September 28, 2014

Alfred Hitchcock's Use of Eyes Becomes the Subject of This Excellent Video Essay

Vertigo
If eyes are the windows to the soul, then watching a Hitchcock film must be downright spiritual. Video essayist kogonada has culled a bunch of scenes from the work of Alfred Hitchcock to examine how the legendary director paid special attention to eyes in his films.

We love the video essays of kogonada, from his studies on neorealism to the use of hands in the films of Robert Bresson, and this one is no different. He manages to include such a wide variety of Hitchcock's films, as well as all of the iconic shots of eyes, like Jimmy Stuart's in Vertigo and Anthony Perkins' in Psycho.

So, Hitchcock likes eyes. So what? Why does any of this matter? Well, eyes are not only objects that can be peered into; they can also peer out. Eyes can be voyeuristic and voyeurism is a theme Hitchcock used constantly in his films (Rear WindowPsycho). And of course, eyes have an incredible capacity for relaying emotional messages. The viewer is constantly aware of where the eyes are looking, what they're looking at, and what emotion they're feeling while they're doing it. Essentially, Hitchcock mastered telling stories narratively and spacially, using eyes and eyelines -- so if you need a damn good teacher to show you how to do it to create suspense/tension/anticipation/etc., he'd be the one. (If you have time, you should definitely check out this study of Hitchcock's use of eyes as well.)     

Your Comment

8 Comments

The eyes are one part, important part, in suspense or, dramatic films. Give to you the level of the tension. Also it's hardest to the actores make their jobs but the result worth it.

Thanks Alfred for this aport.

September 29, 2014 at 2:49AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7462

Great video! simply amazing! Editing, Scene selection, music!

September 29, 2014 at 4:15AM, Edited September 29, 4:15AM

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Great video! However, you cannot have a video focusing on Hitchcock's use of eyes without the example in Young and Innocent! The eyes are practically what gave the villain away, and the shot itself is the best thing about the film!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0029811/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

September 30, 2014 at 5:13PM

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Okay, first of all, this is not an "essay." Yes, the shots are all iconic and powerful. So why did this guy have to make them all into tics and twitches??? It makes even the most emotional moments look s-t-u-p-i-d and laughable.

October 3, 2014 at 9:57PM

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Bob Byars
208

Completely agree, felt it belittled the effect.

October 4, 2014 at 6:36AM

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Kayode
634

One of the things I noticed recently from top cinematographers is how they manage to light the eye no matter how dark the scene is (except when the scene is meant to be pitch black).

October 4, 2014 at 6:35AM

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Kayode
634

Most would find this creepy, indeed. I, however, find it very inspirational.

October 30, 2014 at 2:56AM, Edited October 30, 2:56AM

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Paul Newton
Director
159

it's jimmy "stewart" not "stuart"

October 30, 2014 at 10:30AM, Edited October 30, 10:29AM

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