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The best skill of cinema is the potential to generate empathy in the audience of the film both by the means and images of the film. Alfred Hitchcock has been a household name for a long time since he started producing films. Hitchcock has been able to accumulate well-known and distinct filmmaking techniques, making him one of the greatest directors in the world. What makes Hitchcock's 'must see' movies, is how he pulls the emotions of his audiences and leaves them in suspense (Maher 246). Hitchcock's The Birds is an American horror movie that was shot in 1963. The film is loosely based on the 1952 story of Daphne Du Maurier and focuses on a sudden series, unexplained powerful and violent birds attacking the people of Bodega Bay(Maher 247). In this movie, the fact that viewers do not get to know the details of the birds makes it an interesting but a suspense film, which evokes thoughts of the audience to know much about the birds. On the other hand,Identity, which was directed by James Mangold in 2003, revolves around the life of ten people who seeks refuge in an isolated motel when a vicious storm breaks out in the desert of Nevada (Falsafi, Khorashad, and Khorashad 2521). As they seek refuge, a serious murderer, Taylor Vince awaits his execution for killing a group of motel guests. This paper, using terminology resources and cinematic techniques,seeks to expatriate the similar technique styles adopted in the two films to enhance suspense. The cinematic techniques addressed in this work include the perception of perspectives, lighting, the use of spider web, and the use of camera narration (Falsafi, Khorashad, and Khorashad 2521). With respect to the two movies, it is evident that the use of various production techniques aids producers achieve various themes as well as literal devices like suspense in their production making their works more interesting to watch
The filmmakers of these two movies are quite impressive in their techniques due to tensions they create at different scenes, which upgrade the films from comedies to the horror genre alongside suspense (Falsafi, Khorashad, and Khorashad 2524). Among the visual techniques employed in these films is the lighting. Even though it is a pathetic fallacy, the lighting atmosphere is very bright and colorful in the film. The Birds is set in many scenes to reflect the characters’ behaviors in the scenes (Maher 248). Again, towards the end of the bright lighting, a dark color is presented to create a suspense atmosphere. For instance, an excellent use of lighting is offered in the dead farmer’s scene. Here, lighting symbolizes the mood in the scene. It starts with Lydia trekking down in a very bright sunlight, the light dims as she approaches the door. Inside the house, there is a window with natural light although no false in the house. Even so, the absence of light creates suspense to the viewers making them expectant of a bad situation, which the audience is left to figure out.
The use of lighting in today’s cinematography has great impacts on the intended audience. The main characters in modern movies are usually directed in key lights. Generally the lights on these key objects are brighter than the fill light and the backlight. Light is targeted to give clarity of the image, to quest for better realism and to create an atmosphere of emotions(Cohen 127). Lightings in particular are fundamental tools in manipulating the audiences’ response to narrative events and characters.
The use of camera narration is another Hitchcockian technique that heightens the level of suspense in both The Birds and Identity (Falsafi, Khorashad, and Khorashad 2524). Hitchcock utilizes this aspect to show the impact of the birds and creaytes suspense about their ability and intention. Also, Hitchcock uses camera in most iconic like in the climbing frame scene to show the viewers that the birds in the movie are inescapable. Similarly,Identity utilizes camera narration to express different ideas in the film and to the aspect of suspense in the film (Vorderer, Wulff, and Friedrichsen 1). The film is basically round-breathing with lots of enthusiasm. Camera rotates around the characters and perhaps far ahead of the characters to create lots of suspense in the audience and around a sociological problem and most probably a very ugly relationship between the columnist and the publicist.
Today, the most important aspect in the films is the camera movement. It possesses a profound influence on how to look and interpret the film and the way films are engaged and experienced by the spectators. Interpreting film styles owing to its significance of the theme or subject matter remarkably relies of the camera movement (Vorderer, Wulff, and Friedrichsen 1). The film industries have sort equipment that enables the camera movement in and out of actions in the very best ethereal manner.
Another Hitchcockian technique is the use shadows or spider web. A shadow in these two films is used to heighten feeling of unease created by the lighting technique, perhaps to raise the suspense heights (Vorderer, Wulff, and Friedrichsen 1). An example of shadow use in the room where the farmer is found dead, the camera reveals his body in the dark lightings. The shadow that covers his body exposes his face with black eye sockets. As Lydia runs out of the room, the sky is stormy and dark to symbolize the death of the man. In course of this run, the audience is left in suspene on what coud happen to Lydia. The shadows, more prominent than the anticipated are unsettling simply in this abnormality. The psycho aesthetic design is also adopted by James Mangold to enhance suspense in his film Identity. This technique most importantly created by the style of lighting provides gloomy details of the surroundings, especially in Norman’s house and Bates Motel (Krutnik 6). It also conceals the psychological challenges Norman is undergoing throughout the film.
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Just like the other techniques applied in the movie industry, the use of shadow is as important as the others. Shadows arguably are excellent ways of invoking moods in production(Maher 248). Shadow exposure, shadow shaping, and cucoloris are important aspects taken into account by this industry to leave most viewers in suspense. Contemporary horror films are full of spider webs that other than heightening the aspect of suspense, they instill a feeling of terror and fear in this genre. Also some parts of the films are blurred to prevent unintended audience from viewing what is not meant for them.
Another vital cinematic technique that makes The Birds and Identity exemplary works is the manipulation and use of perception through perspectives which takes the audiences in a series of suspense moments. This entails how Hitchcock manipulates what his audience perceives from the movie and what he delivers to the audience and the manner in which he delivers them. Filmmaker is able to manipulate the perception of his audience from what he gives them, he chooses what they see and what they do not want to see reminding them of their exclusion from that world and even the suspense (Krutnik 7). In the case of the film The Birds, the audience can easily perceive the coloring and lighting as of a calm situation. However, the occurrences in the film are a manipulation of the viewers’ expectations hebce creating some suspense in the film. As epitomized by her character Lisa, Mangold’s most compelling moments in Identity are marked by ambivalence where the audience is placed in a state of two opposite direction at play. Kaysen, in her sanity, feels she is placed out of real world.
Contemporary movie industry heavily relies on the use and manipulation of perception through perspectives in the films (Krutnik 9). Conceptually, films denote the art of celluloid and the art of work as their major components in utilizing this technique to produce acceptable quality by the audience. The manipulation of the viewers’ expectation is a common art in the modern movies and is used by the directors to remind the audience that although they are part of the industry, they still are not in the world of the characters and the film as a whole (Vorderer, Wulff, and Friedrichsen).
In conclusion, both movie producers show depict mastery in their roles by understanding how to make use of various production techniques to ;bring out the theme pof suspense. Both make use of lighting techniques to create suspense to audience on what is about to occur in the next scene. Additionally, they also make use perceptive manipulation to create Suspense in the readers mind by not \providing the expected outcome by the audience. Apart from that, both movies depict the use shadows ‘to create suspense in the audiences. Through incorporating shadows the audience is in suspense of the next attack or occurrence hence a great technique of creating suspense in movies. Therefore, the two movies illustrate the effectiveness of the using production techniques to generate various ]literal devices that make movies more interesting and one that watchers revel in.
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Cohen, Paula Marantz. “Conceptual Suspense in Hitchcock’s Films.” A Companion to Alfred Hitchcock. N.p., 2012. 126–137. Web.
Falsafi, Parinaz, Somayeh Khosravi Khorashad, and Larousse Khosravi Khorashad. “Psychological Analysis of Alfred Hitchcock’s Movies.” Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. Vol. 30. N.p., 2011. 2520–2524. Web.
Krutnik, Frank. “Theatre of Thrills: The Culture of Suspense.” New Review of Film and Television Studies. Vol. 11. N.p., 2013. 6–33. Web.
Maher, Brigid. “The Voices of Suspense and Their Translation in Thrillers.” Translation Studies 8.2 (2015): 246–249. Web.
Vorderer, Peter, Hans Jurgen Wulff, and Mike Friedrichsen. Suspense. [Electronic Resource] : Conceptualizations, Theoretical Analyses, and Empirical Explorations. N.p., 2013. Web.Bottom of Form
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