Intro to Film Essay

Submitted By Jonny-Spataro
Words: 1516
Pages: 7

In the movie Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951) the director is able to show the message that no matter how innocent or evil a man might seem to be they are made up of both these elements in order to be considered a whole man. From the opening scene of the movie Hitchcock, Bruno and Guy are able to show how they are innocent yet evil at the same time through the conversation they have when they first meet on the train. Hitchcock is able to do this by using certain angle camera shots, shadows, lighting, types of imagery and how he chooses the attire for his characters. A signature move by Alfred Hitchcock is to incorporate x imagery (Yacower, 1977) in his films which is no surprise why he uses this technique to show the main theme of strangers on a train. The x imagery technique in this movie is used to show that if a person acts innocent they still have the capability of doing evil things and the unity of both these attributes is what makes that man whole. This technique is also represented in movies by an actual x. Before the scene on the train begins the camera angle is from the train’s point of view and from this point of view we see the train tracks in the shape of an x. While we are in the train’s point of view it shows the train driving straight on the tracks then takes an unexpected turn to go in the other direction. This shows that this train ride is not going to be what the main characters expected and is going to steer their lives into a different direction. Guy and Bruno are also able to show how their characters are innocent and evil by the way they use tone while they are acting out the scene. The way Hitchcock, Guy and Bruno use these techniques in such a perfect way is how they are able to portray that every man has evil in them even if they appear to be innocent and that is the only way a man can be considered to be whole. In the opening scene of strangers on a train Hitchcock is able to make Bruno seem innocent yet evil at the same time simply by using techniques such as lighting, shadows and the way he has dressed him. The scene begins with the camera doing a low angle shot just showing us everybody’s feet moving inside the train station. By just shooting the people’s feet in the beginning scene Hitchcock shows the spectators how many people go in and out of the train station and how you are able to run into just about anyone. After the shot of the people’s legs walking around in the station Hitchcock introduces us to the main characters of the film for the first time by doing a cross cut of both characters leaving their taxis and walking to the station. During the cross cut Hitchcock uses a technique called mickymousing (Understanding Movies, 2011) to mimic the characters actions with musical equivalents to build up the moment for when Guy and Bruno first meet. When both the characters exit their taxi’s the music is a soft tone but as they get closer to each other the music begins to get faster and is now producing a darker sound. This foreshadows that when the two characters get together they are going to bring out a darker or more evil side from each other. While the music is playing the camera continues to do a low angle shot only giving the spectators a view of each characters shoes. Hitchcock uses a technique called mise en scene by using the characters outfits including their shoes to give the spectator an opinion on what the characters are like. Bruno is dressed in white shoes which symbolize that he represents good. To go with Bruno’s white shoes he is wearing a tie with his name on it and explains that he only wears it to keep his mother happy. By making Bruno wear white shoes and a tie just to keep his mother happy portrays him as an innocent character however the cinematographer is able to show that Bruno can also have a dark side by the way he uses the lighting and shadowing throughout the conversation. After Bruno moves beside Guy and begins to talk to him there is a dark shadow…