The most important aspect of filmmaking is the ability to elicit an emotional response from the audience, as well as the use of imagery. Since he started making films, Alfred Hitchcock has been a household name. Hitchcock has amassed a well-known and distinct cinematic technique, distinguishing him as one of the best filmmakers in the world (Bays 56). The Birds is a 1963 American horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film is loosely based on Daphne Du Maurier’s 1952 tale about a series of unexplained powerful and aggressive birds attacking the inhabitants of Bodega Bay (Hitchcock 1). Similar to The Birds is Identity, which was directed by James Mangold in 2003 revolving around the life of ten people who seeks refuge in an isolated motel when a vicious storm breaks out in the desert of Nevada. As they seek refuge, a serious murderer, Taylor Vince awaits his execution for killing a group of motel guests (Mangold 1). This paper, through the use of terminology resources and cinematic techniques, seeks to expatriate the similar technique styles adopted in the two films to enhance suspense. The cinematic techniques addressed in this work include the perception of perspectives, lighting, the use of spider web, and the use of camera narration. In addressing these techniques, it is imperative to note that there are diverse audiences both in spoken and cultural language; however, the visual communication remains universal.
The filmmakers of these two movies are quite impressive in their techniques due to the tensions they create at different scenes, which upgrade the films from comedies to the horror genre alongside suspense. Among the visual techniques employed in these films is the lighting. Even though it is a pathetic fallacy, the lighting atmosphere is very bright and colorful in the film. The Birds is set in many scenes to reflect the characters’ behaviors in the scenes. Again, towards the end of the bright lighting, a dark color is presented to create eerie atmosphere. For instance, an excellent use of lighting is offered in the dead farmer’s scene. Here, lighting symbolizes the mood in the scene. It starts with Lydia trekking down in a very bright sunlight, the light dims as she approaches the door. Inside the house, there is a window with natural light although no false in the house (Hitchcock 1). Absence of light suggests a bad situation. This is used by the director to create unease with the observer.
The use of lighting in today’s cinematography has great impacts on the intended audience. The main characters in modern movies are usually directed in key lights. Generally the lights on these key objects are brighter than the fill light and the backlight. Light is targeted to give clarity of the image, to quest for better realism and to create an atmosphere of emotions (Russell 45). Lightings in particular are fundamental tools to manipulate audiences’ response to narrative events and characters.
The use of camera narration is another Hitchcockian techniques the heightens the level of suspense in both The Birds and Identity. Hitchcock utilizes this aspect to show the impact of the birds on what is being said. Also, Hitchcock uses camera in most iconic like in the climbing frame scene to show the viewers that the birds in the movie are inescapable (Hitchcock). Similarly, the film Identity utilizes camera narration to express different ideas in the film and to the aspect of suspense in the film. The film is basically round-breathing with lots of enthusiasm. Camera rotates around characters and perhaps far ahead of the characters to create lots of suspension in the audience and around a sociological problem and most probably a very ugly relationship between the columnist and the publicist (Mangold 1).
Today, the most important aspect in the films is the camera movement is it possesses a profound influence on how to look and interpret the film and the way films are engaged and experienced by the spectators. Interpreting film styles owing to its significance of the theme or subject matter remarkably relies of the camera movement (Russell 75). The film industries have sort equipment that enables the camera movement in and out of actions in the very best ethereal manner.
Another Hitchcockian technique is the use shadows or spider web. A shadow in these two films is used to heighten feeling of unease created by the lighting technique, perhaps to raise the storylines to their climax. An example of shadow use in the room where the farmer is found dead, the camera reveals his body in the dark lightings. The shadow that covers his body exposes his face with black eye sockets. As Lydia runs out of the room, the sky is stormy and dark to symbolize the death of the man (Hitchcock 1). The shadows, more prominent than the anticipated are unsettling simply in this abnormality. The psycho aesthetic design is also adopted by James Mangold to enhance suspense in his film Identity. This technique most importantly created by the style of lighting provides gloomy details of the surroundings, especially in Norman’s house and Bates Motel (Mangold 1). It also conceals the psychological challenges Norman is undergoing throughout the film.
Just like the other techniques applied in the movie industry, the use of shadow is as important as the others. Shadows arguably are excellent ways of invoking moods in production. Shadow exposure, shadow shaping, and cucoloris are important aspects taken into account by this industry to leave most viewers in suspense (Gavankar 64). Contemporary horror films are full of spider webs that other than heightening the aspect of suspense, they instill a feeling of terror and fear in this genre. Also some parts of the films are blurred to prevent unintended audience from viewing what is not meant for them.
Another vital cinematic technique that makes The Birds and Identity exemplary works is the manipulation and use of perception through perspectives. This entails how Hitchcock manipulates what his audience perceives from the movie and what he delivers to the audience and the manner in which he delivers them. Filmmaker is able to manipulate the perception of his audience from what he gives them, he chooses what they see and what they do not want to see reminding them of their exclusion from that world and even the suspense. Like other, visual techniques, it is powerful the audience do not have to think about it to affect them. In the case of the film The Birds, the audience can easily perceive the coloring and lighting as of a calm situation (Hitchcock 1). However, the occurrences in the film are a manipulation of the viewers’ expectations. As epitomized by her character Lisa, Mangold’s most compelling moments in Identity are marked by ambivalence where the audience is placed in a state of two opposite direction at play (Mangold 1). Kaysen though not mentally insane, feels she is placed out of real world.
Contemporary movie industry heavily relies on the use and manipulation of perception through perspectives in the films. Conceptually, films denote the art of celluloid and the art of work as their major components in utilizing this technique to produce acceptable quality by the audience (Gavankar 89). The manipulation of the viewers’ expectation is a common art in the modern movies and is used by the directors to remind the audience that although they are part of the industry, they still are not in the world of the characters and the film as a whole.
In conclusion, movie producers and the industry in general ought to have the audience interests at heart while producing their movies. It should be open clear that movie production is not only based entertaining the viewers and meeting their expectations, instead they should also be presented with a roller coaster experience. In order to achieve this, the producers must do nothing less than embracing the Hitchcockian cinematic techniques discussed in this paper. The producers must make the cameras the storytellers in their movies, use lighting to create emotional talk in the audience as well creating emotions for the audience, make use of shadows to give the viewers the chance to complete the gaps, and also manipulate the audience to exclude them from the movie production. The comparative analysis presented here is aimed at postulating the importance of using Hitchcockian techniques in movie production.
Bays, Jeffrey M. Suspense with the Camera: A Filmmaker’s Guide to Hitchcock’s Techniques. , 2017. Print.
Gavankar, Nilu N. The Desai Trio and the Movie Industry of India. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2011. Print.
Hitchcock, Alfred. ” The Birds watch movies online.” YouTube, youtu.be/olwT0mPuvK0. Accessed 20 Oct. 2017.
Mangold, James. “Identity (2003).” YouTube, youtu.be/R5am4cpNR90. Accessed 20 Oct. 2017.
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Russell, William B. Cinematic Social Studies: A Resource for Teaching and Learning Social Studies with Film. , 2017. Internet resource.
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