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Sequence Essay

1334 words - 6 pages

A repertoire of filmmaking techniques is fundamental to the establishment of a film’s storyline by conveying explicit and implicit ideas and by taking the viewer through a heightened emotional journey. Alfred Hitchcock employs his unique film style to augment the patterns of narration in the monumental film, Vertigo. The narrative patterns follow the male protagonist, Scotty, who is inescapably drawn into the conflict of the story as he unceasingly follows Madeleine, the female protagonist. Overall, the film employs a restricted narrative in which the audience’s knowledge is equal to that of Jimmy Stewart’s character, Scotty. The Muir Woods sequence in Vertigo conveys patterns of narration through the combined elements of editing, mise-en-scene, cinematography, and sound.
The shots are uniquely assembled to form the visual and narrative whole of the Muir Woods sequence in Vertigo. Various aspects of editing, such as shot transitions, rhythmic and temporal relations, and continuity elements, help to enhance the action throughout the scene. The sequence is almost entirely divided into separate shots by straight cuts, although more sophisticated shot transitions are also employed. It is introduced from the previous scene and leads into the proceeding scene by use of dissolve shot transitions. The intentional placing of the dissolves at the beginning and end of the Muir Woods scene symbolize Scotty’s gradual, heightening involvement in the narrative’s conflict. Prior to this scene, Scotty had only reluctantly followed Madeleine around and had saved her life due to innate human instincts. The Muir Woods scene represents the first time Scotty willingly becomes involved with Madeleine, and both dissolve cuts are symbolic of this transition. Throughout the scene, dynamic editing techniques aid in the creation of the visual whole. Primarily, the length of the scene is facilitated by the use of ellipses, for instance, between shots two and three, five and six, and many more. Match-on-action further enhances the fluidity of the scene by accomplishing a more natural flow to Scotty and Madeleine’s movements while keeping the story move in the anticipated direction. For example, when Madeleine wonders into the forest, Scotty’s curiosity provokes him to start walking in that direction, as seen in shot 17. The action is immediately continued in shot 18, as Scotty continues his quest for Madeleine, keeping the viewer engaged in the situation. The arising suspense from these two shots results from the prior use of accelerated editing rhythm. There is a series of short shots, 12-17, which show Madeleine venturing away and Scotty’s bewildered reaction. The tension and suspense build as each shot captures Madeleine walking further away until she seems to disappear in between shots. In sum, the editing techniques serve to explicitly enhance the action and implicitly convey the narrative.
Vertigo’s patterns of narration are also illustrated by the elements of...

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