Creating Suspense

While reading a film theory book on the way into London yesterday.
As most people interested in Hitchcock films are aware, Alfred Hitchcock’s style was largely influenced by the work of the Russian filmmaker, Sergei Eisenstein. Eisenstein’s montage technique introduced innovative film methods to suggest violence and suspense. For example, Shot A + Shot B (screen shots) = Shot C (the mind of the audience). Hitchcock employs this technique to full effect in the shower scene in Psycho. However, after 40 years working as a studio filmmaker, Hitchcock’s work was known for its invisibility quality. Hollywood cinema in the 20s and 30s were controlled not only by censorship but also by the structure of the film. Films largely focused on narrative and characters. Being restricted, Hitchcock perfected ways to deviate from traditional paths and look for alternatives to create suspense. By using montage, he could perfect his technique using ‘invisible cutting’ (Skerry 2009) where the viewer connected with the character to create tension. Below, we can observe an example of this technique early on in the film Psycho. We see close-ups of Janet Leigh driving, the bright lights causing her to blink. Then, we see clips of her windscreen view. The viewer becomes her and we can identify with her state of mind.

Shot A Shot B Shot C Shot D Shot E Shot F



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s