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Unfortunately, much of his book is written in the often impenetrable jargon of lit and film “theory,” which makes it a chore to get through—in addition to imperfectly disguising the unremarkable quality of many of its critical insights.
To Hitchcock there typically isn’t a real trail—or not one that matters any more than a false one for its own sake.
Everything matters only subjectively, through its effects on the main character—and through him or her on the audience—whether the knowledge is true or false.
Indeed, this particular sequence was probably completed before Hitchcock came to work on the film. Sometimes the name alone will effect the change, and our minds do the rest.
Perhaps he intends by this observation to adduce a hitherto unknown corollary of the Kuleshov effect, one of Hitchcock’s favorite film-making principles, which explains how cutting or montage—context, as the non-film-making world would describe it—affects what we see, and how we understand what we see.
Self-Image But the question arises: is the Hitchcockian mode adaptable to anything but his peculiarly effective sort of cinematic illusionism?
Does it have anything to do with anything in the real world, or is it just a sort of Mac Guffin of its own, a part of what everybody agrees was Hitchcock’s genius for marketing and publicity—and self-publicity?Latent Paranoia Anything else, including plot and character—which interested him hardly at all—was secondary to this emotional manipulation, and he had nothing but contempt for those he variously called the “plausibles” or “plausibilists.” He always insisted that movies had a logic of their own that made the logic of the plausibilists redundant. In his earliest interview with Truffaut, reprinted by Gottlieb from (1972).The paradigmatically nightmarish situation in which one is pursued for a crime one has not committed is fear at its most basic.In any case, the observation has a contextual effect of its own when put together with Wood’s subtitle, which is also the title of a movie Hitchcock made twice, once in England and once in America: It’s not just that Wood takes the great director’s interest in the processes and consequences of knowing and not knowing as his theme.What, after all, is the “Suspense” that Hitchcock was said (perhaps most often by himself) to be “Master” of but knowledge deferred or denied?It’s the not entirely pleasurable thrill you get from not knowing something that you desperately want to know—whether the bomb will be discovered before it goes off or the policeman will turn around to see the innocent fugitive escaping.But, in the quoted passage above, Wood, too, claims to know too much. After trying—in my view not quite successfully—to explain why the scene struck him so powerfully, Wood writes: I’m sure I would not have felt any of this if I hadn’t known of Hitchcock’s involvement in the film.I don’t attribute the shot to his guidance; I am not making a rational or causal claim.For Hitchcock the important realities were always mental ones.That’s why Gottlieb writes in introducing one of the interviews he reprints that Hitchcock “comes close to saying that story in general is itself a Mac Guffin: extremely valuable and captivating but basically a pretext.