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Theme Of Voyeurism In Alfred Hitchcock

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Alfred Hitchcock is known by many as one of the most defining and influential filmmakers of the horror genre. With innovative techniques and (at times) radical themes, Hitchcock has kept audiences captivated for decades. His movies are known for their remarkable camera work, suspenseful music, and ingenious plot. Each movie of his utilizes similar techniques and themes but yield vastly different and entrancing stories. One of the most recognizable motifs in Hitchcock’s work is the concept of the audience as a voyeur to the action of the story, a theme that did well to increase the suspense of the story. Hitchcock applied this technique as a means to blur the line between those perceived as innocent versus those perceived as guilty. He engaged the audience in a way that made even the darkest soul seems slightly endearing; he made the viewer’s privy to secrets that sometimes even the characters on screen weren’t aware of. A recurring theme in several movies, such as 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, and Vertigo, voyeurism is perhaps best used two of Hitchcock’s most recognizable works—Psycho and Rear Window. Many believe that the role of voyeurism helped establish the success of these films. As we enter the world of Psycho through Hitchcock’s lens, the camera first pans across a cityscape before it focuses on a single hotel room window that frames Marion and Sam in a state of partial undress. The first thing that one focuses on from this scene is the heavily implied sexual nature of their relationship. Considering the fact that Psycho was filmed in 1960, this was definitely a radical move on Hitchcock’s part. Coming back to the aesthetics of the scene, the opening sequence has the audience looking in through the hotel window with the bli... ... middle of paper ... ... definitely believed himself. Consider the concept of “government secrets” in North by Northwest. The film is completely driven by the notion of keeping government secrets out of the hands of the enemy (no allegiances defined). All one knows is that the secrets pertain to U.S. safety and an enemy of the country is attempting to flee with them. The lack of explanation regarding exactly what the government secrets are definitely leaves a lot of room for imagination. While some might think that this was a gap in Hitchcock’s story it allows audiences a chance to be more involved in the narrative. They are allowed to fill in the gaps and determine how sinister the secrets are, while considering the lengths the characters have gone to procure or protect them. Once again, Hitchcock does a wonderful job of drawing the audience directly into the scene as a dynamic player.
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