The final film I analysed by Alfred Hitchcock is the 1958 psychological thriller film: ‘Vertigo’. Like any other Hitchcock film, he uses miss-en-scene, camerawork, sound design and editing to create a suspenseful atmosphere. Here are the techniques I noticed whilst watching the film:
- Something I have noticed in the other Hitchcock films I have watched is that he uses a lot of extreme close ups and reaction shots – this is something which is very prominent in ‘Vertigo’. It creates the same effects as the other films: it makes you feel like you are actually immersed in the story and you are actually there. Since I am making a film opening with the intention that it will be eery and tense, making the audience feel like they are part of the plot will give this desired effect.
- The lighting creates an atmosphere too. Red lighting has been used which portrays danger, blue to represent sadness and so on and so forth. Using lighting to create a mood in my film opening will be another skill.
- Even though there are a lot of extreme close up shots, there are some really nice shots of the background “taking over the screen”. In these shots, the characters look very distant but, it creates a theme of isolation. Since our plot does have that theme underlining it, shots like these would be very useful to consider.
Another murder mystery film I watched (which is also directed by Hitchcock) is the 1954 film: ‘Rear Window’. Hitchcock tells the story of a wheelchair bound, magazine photographer watches the people who live in his apartment block from his rear window. He soon realises that a murder may have taken place in one of the apartments opposite him. The director uses lots of techniques to draw the audience in and put them on the edge of their seats; as well as creating the alluring suspense found in the murder mystery genre.
- The only setting seen throughout the film is in the protagonist’s apartment. Like ‘Psycho’, the camera being incredibly close to the characters creates a feeling like you are actually there with them. The setting of only seeing through the apartment windows also makes you feel like a voyeur and you are engaged in these people’s personal lives. Reaction shots and extreme close ups of the protagonist also made you feel like you were close to him.
- Lighting is also used to create a mysterious effect. The main character usually watches his neighbours at night and the only light coming into the room is with from the moonlight or, from the apartments opposite. The characters face is dimly lit and this also creates an eery feeling.
- The only sound heard (this is the case for 99% of the film) is the diegetic sound of the outside world or from the protagonist. This makes the film look a lot more realistic and it seems like the audience is engaged in a real life situation. The use of diegetic sound will be used a lot in my film opening as it creates a wonderful effect and it also fits to the genre expectations.
Instead of writing a long blogpost, I decided to create a short video about the audience expectations of the murder mystery genre. Enjoy.
A genre that has intrigued me and Adam is: the murder mystery genre. Because of this interest, we decided to research the genre further which has opened us up to many new ideas for our film opening. To present the typical conventions of the murder mystery genre and to use as many media forms as possible, a podcast would be the best way to talk about the genre. To do the podcast, we used an audio recorder to record ourselves talking about the subject then to add into the podcast, I created a picture on Pixelmator to add into Final Cut Pro when editing. Here is the podcast below:
To make it easier to look at the conventions, for reference we have included short bullet points of what we spoke about down below:
- The plot usually contains an unsolved crime at hand. The protagonist is usually the one attempting to solve the crime, the detective. The whole storyline is typically based around the protagonist trying to solve the crime by piecing together: clues, events, suspects and circumstances.
- Since there is a detective as a protagonist, there will most certainly be a villain which needs to be caught. Since there is a killer, there needs to be some victims too else, there will be no murder(s) to happen.
- The setting tends to be where the crime occurred and where the evidence takes the protagonist. A common setting which is always referred back to in many murder mystery films is in fact an office where the detectives meet to piece evidence together.
- The way the film is edited is also quite unique. In murder mystery films, there are quite a lot of fade to blacks, potentially this could mean that suspense is added to the quite dark matter at hand in terms of the plot and the events taking place.
- The iconography is usually a very sad, dull day. To present this in the film, dark and rainy days are used in many outdoor scenes and settings.
- A common use of non-diegetic sound used in these films is a sad, eerie and mysterious score played at many times during the film. This adds tension and an uncomfortable atmosphere to the film.
- Most common themes presented are: conspiracy, pursuit of something or someone, acts of murder, sadness, suspense and of course, mystery.