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Was Hitchcock a surrealist filmmaker?
Hitchcock was a surrealist filmmaker. This is because Harper and Stone indicated that Alfred Hitchcock made a series of surrealist masterpieces in Hollywood in the 1950s and 1960s (115). They also indicated that Hitchcock was the first popular director to work in the surrealist mode. The unsilvered screen: surrealism on film further noted that “his horror film has for decades drawn tongue in cheek on the dark jittery side of Surrealism” (115). Harper and Stone also continue to indicate that Hitchcock was one of the cinemas popular Surrealists which was attributed to his personal interest in the early Surrealist (121). His other drive was as a result of his fascination with the irrational, sexual desire and the dream-state, combined with his potent forces of modernity, all helped to shape his Surrealist aesthetic.
According to The unsilvered screen: surrealism on film “it was arguably that Hitchcock was the first popular director to explore consciously the Surrealists ideas about the cinema in his films” (121). The book also established that Hitchcock was very influential in setting the scene for more recent directors for example Lynch. Harper and Stone also indicated that Hitchcock has exerted a profound influence on the direction of contemporary film in relation to surrealism (121).
Demonstrate knowledge of Hitchcock's work through literary critiques of his films.
Harper and Stone say that as a member of the London Film Society in the 1920s this enabled Hitchcock to see the great early Dada and Surrealist films whose influenced gave him a different direction as far as Surrealist films are concerned. The unsilvered screen: surrealism on film established that “due to his love of art and interest in Surrealism he attended and read about the great Surrealist exhibition in 1936 which was held at the Royal Academy” (121).
It was noted that like the Surrealists Hitchcock was also amazed by the art of illusion which is most evident in his use of rear projection (Harper and Stone 125). In their further studies Harper and Stone noted that rear projection enables an exterior scene to be projected onto a translucent screen so that the film may appear as the background for live action filmed in a studio. Harper and Stone say that to demonstrate his knowledge in films Hitchcock using rear projection Hitchcock was able to play with the audience, to trick the eye into imaging it has been the real thing (125).
Explore the ideas of: -Madness -Conflict with in the movie (Conflict that makes the movie imperfect)
Studies according to Sterritt (1) often miss the complexity of Hitchcock achievement by leaning far towards conflict in the movie. This is because by examining his scenarios and story lines the technical analysis sheds light on isolated issues showing conflicts without illuminating the canon. Moreover, conflicts is shown by the broadly based interest in Hitchcock work stems from a number of factors including his lifelong fascination with one of the fundamental concerns of modern art (Sterritt 1) According to The films of Alfred Hitchcock expresses “his deep-seated fear of chaos in various ways for example by inflicting vulnerability on his characters, by shifting the relationship between reality and illusion” (1). He also places characters in confining environments that connote suffocation and paralysis rather than safety or security and he also represses key thematic material too dangerous or forbidden to be actualized (Sterritt 1).
Talk about how Hitchcock was heavily inspired by Edgar Allan Poe Look at the essay "Why I am Afraid of the Dark" - Increments toward murder
According to The unsilvered screen: surrealism on film “in his short story ‘Why I am Afraid of the Dark’, published in June 1960, Hitchcock talked about his discovery of the stories of Edgar Allan Poe when he was sixteen and of the later influence of Poe’s work on his suspense films” (121). Hitchcock also writes that Surrealism was indebted to Poe and that his own work was influenced by the French Surrealists: which include ages of bloody water swirling down into a drain; the close-up of an eye superimposed over a plughole; a car containing a dead body being sucked into a bog; and a mummified skeleton in a cellar (Harper and Stone 125).
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Hitchcock shows the audience what is happening with blatant intentions although he may be playing with your mind for instance the idea of money in psycho.
According to Harper and Stone in psycho Hitchcock sucks the audience into the imaginary through images of descent falling whereby in the end she is sucked into the vortex of death in place of the male (125). As indicated by Harper and Stone analyses the surrealist elements of that film in its blurring or removal of the distinction between the imaginary and the real (125). At the same time Hitchcock used transparencies to create a false reality or a surreal real to great effect in his Surrealist masterpieces. Besides this another important aspect of Hitchcock film is his representation of fatal love, and also there is a profound sense of incommensurability and loss in his films.
The book The unsilvered screen: surrealism on film says that Hitchcock’s heroines are frequently discussed. For example Hitchcock used film images to capture the moments that shock and shocking images to bring about a specific effect in his audience (127). For example a farmer whose eyes had been pecked out leaving black sockets. Harper and Stone say that his aim was to shock his audience from a world of comforting modernity into a world of horror where there are no secure footholds (127). They continue to indicate that there are images of characters hanging from roof tops, cliff edges, falling backwards down steep staircases and about to fall into the vortex or abyss (Harper and Stone 127).
Sensitive to the audiences hunger of what is going to happen. How does hitchcock play on this hunger?
Hitchcock demonstrates his sensitive to the audience hunger with his carefully constructed public persona which is shown by the outlandish publicity photographs, appearances in drag, his signature cartoon, his black, punning humor which invokes a surrealist mode of being (Harper and Stone 128). Most of Hitchcock’s films share common motives, artistic aims and aesthetic techniques of the surrealist movement. He captures his audience by his disregard for classic realism, his representation of everything as image, his desire to shock his audience into the dark surreal and through his desire to merge dream and reality and his fascination with themes (Harper and Stone 128).
Exaggerates the process in which we answer the question of what is happening or what will happen.
Cinema and modernity says that “Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest a movie that was done in 1959 was full of suspense” (79). The book says that Hitchcock made suspense thrillers that did not need to rely on allegory. Hitchcock also harnessed the cultural moment of the Cold War national security state to stories of individual Americans caught up in the hysteria (Pomerance 79). It is equally important to link between Alfred Hitchcock with the way he captured the public attention through his films. For example Cinema and modernity indicated that “Hitchcock became a public celebrity and a well respected filmmaker because he made movies into 1970s in New Hollywood which were largely initiated by the collapse of classical Hollywood” (82).
Another important aspect associated with his films was the lack of connection between the current events and movies he produced. Cinema and modernity says that “during the Hitchcock films were strikingly disconnected from current events” (82). It was noted that after the war Hitchcock would go on to create a set of equally direct films about the significance of for example World War II (Pomerance 82). It was clear that having mastered the American filmmaking idiom his wartime films relied on allegorical abstraction and experimentation. Hitchcock demonstrates that classical realist languages are at odds and that they offered two different strategies for a filmic critique of American culture.
Incorporates the audience and includes them within the space of the movie -his obsession with violence.
Hitchcock films are characterized with violence in different perspectives. For example surreal contexts in Hitchcock’s films has shown this feature by a device of the red flashes which cover the entire screen in uncanny images, black humor and sexual disguise of psycho (Harper and Stone 128). Hitchcock’s heroines are frequently shown as a result of representation of a woman as unobtainable. Harper and Stone say that he goes on to represent the impossibility of union between the sexes, in his frustrated pursuit of compulsive beauty as a sexual union a moment of shock and transformation (126).
Furthermore, The unsilvered screen: surrealism on film says that “modernity creates an environment of sensation, shock, distraction and fleeting impressions” (126). Hitchcock thus uses film images to capture the moments that shock. The unsilvered screen: surrealism on film found out that in order” to demonstrate this in his 1936 film “why Thrillers Thrive” Hitchcock clearly shows horror films which exploit sadism, perversion, bestiality and deformity in order to create unnatural excitement in a neurotic public” (126). The thriller also uses techniques of shock and more so terrific shock to create an emotional response resulting in an ultimately beneficial experience (Harper and Stone 128).
Hitchcock not only achieves surrealism through special fix and dream sequences but through anti-logic of narration (Psycho)
The book Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho: a casebook says that “Hitchcock did not believe in magic and that he understood that content or story was not something that could float around waiting for a novelist poet, or filmmaker to catch and pour it into the waiting form of his or her art” (23). The book also notes that Hitchcock was deeply aware that form creates content and form is specific to each kind of artistic expression (Kolker 23). As a good filmmaker Hitchcock uses form, pushes and tests his content, he also spoke through his or her character and how they interact.
Deutelbaum and Poague say that Hitchcock exploits the insecurity of his audience because his creation of his film depends on aspects related to exact science of the spectators’ reaction with attributions of meaning which are interpretively risks (4). Hitchcock is frequently depicted as reluctant to allow certain disturbing implications to be fully explored and also suffers from a relative weakness of normative impulse. Deutelbaum and Poague (5) say that the work of Hitchcock typically equates normality with a bourgeois life in whose values the creative side of him totally disbelieves but to which it can provide no alternative.
Combination of the depictive, the abstract, the psychological -"Hitchcock practiced absurd-ism religious
The conditions under which the film was made were such that Hitchcock was attempting to duplicate the shooting methods of his television show. Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho: a casebook says that the structure and narrative form of the film may be joke played on the audience but in the end the film is so enduring because of its dark, closed, bleak and joyless world that its structure creates. Richardson says that Hitchcock’s films have the elements that chime with surrealism because of his black sense of humor and atmosphere of terrorized perturbation and his moral sensibility (71).
In conclusion, Surrealism and cinema says that “the extent that Hitchcock controls his films and the fact that he manipulated the audience reaction to an extent that one would have expected to preclude any possibility of chance to intrude demonstrates how Hitchcock used Combination of the depictive, the abstract” (71). In the film Vertigo Hitchcock practiced absurd-ism by using the themes of memory and transformation an obsession with death, dreams and the shifting status of reality which were of central interest to surrealism (Richardson 71). Richardson continues to say that the dream logic of the film is impeccable such that one would say that the film makes sense in surrealist terms only.
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