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An Analysis Of The Final Scenes Of Alfred Hictcock's Notorious

1164 words - 5 pages

After viewing Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious for the first time, thefilm did not strike me as particularly complex. Nothing specific about thefilm lodged itself in my brain screaming for an answer--or, at least, anattempted answer. Yet, upon subsequent viewings, subtle things becamemore noticeable. (Perhaps Hitchcock's subtlety is what makes him soenormously popular!) Hitchcock uses motifs and objects, shot styles andshifting points of view, and light and dark to help explain the relationshipsbetween Alicia, Devlin, Sebastian and Mrs. Sebastian, and an overalltheme of being trapped. An analysis of the film from the first poisoningscene to the final scene in the film shows how the above tools lead to abetter understanding of the character's motivations.The most obvious recurring object in the final scenes is thepoisoned coffee cup. In the first scene of the portion being analyzed,Sebastian suggests to Alicia that she drink her coffee, and Hitchcockzooms onto the object as she slowly takes a sip. In a later scene, Mrs.Sebastian pours the coffee into the cup for Alicia, and sets it on a smalltable in front of her. Here, Hitchcock not only zooms in on the smallteacup, but heightens the sound it makes connecting to the table, includesit in every shot possible, and shows us not only the full coffee cup, but theempty cup as well after Alicia has drank it. Again, the cup is zoomed inon after Alicia realizes she's being poisoned. Because the coffee ispoisoned, the coffee itself becomes a metaphor for life and death,supported by the fact that the poisoner herself ours it, and the shots of thefull and empty teacup. In this way, it also suggests Alicia's inability toescape her situation--whenever she drinks the coffee, she becomestrapped due to the poison in her cup--and the poison in her sham of amarriage..A repeated object not so noticeable is Mrs. Sebastian's needlework.Mrs. Sebastian is constantly working on her needlepoint while Alicia isbeing poisoned. Hitchcock, in fact, goes out of his way to make sure thata shot of her 'toiling at her work' is included several times. One cannothelp but be reminded of Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities--withMadame Defarge knitting everyone's fate into her work. At the beginningof the film, Devlin hands Alicia a handkerchief, and a scarf, which shekeeps, but returns to him in this segment. These pieces of cloththroughout the film help tie Alicia to the different characters, and inessence, help control her fate in different situations.Hitchcock's use of shot type is another hint into his character'spersonalities. Hitchcock is very fond of medium and close-up shots, andrarely uses a longer shot in the film. This may suggest to the audience tokeep a closer eye on the character's facial expressions, as Hitchcock letsthe actors express their thoughts and feelings in this manner. An excellentexample of this would be when Alicia realizes that she is beingpoisoned--Hitchcock zooms in on her wide-eyed expression as she...

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