Apr 3, 2012

Director Spotlight: Alfred Hitchcock, Master of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock, Los Angeles, 1969. Photo by Harry Benson.

Alfred Hitchcock first began making films during the silent film era, and so he had to find ways to tell the story visually by framing shots, using camera movements, and editing the sequences together. The creative techniques Hitchcock devised pioneered the way in which future directors approached their craft.
Rather than focusing primarily on the content of a film, Hitchcock was more interested in how to handle the material in such a way to create an response, and strived to invoke a strong reaction from the audience. Extreme close up shots revealing the character’s emotions or point of view shots exposed what the character was seeing. These techniques led Hitchcock to be one of the first auteur and one of the most influential directors of all time. Auteur directors use their creative control to create films, maintaining a strong personal style in their works.
Making cameo appearances was another one of Hitchcock’s signature styles. Out of 52 films, he appeared in 39 of the films. In his film Lifeboat, you can find Hitchcock in the before and after pictures shown in the newspaper.

To enjoy some of Hitchcock’s work, go to the John Steinbeck Film Festival. Lifeboat is the last film being screened at the festival this Wednesday.

Wed. April 4 | 6:30 p.m. | $5

Here's a short clip of Hitchcock sharing his views on evoking an emotion when creating a film.

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