Term Paper: Film Theory and Criticism

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Film Theory and Criticism

Hitchcock is the master of subtext and suspense, he is definitely a genius when it comes to creating memorable scenes that balance sensual tension, sensual innuendo, and comedy and up bring suspense seamlessly.

Briefly the plot outline of Hitchcock's movie "North by Northwest" (1959), is about a New York advertising executive who is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies. He begins his adventure in search of the real agent and is pursued across the States by both the spies and the government while being helped by a beautiful blonde.

Robin Wood in his book called "Hitchcock's films revisited, book two," gives a concrete example of how a movie should be analyzed taking in consideration the ideology of the movie, its genre and author's fingerprint. Wood stresses the fact that the aim of a critic is to see the work "as wholly as possible as it is - to be able to draw on the discoveries and particular perceptions of each theory, each position, without committing himself exclusively to any one."

Writing about ideology in cinema, Wood emphasizes that there is for sure an American ideology; the author names these ideologies "values and assumptions so insistently embodied in and reinforced by the classical Hollywood cinema." Giving such a list of values, Wood assures the reader that this list presents an ideology that is full of "contradictions and unsolved tensions."

Some of the examples of values given, witch should be taken in consideration when discussing "North by Northwest," are: "capitalism: the right of the ownership, private enterprise; progress, technology, the big city; success/wealth; America as the land where everyone can actually is/can be happy, all problems are solvable within the existing system; the classical Hollywood phenomena, the happy ending; the ideal male: the virile adventurer, potent, untrammeled man of action; the erotic woman (adventuress), fascinating but dangerous, liable to betray the hero or turn into a black panther."

The movie begins with the image of New York traffic in the windows of a gigantic building. Somehow the people are protected by the American democratic system, underlined by the big office building. The main character is at the beginning of the action as a common advertising man, who relies on modern civilization, he is fast talking, self-confident on the outside an immature. Shortly after the beginning of the movie Thornfill, the main character played by actor Gary Grant, is kidnapped, he is taken away from the monotony and safety of the city and led to an unknown mansion.

Thornhill understands that he has been mistaken with someone else and begins the journey of his life in order to set things right.

Probably one of the main ideological and thematic tensions in North by Northwest is encapsulated in the scene in witch Thornhill and the beautiful Eve Kendall meet on the train as an introduction to their future plans. Thornhill is on his way to find the real Mr. Kaplan and Eve is on the train to guide him to death. Of course "faith" doesn't want Thorn hill death. Take for example (one of many in which Thornihill escapes safe and sound), the famous crop dusting plane scene, in which Thornhill runs from the airplane bullets and doesn't get hurt a bit. Then it is worth mentioning the wheel scene, when Roger being drunk manages to drive the car through the winding road. He proves to be a man of action, who can concentrate under stress, but in the end the story must have a happy ending. The character is more mature and can get involved in a serious relationship after two failed marriages.

The fatal woman, who is well organized, and gets her plans to a deadly end, Eve Kendall, is actually a government agent working under cover for the state enemies. She… [END OF PREVIEW]

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