The Suspense of Horror

Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho is without a question the first film of its kind. Before the film came out in 1960 many “horror” films simply expressed a scare factor many times through a monster. Psycho is the first non classic Hollywood film that takes the horror genre and creates a more suspenseful approach, creating a new level of scare. Hitchcock’s auteur style and other suspense characteristics allow for the film to show little to no blood, but allow for the viewers to believe a gory death occurred.

Perhaps the most suspenseful part of the film is watching the character Norman Bates look through a peephole into Marion Crane’s room. The  scene allows for the viewers to get that suspense factor and wonder what is Marion’s fate. The viewer also is never given the true reason behind this voyeuristic action performed. The next collection of scene simply shows a figure stabbing Marion to death. During the stabbing scene the viewer does not know if it is indeed Norman, or perhaps it is Norman’s mother a character not yet featured on screen.

The shower stabbing scene is by far the most famous scenes of this featured film. Hitchcock was a smart man; he was able to give the idea that Marion was naked, without any need to express full nudity. Classic Hollywood films had very strict moral codes and nudity was not one allowed on screen, neither was the use of gory blood shots. However, Hitchcock walked right on the line when it came to those production codes. The blood in the scene was not gory nor was it displayed, but the viewer was able to get a feel for the horrific action; the screaming of Marion allowed for true suspense too.

Many other classic Hollywood films have death scenes within the picture, but Psycho took death and murder to another level. Classic Hollywood films, for example Mildred Pierce, used guns to commit murders, but Psycho used a knife. The use of a knife created that slasher type of genre. This knife approach, a sweeping motion up and down along with the highs and lows of the music created suspense.

Psycho also creates suspense within it’s name, Psycho. Not only is the movie a horror film that takes a suspenseful approach, but the movie is also a psychological thriller. The viewer is able to see what is shown on screen, but is never fully allowed in the mind of the characters on screen. Yes Marion does have inner conversations of others during a voiceover scene, but the viewer does not know entirely why she is stealing the money and going to Sam. Also, the viewer does not know why Marion was murdered. The viewer is given some range, but very little depth when it comes to the narrative. Thus creating more suspense and more horror for the film. It is not until the end of the film that the viewer learns that Norman is acting as his mother. Even this idea is suspenseful to the audience, because it is the unknown even at the end.

Singing to Singin’ in the Rain

There is no doubt that the film Singin’ in the Rain is a Hollywood Classic. The narrative, editing, and even mise-en-scéne create the overall classic Hollywood film narrative.  While watching the film, the viewer is able to get caught up in this love story. As well, with all Hollywood love stories, there is an antagonist as well as a protagonist. Throughout the film the viewer is able to easily connect the storyline and identify the  villain. This plot tragectory is typical of a Hollywood film and it is also present in the film Singin’ in the Rain.

All classic Hollywood films follow a basic plot. The narrative begins with a conflict, which then leads to a causality, this causality creates a climax leading to the falling actions, and finally the end of the film. In the film Singin’ in the Rain the conflict deals with silent films adding sound, instead of just music. This change in cinema creates a problem or conflict for the actors on camera. The character, Lina Lamont does now have a voice that is very soothing on camera. This is where the film follows the classic Hollywood plot trajectory. The conflict arises and the other characters in the film must find a way to make a “talkie” film work with Lina’s unappealing voice.

The plot line then deepens with the addition of Kathy’s character. A struggling performer who is able to actually sing, dance, and act. The Hollywood storyline allows for the main character, Don Lockwood, to fall in love with Kathy. This love affair creates another complication because Lina is in love with Don.

To create the causality of the original conflict the plot allows for Kathy to be Lina’s voice in the upcoming film. However, Lina finds out that Kathy is her VoiceOver and is furious. This plot rising action allows for the viewer to recognize the antagonist as well as the protagonist. These actions deepen th plot while maintaining the classic Hollywood film story.

Classic Hollywood cinema follows simple guidelines for a narrative. One guideline includes the vilian to ultimately be punished. During the film, Singin’ in the Rain, the vilian is Lina Lamont. The climax in the story comes once Lina figures Kathy to be her voiceover. Lina manipulates the media into thinking that she voices the entire film herself not Kathy. This cause for power leads to Lina’s demise, like most Hollywood vilians. The falling action in the film comes when Lina is forced to sing, which leads to Kathy singing behind Lina disguised by a curtain. Kathy is revealed as the true singer and Lina is now humiliated.

Classic Hollywood films are almost easy to predict, because they all follow the same plot tragectory. The guy gets the girl, the vilian is exposed and punished, and the viewer is able to handle the story. Singin’ in the Rain depicts a classic Hollywood film narrative because of these three factors as explained above. In classic Hollywood films the viewers were to be entertained, and this film allows for entertainment.

Metropolis Costume

Costumes make a character. Actually, all aspects of the mise en scenè make a character, but the costume adds just the right amount of character into a film. Many people watching the film Metropolis, may not notice the simple costume changes, or costumes on a certain character because the film is in black in white. However, when watching the film it is very noticeable that the workers down below the earth of Metropolis were filmed wearing dark, dirty, and unkept clothing. While the people above ground, living in the actual city of Metropolis are see wearing white, proper or classy entire. The use of the costumes also describes the separate class levels, which will be discussed below.

The opening scene of Metropolis shows a shift change for the workers. It is in this scene that the viewer is able to see the first costumes of the film. The workers are shown with their heads down, slowing walking in multiple lines to the depths of Metropolis to begin work. Their work attire is similar to a modern day prison outfit; a full workers suit, dark seen material, with a hat, and heavy work boots. Upon a closer look, when Feder, the main character of the film, goes down below to replace lives with a worker more detail in their costume is revealed. Georgy, the worker, has not only his name, but also a number to characterize his place. This again gives a resemblance to a prison, labeling workers by numbers and names.

When you take a look at the other spectrum, the residents of Metropolis, the color scheme changes. When the viewer is first shown the citizens of Metropolis they are viewed wearing all white, and with smiles on their faces. The viewer is also shown the people of Metropolis in suits and ties, the women is fancy lace dresses, and everyone is having a great time. As well when the viewer is taken to Feder’s father’s building we are shown the “boss” wearing a classic suit for work and the people working for the boss in work suits as well.

This difference in attire and costume, not only generalizes the characters, but it also creates a class difference that is created throughout the film. The film is simple, about a mediator for the city, a person to be the heart to connect the head, Feder’s father, and the hands, the workers under the ground of Metropolis. Now in the beginning the mediator is seen wearing upper class costume, but throughout the film he is shown in the worker’s costumes. It is not until the end of the film, when both the head and the hands connect, does it show Feder in a costume that represents both classes. He has been in a fight and his “proper” clothes are now torn and look to be dirty like the workers. This costume choice surprising brings together the film and the mise en scenè for the ending. Without the costume approach that is taken in this film, it would be harder for the viewer to recognize not only the story, but over meaning.