As a cinematographer, I see Alfred Hitchcock as one of the most influential people in the history of the silver screen. My synopsis of his films, however, will be through the eyes of a young man that has witnessed tragedy. I could sit and rant and rave about how Hitchcock was a great director, his films were awesome, etc. , but I’ll spare you of that. I would much rather discuss the attack, but since I must write this paper about his cinema work, I’ll try and compare the two movies we watched to the situation. I’ll start first with Rear Window.
Rear Window is a film that deals not only with the human instinct of voyeurism, but also with the sheer animalistic sadism that can be found deep within our natures. Rear Window demonstrated both of these observances, by showing most of the film through the eyes of a innocent bystander, an injured man who was simply trying to pass the time. We could compare Jimmy Stewart’s character to ever American on the morning of September 11, 2001. We were all going about our business, when all of the sudden we noticed an outburst of xtreme brutality.
In the end of the film, we see the group try and solve the puzzle by sending Grace Kelly’s character to investigate the apartment. We could also relate this to what the United State’s government is trying to do at this very moment; rummaging through the apartment of death to try and find anything that would be helpful in solving this catastrophe. All in all, I think Rear Window, one of the first of Hitchcock’s great films, is a picture that really somewhat contradicts it’s self by having two inconsistent themes: The innocence of the average human being, but also ow that same supposedly innocent human being can be so cruel and vicious.
Hitchcock had a tendency to make contradictions in his films, not in the films themselves, but in the underlying messages that those films carry. Take Psycho for example; it shows that even though we may suspect that someone or something has malevolent intentions, we are still shocked when they/it actually does something malevolent (as in the case of Norman Bates’ mother). We can see this like the attack on the World Trade Center itself. We didn’t expect such a sophisticated attack, but we knew there was evil foot. Yet after it happened we were still astounded when those two planes rocketed into the side of the Twin Towers.
North By Northwest, however, is a movie we should be looking to for hope and inspiration in a time like this. I do believe that this was not only Hitchcock’s greatest films, but also one of the greatest films of all time. I think every human has that fear of being pulled into a situation that they truly aren’t a part of, such as we see in Carrie Grant’s character. When we look at a situation like that, omeone’s world just turning upside down, we should respectfully think of the families of those that were killed in the bombings yesterday, for their worlds have truly been turned inside out.
We also see in the movie help from the least expected of allies, even those who stated that they would do nothing about it. We can compare that to the phone calls and press conferences that many of the countries have offered to us, even those who had spited us before (such as Iran). We know, however that there is always hope when we look at a movie such as this. We know that the good guy will always win in the movies, and that can give us a sense of hope and security, all be it a small sense.
I can think of nothing greater than the inspiration we can get when we have someone at our backs, and the entire world seems to be telling us that they’re on our side, just like the government agency was on Carrie Grant’s side in North By Northwest. We can also take from the movie that even though the bad guy my get away, that we can stop him. Alfred Hitchcock was a pioneer. He was so ahead of the rest of the filmmakers of his era, that he could see that human nature would e the cause of most of the problems facing the future.
He knew that by making films that dealt with experiences that we either have been through, don’t want to go through, or can only think about being through. The master of suspense took elements that, up until yesterday, scared the daylights out of us. We thought that the things Hitchcock made films about were just fiction to strike fear into our hearts. We thought that none of the themes of his movies would actually become parts of every day real life. We thought too much. All of our thoughts came crashing down with the Twin Towers yesterday morning.
Our hearts go out to everyone who had family in the Pentagon and in the World Trade Center. Let God bless all of them. I, for one, cannot believe the scenes I’ve been seeing on the T. V. It’s like watching a film in itself, like it’s not real. I do know, however, that as an American, and as a cinematographer, that I will keep trying to watch the news, and keep up on the developments. Hitchcock is like a myth more than a man. We could only think about what he would say about something like this, but I would imagine he would have made a great film about it, exposing the injustice of terrorism.