Alfred Hitchcock's Use Of Suspense In Film

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Suspense is a difficult art to master--that certain balance between nervousness and excitement is achieved by so few. Nonetheless, Alfred Hitchcock has the magic touch when it comes to keeping viewers on the edge of their seats. Fifty percent of the time, when an audience is taken over by suspense, its thanks to one of his original films--the other fifty percent is only just watching Hitchcock's tactics re-stitched into modern movies. His film North by Northwest is a prime example of Hitchcock's intelligence and experience in this form of art, being "regarded by many as the very quintessence of a Hitchcock film," critically acclaimed reviewer for Films de France, James Travers, notes (par. 1). Through critical elements of the mis en scene, …show more content…

Hitchcock employs suspense through the use of both small and wide open spaces throughout Thornhill's journey. Scott McGee, Jeff Stafford, Lang Thompson, authors for Turner Classic Movies, and David Ehrenstein, whom reviewed this film in The Criterion Collection, all equally praise Hitchcock for his placement of Roger Thornhill "at the tender mercies of a broad daylight film" (Ehrenstein par.3) along with open and defined spaces that slowly build up the tension (McGee par.9). In a fake attempt to help Thornhill, Kendall sends him to a vast, open, dusty plain lined with crops enclosing a single road passing through claiming Kaplan will meet him there to speak with him. The emptiness kicks in and each time a car speeds down the road, the audience is hoping just as much as Thornhill that it will be Kaplan; or anyone of the matter. Even towards the end of the movie, in the final chase scene upon the top of Mount Rushmore, Thornhill has a large amount of woods to run through, but both he and the viewers realize he's thousands of feet up when he ends up at the edge of the cliff. In the most free he has ever been in the movie, he still finds himself

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