I am currently writing my dissertation on Alfred Hitchcock and the Auteur theory. It is a production study, I am looking at his use of camera, editing and sound specifically – how he creates suspense and other themes.
Could anyone comment on this? Any views / or advise people have on Hitchcock’s body of work, films that I could refer to, favourite Hitchcock moment, the auteur theory – is Hitchcock a true auteur? which other filmmakers would you call a film auteur? and so on….any other comments would be much appreciated.
Regarding “Psycho”, when researching the production of the film consider the fact that Hitch shot it with his television crew. You can figure out the budgetary as well as the technological implications beyond that point. It will make an interesting production case study for you.
is Hitchcock a true auteur? which other filmmakers would you call a film auteur?
It sounds like you’re starting at the most basic level, Lisa. Are you sure you’re ready to write a dissertation?
We usually get these requests on the forum. Often when people say “dissertation” they really mean undergrad thesis, or possibly even final class project. Just a difference in terminology between nations. There aren’t too many grad and postgrad students who ask for writing help here!
I have already done an extensive amount of research on Hitch and the Auteur theory – my intentions were to start a discussion on the subject.
I’m writing an undergraduate dissertation.
Thank you for the “Psycho” comment Bobby.
You’d be best to do an extensive amount of research on the Mubi threads. We have a ton of discussions on Hitchcock and the auteur theory in general. If you want to open up a specific area of discussion on Hitch in a particular way, then get the ball rolling with your thoughts first.
One counter-intuitive place to look is Ray Carney’s website.
He gives an anti-Hitchcock view that might be insightful.
It would benefit you greatly Lisa to look at Rear Window. It is incredibly well-known and full of Hitchcock’s style and many of his recurring themes. One of the main themes in Hitchcock’s work is voyeurism. This not only relates to Rear Window, but Psycho as well. The paranoia of being spied on and how Hitch used the camera to create both interest and anxiety for the viewers is something worth looking at. Hope this was helpful for you.
@ OP looking at his use of camera, editing…
Some excerpts from Carney re Hitch :
These films figure an almost unimaginable dream of expressive ease and power. Because visionary expression is unmediated, it has a purity and clarity that actual spoken words, tones of voice, gestures, and movements never can. Characters’ expressions of themselves are freed from the corruptions of personality, the indirections of ulteriority, and the confusions of imperfect self-awareness. Characters and viewers not only have access to each others’ hearts and minds with an intimacy that social interactions never provide, but express themselves to each other (and to a viewer) with a purity that is never attainable in verbal or physical interaction.
Looks speak more clearly in these films than speech ever could. In North by Northwest Roger Thornhill is able to read the intentions and plans of the people in the house on top of Mount Rushmore merely by looking at them through a window for a few minutes; in Rear Window L. B. Jeffries is able to see into the secret recesses of his neighbors’ lives by staring across the courtyard at them; ……No verbal or physical language could be spoken or understood this clearly and rapidly, or at such distances.
n the key scenes of idealist films, characters need to do or say or otherwise physically express almost nothing. They need only think, feel, and “see.” Hitchcock’s characters are never more alive than when they are functioning in this visionary way. They live in their imaginations, their feelings, and their thoughts much more vividly than in their words or actions, which is why the scenes involving their social interactions are perfunctory and boring in comparison with those in which they are “seeing.”
The understanding of both experience and identity subtly shift. These films implicitly tell us that experience is inside us. They imply that the most important way to encounter reality is to think about it, feel it, commune with it, understand it. One’s relation to experience becomes mental. Characters’ chief expressions of themselves and their relationships with each other are mental. They are defined almost completely in terms of their internal states—their ideas, moods, wishes, dreams, intentions, and goals.
Hitchcock’s films, for example, repeatedly imagine his characters’ most meaningful and intense experiences as taking place when they are silent and alone: L. B. Jeffries sitting alone looking through his camera lens, Lila Crane prowling through the Bates mansion, Roger Thornhill looking into the windows of the mansion on Mount Rushmore, Scotty Ferguson pursuing Judy/Madeline off in the distance. In fact, one might say that the real “horror” in Hitchcock’s work has less to do with physical danger, than with the horrifying isolation of his characters.
Hitchcock’s work frequently shows signs of a complete schism between the two forms of expression. Because of his commitment to conventional narrative forms, he can’t altogether avoid having his characters engage in a certain number of practical social and verbal interactions, but it is clear that he is unable to bring anything like the same degree of interest and inventiveness to those scenes that he does to his depictions of subjectivity. As an illustration, virtually all of the scenes in Psycho in which characters interact socially at any length are mind-numbingly dull and uninspired, even—as the film’s final psychiatric explanation illustrates—to the point of being embarrassing.
The driving scene in Psycho (reproduced in my fourth set of frame enlargements) provides an unusually clear illustration of how idealist film transforms putatively realistic events into expressions of consciousness. The nominal events are as follows: Early in the film, Marion Crane steals money from the real estate office in which she works and flees in her car to rendezvous with her lover. On the final leg of her flight, she drives throughout one entire day and on into the night. As it gets darker, it starts to rain. The storm intensifies and her windshield gets increasingly harder to see through. She blinks and winces as the headlights of oncoming cars glare into her eyes. By the end of the scene, it is late at night, and Marion, lost and uncertain where she can go to get out of the storm, turns off on a side road and pulls into the parking lot of the Bates Motel. It would be an unimaginative viewer, however, who did not realize that the worldly events are not really the point of the scene. As even a student in Film 101 realizes, Hitchcock systematically and comprehensively transforms the driving, the rain, and the night into representations of subjectivity.
…even—as the film’s final psychiatric explanation illustrates—to the point of being embarrassing.
Sounds to me like Carney overlooked Hitch’s scathing punchline that no real human being’s psychological complexity could be ever be deduced during and reduced into a 2 hour entertainment. The idea is unmistakably laughable when verbalized in PSYCHO’s epilogue. Whoops. Otherwise, Lisa, there’s a lot of good material here about PSYCHO, whether or not you agree with Carney’s evaluation of its worth.
Also Lisa, if you are currently so enamored of SHUTTER ISLAND, maybe you could use your passion for it to do a comparison between Scorsese’s and Hitchcock’s depictions of murderous split-personalities.
You’re opening a real can o’ worms here, Lisa…
Read some Robin Wood articles – he’s one of the best critics on Hitchcock. Christopher Sharrett wrote a couple of good articles too.
Film critic David Thompson’s Once Upon a Time – Notorious documentary might be useful to you Lisa, it’s a thorough analysis of what some argue is his best film covering technique, narrative, sub-context etc. Truffaut regards it the quintessence of Hitchcock (& his fave) citing “maximum effect with minimum elements”.