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North by Northwest, Movie Review Example

Pages: 1

Words: 357

Movie Review

North by Northwest is a 1959 film by British director Alfred Hitchcock.  The film revolves around a case of mistaken identity and espionage.  In the film, Cary Grant plays Robert Thornhill, an advertising executive whose identity is mistaken for George Kaplan, a man that does not exist. Thornhill is persecuted and chased halfway across the country and becomes inadvertently embroiled in a case of espionage.  Through carefully paced editing, Hitchcock is able to instill a sense of urgency and suspense into an otherwise mundane everyday environment.

One of the most memorable scenes in the film occurs about halfway through the film as Thornhill pretends to be a luggage porter helping Eve Kendall, played by Eva Marie Saint, as she concurrently helps him make his escape; unbeknownst to Thornhill, Eve is an actual conspirator who is using Thornhill to apprehend Phillip Vandamm, played by James Mason.  In this sequence, Thornhill is trying to elude capture by the police for his involvement in the murder of a man at the U.N.  When the police realize Thornhill has eluded them by dressing up like a porter, they rush the crowd and begin searching every porter in sight.  Hitchcock is able to create urgency and suspense through editing by progressively closing in each porter as he is grabbed and spun around by police—the shots appear to transition from a wider angle to a close-up before cutting to the next scene showing that Thornhill has successfully eluded capture.  Moreover, Hitchcock the camera angles add to the urgency and suspense as they jump from high-angle, wide shots to tighter and more eye-level camera shots.   These transitions help to emphasize the confusing environment and the pressure to identify and capture a man that does not really exist.  Additionally, the music that accompanies this sequence complements the montage and the upbeat tempo, in conjunction with the film editing, heighten the sense of urgency in the film.

In North by Northwest, Hitchcock takes advantage of a frame’s space, whether it is full of people like in the train station or desolate like in the cornfields, to create tension and suspense both on screen and among the audience.

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