Photo: Vallarta Tribune
Home / Meet / Alfred-hitchcock-2Photo: Vallarta Tribune

meet

Alfred Hitchcock

...because he specialized in the effects of systematic psychological cruelty on human beings. In film after film, he didn’t simply shock and terrorize his characters, but admittedly his audience as well. Yet this was essential, as the audience off-screen was just as important as the spectacle on screen, with films like "Rear Window" and "Psycho" that intentionally tried to close the divide between them. Ultimately, Hitchcock realized that simply giving the audience more information than what the characters knew allowed him to produce the desired reaction in his audience – fear, concern, but most of all, suspense.



WATCH

Why You Need To Watch Psycho

MEET

Meet Alfred Hitchcock

MAKE

Surprise vs. Suspense

View all

More on Alfred Hitchcock

While Hitchcock was certainly the Master of Suspense as well as the macabre, he also solidified his place in popular culture through marketing and self-promotion. His directorial trademark of a brief cameo role in every film established his visibility to audiences. He also used his name recognition to publish anthologies and magazines devoted to mystery stories. In 1955, he served as the host in the television series also bearing his name, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” with his dry wit and often comical appearance offering a contrast to the dark stories of the show. He also was very open to the public through media and interviews about the process that went into making his films.

Hitchcock also viewed his filmmaking as pure cinema. By this, he suggests the idea that the director is always in control of the audience. Rather than allowing the audience to maintain its objective distance from the work, the director plays on psychological reactions so viewers place themselves in the dilemma on-screen. For Hitchcock, the most important tool to accomplish this was shot selection and editing. Hitch famously drew extensive storyboards of each and every shot he planned to film, allowing him to cut the film in his head while on set. This deliberate approach to film intends to take full advantage of the medium, as opposed to a straightforward presentation of the story and characters. Or, as Hitch himself puts it: “You gradually build up the psychological situation, piece by piece, using the camera to emphasize first on detail, then another. The point is to draw the audience right inside the situation instead of leaving them to watch it from the outside, from a distance. And you do this only by breaking the action up into details and cutting from one to the other, so that each detail is forced to turn on the attention of the audience and reveals its psychological meaning. If you played the whole scene straight through, and simply made a photographic record of it with the camera always in one position, you would lose your power over the audience.”

Craft went beyond creation for Hitchcock, as the film form served as a vehicle to provoke base human emotions from the audience. Psychology was always the focal point of nearly every film, mostly the dark edges outside the realm of what we consider normality. Sometimes, this was obvious, such as in "Psycho," yet in others, it was more subtle. Most of all, he viewed his films as a form of shock therapy for the audience, allowing them to indulge in unacceptable pleasures. Yet Hitchcock also pushed his audience members to reconsider their place in relation to the film, playfully warning that the fictional divide between them and his work might not be as comforting as it seemed.

Resources

Article

THE PSYCHO GENIUS OF HOLLYWOOD

Read more

Article

Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO and ‘The Art of Pure Cinema’

Read more

Article

Through the Peephole: Alfred Hitchcock and the Enduring Legacy of Psycho

Read more

Book

The Moment of Psycho: How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder

Buy now $13

Podcasts

Hitchcock Truffaut Recordings

Read more

Book

After Hitchcock: Influence, Imitation, and Intertextuality

Buy now $29

Book

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: An Illustrated Guide to the Ten-year Television Career of the Master of Suspense

Buy now $7

Book

The ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS Companion

Buy now $60

Article

Was Hitchcock Psycho?

Read more

Article

‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’: The Quality of Humor

Read more

Article

Alfred Hitchcock Presents Class Struggle

Read more

Article

Alfred Hitchcock Presents…

Read more

Article

Alfred Hitchcock Presents Articles

Read more

Article

Why I Make Melodramas

Read more

Journal

Blackmail: Silent and Sound

Read more

Book

Framing Hitchcock: Selected Essays from the Hitchcock Annual (Contemporary Approaches to Film and Media Series)

Buy now $28

Journal

Sight and Sound (1977) – Surviving: Hitchcock

Read more

Book

English Hitchcock

Buy now $7

Book

Hitchcock’s Films

Buy now $9

Book

Hitchcock by Truffaut: A Definitive Study of Alfred Hitchcock

Buy now $17

Book

A Hitchcock Reader

Buy now $43

Book

Hitchcock at Work

Buy now $18

Book

The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock

Buy now $1

Book

Hitch: The Life and Times of Alfred Hitchcock, John Russell Taylor, 1978

Buy now $1

Book

Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews

Buy now $5

Book

Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light

Buy now $13
View all

Leave a Reply