Video Essay. Alfred Hitchcock Presents: A Trivial Pursuit

In Hitchcock's early films, what happens when the actor steps outside the camera's reach?
Luís Azevedo
Close-Up is a feature that spotlights films now playing on MUBI. The retrospective Early Hitchcock is showing August 11 - September 12, 2017 in the United States.
Part of the wizardry of cinema that Alfred Hitchcock dominated so well lays in the process of transformation at work when a person puts on new clothes, wears different looks, moves in new ways. An actor steps in front of the camera and becomes someone else. But what happens when he steps outside its reach, when the scope of the lens is left behind and the actor and the character become invisible to us?
This video essay started as a pursuit across the frame, connecting three early Hitchcock films in the process. As I chased that initial idea, the germ of another grew. The director yells cut and the actors stop. They can repeat, reset, or take a five minute break. That shot can very well be the last take of a long day, shot right before they step of those different garments and leave behind the character for the day. For the spectator, however, there’s no break. The character leaves the frame to often reenter in the next shot. Perhaps we won’t see him again for another five minutes, a half hour or, maybe, we shall never see him again inside the four walls of a film frame.     
Touching the film object, I attempted to take hold of this charade of characters that enter and leave the frame, filling in the gaps left open by the disappearing act of Alfred Hitchcock.


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