Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hitchcock's Style

The British Film Institute hosts a great web site, screenonline, the definitive guide to Britain's film and TV history. Director Alfred Hitchcock's early film work is the subject of Mark Duguid's article, Hitchcock's Style.

Speaking to Hitchcock's visual storytelling ability, Duguid writes:

"The limitations of the silent form led filmmakers to develop a visual language to enable them to say with images what they could not using dialogue or sound. By the time of the arrival of sound in 1927 (later in Europe) this filmmaking language had become so sophisticated that sound was felt by some to be almost unnecessary. Others - including Hitchcock - felt that the arrival of sound meant that something was lost to cinema. Directors were no longer forced to tell a story using images alone, and cinema's distinctively visual storytelling suffered as a result.

Throughout his career, Hitchcock continued to believe in cinema as a visual medium... when we think of Hitchcock we tend to remember images - the shower scene in Psycho (1960) or the handcuffed Robert Donat and Madelaine Carroll in The 39 Steps (1935) - rather than lines of dialogue."

Unfortunately those of us outside the U.K. can't view the film clips included with the article. (Damn that revolutionary war anyway!)

In any case, a number of Hitchcock's early British films are available on Google Video. Here's his great The 39 Steps. (Let the clip play for a while. For some reason there is about 30 seconds of black leader before the film begins.)

1 comment:

Frankotaco said...

great little blog. its so true about Hitchcock. In my eye, he was more of a cinematographer AND director then just a director. i have just started taking a Hitchcock specific film class this semester that i have been dieing to take for some time now. (it's a 300 level class, so i had to rise threw the ranks.) but studying him is a must for any film maker in my opinion. and if you didn't know there is a dvd set...i think i got mine at the local walmart for like 10 bucks, that has like 4 discs of ALL of Hitchcock silent era and early sound era work. pre feature film career. haven't watched all of it but its amazing and suggest it to anyone interested in him.