteur (1940), it is the secret plot to destroy a military naval ship. Neither the audience nor characters know what the secret is but the plot is driven by it throughout.
Hitchcock regularly portrayed his antagonists to be appealing, likeable adversaries without the usual unsophisticated and malevolent traits audiences were used to seeing in the run-of-the-mill villain. The viewers were sometimes torn between wanting them to be brought to justice and secretly hoping that in the end they would get away with their dastardly plans. Hitchcock believed that the villain and the hero are not always evidently different and in many ways may be the same. “What it boils down to is that villains are not all black and heroes are not all white; there are grays everywhere.”-Hitchcock (Truffaut, p.153). A prime example of this is Joseph Cotten’s portrayal of the titular character Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt. What sets this apart from Hitchcock’s other films, with the exception of Psycho, is that the central figure of the story is also the villain. We are introduced to Uncle Charlie and immediately fall in love with him. He is refined, charming and even though there may be something mysterious about him the audience cannot help but be attracted to his polished and warm demeanor towards his young niece and her family. This attraction lasts even after he is found out to be the one murdering all the old widows because the viewer cannot help but find that there is something moral about his judgment. Hitchcock reinforces this sympathy towards Charlie by never actually showing him committing a murder, therefore creating this dispute of whether or not he is good or bad, black or white when in reality it could be argued either way.
A similar example of this narrative technique is seen in the seemingly respectable Professor Jordan of The 39 Steps, although his pleasant appearance is much more short-lived than that of Uncle Charlie. He is an amiable and reputable man amongst many and held in high regard within the small Scottish village he resides in. In The Lady Vanishes early on the audience is introduced to a Dr. Hartz, a outwardly caring physician who, again until the...

Other Essays Like Hitchcock the Master of Suspense

A Comparison Of A Streetcar Named Desire And The Master Builder

769 words - 4 pages The Comedy and Tragedy of A Streetcar Named Desire and The Master Builder It has been said that the world is a comedy to those that think, and a tragedy to those who feel.  This philosophy is supported by two important literary works, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams and The Master Builder by Henrik Ibsen. In each piece, the sensitive and emotional characters experience tremendous pain, while the cold and unfeeling

Alfred Hitchcock: Comparison Of 4 Movies

905 words - 4 pages Alfred Hitchcock is the undoubted master of suspense, and virtually invented the thriller genre. He began his film career in 1919, illustrating title cards for silent films at Paramount's Famous Players-Lasky studio in London. His first directed film was The Pleasure Garden in 1925. From there Hitchcock went on to make such films as The 39 Steps in 1935, an espionage thriller involving spies and murder set in London, Vertigo in 1958, a mystery

Psycho (1960) Film Analysis

911 words - 4 pages Norman’s eyes just at the right angle to light them up while the rest of his face is in a shadow making him look very sinister. I believe this was an attempt at Hitchcock showing Normans true character. I think that overall the different variations of long shots and short cuts throughout the film were used for added suspense for the audience. According to TIME Magazines June 27th, 1960 Review of Psycho,

Scripting for the Edit

2462 words - 10 pages the way in which the two seemingly opposite editing styles can be utilised effectively consecutively in one film. The master of this is the Hitchcock in the iconic film "Psycho." There are two murders in the film and each is dealt with in very different ways. The first murder scene is a classical example of an assembly edit. The whole scene lasts 45 seconds and it required 7 days of shots and 70 camera positions! With the first murder the focus

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho

1341 words - 6 pages An Analysis of the Opening Sequence from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho Just like a building, a film needs a strong foundation in order to be successful, a foundation which is made up of the starting moments of the film. In Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock successfully uses the opening credit sequence to establish a foundation on which to build an interesting plot, including techniques to elicit involvement by the spectator, and the suggestion of a

Film as Mirror in Hitchcock's Vertigo

1413 words - 6 pages Film as Mirror in Hitchcock's Vertigo Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo is a master's class in subtle and effective filmmaking - its noirish tale of obsession and loss is considered one of his best works. This is due in no small part to the directors' use of the various elements of film as a mirror. Hitchcock intends to create a sense of repetition and a cyclical nature to the life of the characters in the film; following Scottie (James Stewart

Suspense And Mystery In 'The Monkey's Paw' And 'The Red Room'

1606 words - 7 pages ’’, this automatically draws the reader’s attention. This writing technique is very common when building suspense from the beginning of the story because it gains the reader’s attention then it makes the reader want to read on. Also, W.W Jacobs makes a point of setting the start of the story at night because most people are scared of the dark and the fact that they do not know what is lurking behind the darkness makes the reader ask more

Suspense in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

688 words - 3 pages “I Can’t Believe It!” – Suspense in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Suspense is one of the greatest literary elements that can be used. Some people say that it is a waste and that the author should just go ahead and tell the reader what’s going on instead of waiting. However, suspense is what makes most readers keep reading, it keeps you on the edge of your seat waiting to find out what happens next. Robert Louis


1054 words - 5 pages  The Lodger - 1927 After a series of murders take place in London, all victimising women, a landlady begins to suspect that her lodger is the killer responsible for the killings.  One of Hitchcock's earliest and most famous films, 'The Lodger' is regarded as one of the world's first thriller films, incorporating mysteriousness and terror but, notably, lacking the degree of violence which was first introduced by Hitchcock in 'Psycho' , and

"The Call Of The Wild" By Jack London

516 words - 3 pages story tells the life of Buck as he is passed from owner to owner. Buck’s first captor starves him, then he is beaten to teach him obedience upon arrival to his next owner. After that he is sold again to a hard working supply team and then sold yet again to an abusive family. He is eventually rescued by a kind master, John Thornton, whom he cares for deeply. After Thornton is killed, Buck realizes his true calling is the wild and he is

Language and Cinema: Film Language in Sabotage

4570 words - 19 pages , always been a groundswell of opinion that the best films are those which tell their story visually, with the minimum of words, and director Alfred Hitchcock was certainly of that opinion. His aim, he maintains, is to produce “pure cinema”16 where it is the visual images that tell the story. In this paper I want to explore the way in which film images relate to literary discourse through an analysis of a scene from one of Hitchcock’s early

Related Papers

Alfred Hitchcock, Master Of Suspense: A Director Who Loves To Manipulate The Audience Through His Films

970 words - 4 pages Alfred Hitchcock, also known as "Master of Suspense," was a director who loves to manipulate the audience through his films. As a director, he always stayed in touch with his childish fears. Ever since his father taught him a lesson about what happens to "naughty boys," he always feared police. Hitchcock recalled that "the sound of that closing cell door and the bolt" never left his memory. Director of such works as Psycho and Dial "M" for

Master Of The Universe Essay

635 words - 3 pages Master of the Universe For the purpose of owning and operating an organic clothing design store, the company Jupiter was created. Jupiter was formed by Saturn, which owns 51% of Jupiter, with Venus owning the remaining 49%. Both Saturn and Venus participate in managing Jupiter, with each absorbing potential losses as well as the profits in proportion to their respective ownership interest percentages. ACS 810102521, 22, discuss the

How Does Hitchcock Use Cinematography To Manipulate The Emotions Of His Audience?

3202 words - 13 pages Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, born August 13, 1899 in Leytonstone, England, was a film technician who deftly blended sex, suspense and humour, and who justly became known as "The Master of Suspense". His brilliance in film-making was envied as well as loved and his influence continues to be felt over many a filmmaker. He used intelligent plots and captivating and memorable scenes to enable his movies, still, to surprise and enchant silver screen

How Alfred Hitchcock Gains Sympathy Of The Audience For Marian Crane In Psycho

2731 words - 11 pages audience for Marian Crane even though she steals $40,000. At the start of the film, the credits are shown. Hitchcock thought hard about the way he would show them. The screen is made up of black and white horizontal bars, which keep on splitting. This shows the two conflicting sides of the film (good verses evil!) During the credits, the ‘Psycho’ theme tune is played. This helps to create tension and suspense even