Film Studies 6
North by Northwest
North by Northwest is Alfred Hitchcock's most enjoyable film. It has mystery, comedy, romance, thrills and suspense. It has a great main character and a hot blonde who he falls for. One of the keys to the brilliance of the film is the way the director tells the story. There are two basic forms of narration in telling a story, omniscient and restricted. Omniscient allows the viewers to know everything while the restricted form puts the audience in the shoes of one of the characters. This film has both because at the beginning of the movie the audience knows more than Thornhill and but we do learn information late. We do not find out that Mr. Kaplan does not exist until Thornhill has already been searching for him and we do not learn that Eve Kendall is an agent until Thornhill does. Because we don't know what's going on either, this makes for mystery and confusion.
In North by Northwest, Hitchcock uses a combination of these two forms of narration to explain a complex plot. For the first 40 minutes the viewer is Roger Thornhill, and has such has no idea who George Kaplan is and what Vandamm wants from him. Thus we have our first example of intrigue, something which is maintained right up until it is revealed that Kaplan is in fact a non-existent decoy, invented by the government to catch Vandamm. But while we now know more than Thornhill, it doesn't really explain anything. The next shift in tone occurs when we see Eve sending a note to Vandamm. Suddenly, suspense is added to intrigue and there is a new concern for Thornhill and suspicion of who Eve is.
Halfway through the film, comes a well filmed scene. By now we know that Eve is not to be trusted so when she sets up a meeting with Kaplan for Thornhill, while he is eager to find out who this mystery man is, we can only suspect that this isn't going to end well for Thornhill. Thornhill arrives at the supposed rendezvous point, an empty spot to say the