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Alfred Hitchcock, also
called ‘The Master of Suspense’, was an English director who has a career
spanning 6 decades.  He directed fifty
films during his life and is known as one of the best filmmakers in history, if
not the best itself. His movies are mostly of the thriller and suspense genre. His
great sense of direction and one of his most used techniques, named rightfully
after him; the Hitchcockian, is when the camera acts like the gaze of a person
which gives an effect as if the viewer himself is part of the film and can see
all the intimate details of the scene personally himself. Another one of his
techniques is the ‘Spider web’ technique, where normal objects would create
such a pattern that makes the viewer uneasy. This style of directing creates a
feeling of fear and anxiety, which is obviously the whole point of suspense
movies; keeping the viewer at the edge of their seats.

To have a proper film
in the end, the scenes go through a lot of processes, such as, screenplay,
acting, directing, and writing of the script and so on. However, one of the key
features to bring about a film, in the end, is its editing. Editing is a
process which is done after the production of the film is completed. It is to
do with raw footage of the film out of which shots are selected, put into
sequences and turned into scenes. Film editing consists of a technique called
‘Montage’, where a string of short shots are put into sequences to consolidate
space, time and information.

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Alfred Hitchcock used
montage in his films to create the feelings of suspense, anxiety and fear,
which worked remarkably. He used this technique in all of his movies; the most
notable ones are ‘psycho’, ‘dial M for murder’ and ‘rear window’.

Let’s use the movie
‘Rear Window’ as an example to further understand how a montage creates
feelings of suspense, anxiety and fear. ‘Rear Window’ was made in 1954 and is
of the thriller genre. It is known as one of the best films directed by Alfred
Hitchcock. The film is about a photographer, L.B. Jefferies, who breaks his leg
at a racetrack while taking photos. The incident leaves Jefferies stuck in his
apartment and he spends his days confined in a wheelchair looking out in the
courtyard through the rear window. Jefferies watches his neighbors through
their windows which are open because of a strong heat wave. Certain events lead
him to think that one of his neighbors, Thorwald, killed his wife. Until the
end of the movie, both the viewers and the characters are unsure whether the
murder even took place.

Now, coming to the
direction and editing, the opening shot of Rear Window is an iconic one. The film
opens with the camera zooming into each of the windows of Jefferies neighbor’s,
characterizing them by showing their activities. The tracking shots of zooming
into the windows add more depth to the establishing shot. These shots give the
viewer the sense that he is looking through the protagonist’s eyes by giving a
true feeling of how it would all be like if the viewer was in Jefferies’ place.
Each window in the courtyard shows a different story of the lives of the
characters, which makes the film have a parallel structure. Every time
Jefferies looks out the windows, the viewer never gets to really go inside any
of the apartments. In each shot, the frame of the windows, hallways or doorways
are shown.

Alfred Hitchcock
creates the feeling of anxiety by making sure that the audience feels that the
murder really did take place, but also negates that feeling by giving concrete
evidence against any one of Jefferies theory that Thorwald murdered his wife.
The evidence is provided by Jefferies’ friend, Doyle, who is also a detective.

The most important
things said throughout the film are said by Jefferies eyes. His reactions to
everything around him make the situations tense. The close up of his eyes and
the zooming out of the camera to what is happening adds more depth to the
tension and anxiety,

The most nail biting
scene comes as the climax and also leads the movie to its end. Over here the
viewer and the characters finally get to know if the murder took place and if
it did, then was it Thorwarld who committed it. The scene starts by a medium
close up of Jefferies as he watches the lights turn off in Thorwarld’s
apartment, which makes it seem like its empty. The camera then moves back to
the same medium close up of Jefferies who gets a phone call which he answers
but there is no response in the other end and the line goes dead. This reveals
that the person who called was not who Jefferies thought it was and that
Thorwarld had left his apartment. To show how dangerous this mistake was,
Hitchcock slowly zooms into the protagonist’s face until it ends in a close up.

It takes Jefferies a
moment to realize the danger after he looks at his neighbor’s window. Just as
the fear sits on his face, the camera zooms in. A noise from the hallway comes
and the camera moves towards the door, looking at it through Jefferies eyes. The
light coming from under the door looks important since it is from that door,
Thorwald will enter. This shot further tells that Jefferies is not being
paranoid but there is actually a weight to his fear.

From the door, the
camera moves back to Jefferies’ face but from a high angle close up. This
certain shot shows how stuck he and helpless he is in his wheelchair and his
small apartment, with nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. Further anxiety and fear
is built when the scene cuts back to the door and then an eye level shot of
Jefferies is shown, this continues but this time the camera is set above and it
shows him trying to maneuver his way around the small apartment.

Going back to the
doorway, a flick is heard and the lights go off, building even more tension.
Hitchcock adds a close up shot of the camera lens in Jefferies lap which
signifies its importance in the coming moments. 
Jefferies moves all the way back into the window to hide in the shadows,
but here lights come to play, the only things under the light is his broken
leg, which shows his disadvantage. Thorwald opens the door and from a low
angle, we can see his half lit face, making him look menacing and strong, and
further proving his dominance.

It is critical to use
close up and small shots to create such montages which foster the feelings of
fear and anxiety. During the whole above mentioned scene, because of
Hitchcock’s masterful editing, the viewer can’t help but fear for what is about
to happen next to Jefferies. 

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