Essay on Alfred Hitchcock's Works of Crime Fiction

Essay on Alfred Hitchcock's Works of Crime Fiction

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Creative works are organised into a specific genre. Genre can be concisely defined as a set of conventions and expectations which audiences will grow accustomed to over time. Conventions within a genre will limit and shape the meaning perceived by audiences. Through time, as contexts alter, so do values; though conventions remain the same. Some composers make their texts more appealing once they challenge the original conventions of a genre and thus attract a wider audience. By doing this, composers are able to present their audiences with new themes and values relative to their social contexts. Crime fiction has often adapted these processes and has become a genre of its own with intriguing plots fuelling the audience’s inquisitive nature. English director, Alfred Hitchcock (also known as ‘The Master of Suspense’) was an expert in creating the desired amount of suspense within a crime film. He was able to transfer the values of his context on to the silver screen and subvert traditional conventions. Hitchcock’s film ‘Rear Window’ (1954) displays a perfect example of how the conventions of crime fiction can be appropriated to still involve the traditional features of crime. Through his use of exquisite cinematic techniques and immense detail, responders are given the thrill they expect of the genre.
The Golden Age of crime fiction during the 1920s – 1940s introduced sub-genres, one of them being the Intuitionists, which is unconventionally represented in the film ‘Rear Window’. Protagonist L. B. Jeffries (Jeff) is placed in a closed setting made cosy by the cast around his broken leg. Here, responders can see the physical portrayal of a cosy setting shown by Hitchcock as opposed to the traditional isolated English manor cosy port...


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...ying on them. Although voyeurism is seen as wrong, it was committed by Jeff to show the lengths some individuals would go to during the McCarthy era to ensure their neighbours weren’t communist. A convention of the attention to ordinary details such as the close-up of the thermometer (showing a high temperature) in the opening scene, serves as a purpose for Jeff to begin his window-watching recreation. Lisa reminds Jeff that, “… sitting around looking out of the window to kill time is one thing but doing it the way you are with binoculars and wild opinions about every little thing you see is – is diseased!” Her warning affirms what people of their context were doing out of political paranoia. Being hard-boiled, the film gave Hitchcock the freedom to bend the conventions and make a serious comment that suspicious neighbours may actually be guilty of horrible crimes.

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