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Hitchcock even placed the camera behind the wheel of Scottie's car as he followed Madeleine around the city. In addition, Hitchcock uses the first-person technique to put the audience in the right mind frame of a suspense thriller. "Vertigo" ends in one of Hitchcock's most shocking, abrupt, and negative scenes.
From Scottie's viewpoint: Madeleine!
INT. CHURCH, SAN JUAN BAUTISTA -- DAY
Scottie runs in, stops at the foot of the steps, hears the running footsteps, and looks up. From his viewpoint, we see Madeline running up the open stairway that spirals up along the walls of the high tower. She is already well on her way. Scottie is immediately stricken by the vertigo, and the tall tower seems to slide away from him.
He makes an attempt to start up the stairs, flattens himself against the wall and struggles up. He claws his way up, crosses over the hand-railing and uses it to pull his body up the steps, one by one struggling for breath, unable to call, though he tries. And Madeline keeps running.
Madeline reaches the top, goes through a small wooden door. We see it slam, hear it locked. Scottie, struggling up, reaches a landing next to a small open arch that looks out on the back garden, and has to stop to tight his nausea. There is a scream from above. Through the arch, he sees a body fall. He calls "Madeline!" And looks down through the arch.
However, although Scottie shows such weakness, the viewers do not lose their support of him. They do not blame him for his fear, but Madeline for leading him on. At the end, Hitchcock gets the last laugh for everyone when it is revealed that not everything works out for the best. The confession leaves Scottie as helpless and alone as before. The scene is once again repeated.
Notorious with Cary (Devlin) Grant and Ingrid (Alicia) Bergman contains romance, spying and Nazis, death and the typical Hitchcock subjective suspense. One of Alicia is the "notorious" woman sought out by the United States government to uncover secret Nazi happenings in Brazil. She and her contact agent, Devlin must hide their love for one other in order to successfully complete the undercover work and gather information from Nazi Alex Sabastian (Claude Rains).
Paced perfectly as only Hitchcock could do, "Notorious" begins by establishing the characters and the theme of the movie that revolves the nation's future and a woman's life. The story then brings in the viewers into a series of events from high suspense to an elicit long kiss. In fact, this kiss has long been recognized for its timing. Because kisses could only be so long, the kiss between the couple stops and starts and stops and starts. This, in itself, drew the audience into the plot. The audience continues to see the film through the three main characters, as each transition alters their situation. Again, in typical Hitchcock fashion, by the end of the film the audience is so into the mindset of the characters that just the simple climbing of the flight of stairs is nerve wracking.
In the film, the subjective camera shows us how the characters actually feel. "We get a point-of-view shot of Alicia driving while drunk, and she mistakes her hair for 'fog.' Later in the film other point-of-view shots show the blurring of her vision when she is nearly poisoned to death (Modleski 136). Hitchcock uses the subjective camera view to show the lack of self-esteem and problems that Alicia has. For example, she has no place to actually call home. He gives her several homes, none that are really her own. There is the house in Miami, and the hotel in Rio De Janiero, Sebastians' house-none of these that are truly hers.
The audience goes from one location to another with Alicia and never feels at ease: The courthouse when her father is sentenced to prison, the airplane when she hears of his death, the racetrack where she meets Devlin while being watched through field glasses, the park bench where she meets with Devlin secretly. She is never alone. Her party is crashed by a government agent, who shows that her house has been bugged. A hoped-for intimate dinner with Devlin is destroyed by Devlin's call to Prescott and then by hearing that the Americans want her to go to bed with another man. The kiss down in the wine cellar is watched. and, all these scenes are viewed by the audience as well, so everyone realizes she is never alone and feel her pain at wanting some time to call her own.
By use of the subjective camera, Hitchcock, says Wood (306) creates sympathy for characters. The audience are made to identify with the characters to a large degree and encouraged to sympathize or, even better, empathize with them. "This is of course quite 'unscientific,' hence beyond the limited grasp of semiotics, but is of central importance to our experience of any fictional narrative." To a certain degree it is personal and subjective. But even if it eludes rigorously "scientific" demonstration, it is not beyond rational discussion and analysis: an examination of the construction of the scenario, the dialogue, and use of cinematic tools become pointers to feeling the sympathy that Hitchcock wishes.
In "Notorious," it is clear that Alicia is from the very start the movie's emotional point that draws the audience's greatest sympathy. The eye at the beginning is hers. Sebastian is a secondary sympathy figure only because he is the victim. However, the viewers feel for Alicia in a positive sense, not negatively as with Sebastian. The majority of subjective or point-of-view shots in "Notorious" belong to Alicia, not to the men. She is the one with whom Hitchcock wants the viewers to identify. In the party scene, for example, with its elaborate camera angles of three individuals, the number of shots from her point-of-view is much, much greater than for Devlin or Sebastian.
The poison scene with its sequences of Alicia knowing what is happening is another example of the subjective techniques used by Hitchcock. As noted above, the audience has information that even the protagonist does not have. At the start of the scene, the audience knows that Alicia is being poisoned by Sebastian and his mother, because they know she is working for the Americans. The scene also shows the different type of actual camera shots: The establishing shot opens the sequence, frequently an exterior and sets the scene. The long shot (LS), which shows all or most of a fairly large subject (for example, a person) and usually much of the surroundings and extreme long shot where the camera is at its furthest distance from the subject, emphasizing the background.
The medium shots show the scene but to a lesser degree. In the case of the standing actor, the lower frame passes through the waist. There is space for hand gestures to be seen. Medium shots are frequently used for the tight presentation of two actors (the two shot), or with dexterity three (the three shot). Close-up (CU) shows a fairly small part of the scene, such as a character's face, in great detail so that it fills the screen and used in interviews by Hitchcock especially to show people in a state of emotional excitement, grief or joy. In interviews, the use of this show may emphasize the interviewee's tension and suggest lying or guilt.
The objective first long shot to the cup being carried relays information and relates the process on how Alicia is caught up. Then, the second part involves the audience more and more closely in her experience. Next comes the first subjective shot when the Sebastians shout to Dr. Anderson not to drink from Alicia's cup by mistake and she looks at her cup. The close-up shows her concern and recognition.
Then, two subjective shots from Alicia's point-of-view show the unconcerned faces of the Sebastians and her shock of awareness. The audience now knows she knows that they know. And finally, the full use of the subjective camera angle with frightening thoughts and images from Alicia's point-of-view as she struggles to get to the door. At this point, the suspense mounts since the audience has truly become her, understanding her fear and pain.
These three movies, "Rear Window," "Vertigo" and "Notorious," are made all the more suspenseful and meaningful because from the moment that the credits come up and Hitchcock uses his major camera angles, the viewers are no longer in the theater but right in the action that is taking place on the screen. Hitchcock films continue to impress moviegoers even years after they are made, even with the tremendous technical advances, because they are human stories that the humans watching can clearly recognize. It is more than a story about other people, it is a story about oneself.
Bogdanovich, Peter. Who the Devil Made it. New York: Ballantine, 1997
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