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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Hitchcock, The Artist - 1222 words
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Hitchcock, The Artist "Shadow of a Doubt" was one of those movies I would flip right past if it happened to be on television. If I knew that it was a Hitchcock film, perhaps I'd pause for a few seconds to see if it looked scary. If it didn't captivate me within those few seconds, I'd cruise right by until I found MTV. But, being somewhat forced to watch "Shadow of a Doubt" in class, I had no choice other than to buckle down and pay attention. I was pleasantly surprised.
I expected some twists and turns, since it is an Alfred Hitchcock film. I didn't expect the suspense or the romance. It was surprisingly entertaining in both plot and dialogue. I could tell by the many different film elements that this was a trademark Hitchcock film. "Shadow of a Doubt" is an Alfred Hitchcock work of art, because of its originality, openness to interpretation, and different approach to suspense
"A work of art" is defined by Encarta Encyclopedia Online as "something made or done exceptionally well." This film was unquestionably done well, if not exceptionally well. But, what does "done well" mean? I think it means that the work is completed fully with the best efforts of everyone involved. Not only is it fully researched, but meticulously planned and painstakingly designed. Therefore, the work in question is more like a child to those who created it, rather than a work of art. It contains their blood, sweat, and tears, and maybe a little insight into their minds.
So, in the case of "Shadow of a Doubt" it is a work done well, by Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock was quoted in a 1998 review of "Shadow of a Doubt", by Ted Prigge as saying "he enjoyed playing the audience like a piano." Hitchcock did this almost effortlessly in this film (1). He had the ability to scare people, without shoving horror down their throats. It's what separated him from any other director of suspense: he knew the secret to scaring people was preying on real human emotions (1). His subtlety is what took "Shadow of a Doubt" from an everyday movie to an intricate thriller.
Movies of the past had a different approach to scaring the audience. In the 20th century, scary movies were more than entertainment. They were designed to lure the viewer into buying the action figures and tee shirts that the movie had spawned. They gave you nightmares. They used computer-enhanced special effects that took years to complete. They used robots as actors.
The movies of the past were based more on cinematography and their musical scores. People evaluated the dialogue and acting. The plots were more than just ideas thrown together to create a feasible story. They were creative tales crafted by writers with more than just success in mind. Action was not needed to keep the audience's attention in "Shadow of a Doubt." In fact, the film was very mild mannered in the action department, and it opted to work with the suspense of humanity rather than the suspense of easy thrills (1). Hitchcock knew in order to be scary, he had to be able to enter the viewer's mind and find their weakness.
This personalization and concentration on affecting the viewer is another way "Shadow of a Doubt" is a "work of art". "Shadow of a Doubt" seemed to be about a murder running from the law. But, for those who wished to dig a little deeper, you could see that it is wholly more about the uncanny relationship between Uncle Charlie and young Charlie, his ill-fated niece. Young Charlie herself said that she and her uncle were "like twins." They shared a strange way of communicating, which at times seemed totally inappropriate and weird. Young Charlie was able to see into her uncle's mind in a way that she would soon regret.
When she felt bored and wished for some action, Uncle Charlie appeared on the train. Then, Uncle Charlie hid a portion of the newspaper that contained an incriminating news story, and Charlie knew he was up to no good. When young Charlie discovered that her uncle was, in fact, the "Merry Window Strangler", he somehow knew that she was onto him. Uncle Charlie pleaded for Charlie to help him escape anonymously because they "are no ordinary uncle and niece". In the end, young Charlie knew that her uncle was going to harm her the minute she stepped on the train. But, Charlie ended up committing the ultimate sacrifice: saving herself and ending the life of the formerly beloved Uncle Charlie. The relationship between the two was played out through the entire movie.
The viewer ended up growing fonder of brave young Charlie, and more disgusted with Uncle Charlie's inability to control his impulses. It almost seemed as if the two could be the same person, young Charlie as just the "good persona" and Uncle Charlie as the "bad persona". "Shadow of a Doubt" was not a typical scary flick. It had depth and was open to the interpretation of the viewer. They were able to view Charlie however they wanted without losing the integrity of the plot.
The freedoms to interpret the film and adapt it to one's personal ideas reinforces the notion that "Shadow of a Doubt" is a "work of art." Some may have said that the romance between young Charlie and Graham, the police officer, was out of place and devalued the plot. In fact, the romance helped reinforce the prevailing message of the movie: good triumphs over evil. The love between Graham and Charlie was innocent and new. They met and fell in love while investigating Uncle Charlie. Young Charlie began by shunning Graham in favor of protecting Uncle Charlie.
She soon learned that Uncle Charlie was not the mild-mannered man she had known and loved. She then began to take her love from her uncle and give it to Graham, another "good persona". The declaration of love between young Charlie and Graham, and death of Uncle Charlie made for a true "happy ending" Hitchcock-style. That kind of happy ending would be unusual in other films, but that originality is what made this film a true work of art. The criteria for what make something a "work of art" is open for personal interpretation. Many "works of art" in prestigious galleries would seem like scribbles to me, whereas they are priceless to others.
"Shadow of a Doubt" is a work of art because its creator concentrated all he had on its conception. A work of art is a personal thing, especially to the artist. But, it is also provokes emotions from it's viewers. Just as a painting or sculpture can evoke tears, a film can influence lives. Not to say that "Shadow of a Doubt" will change any lives, but could change the way someone views film or literature.
When a film is able to make the viewer contemplate the character's motivation or analyze the relationships between main actors, it is a success. A film should touch on the most primitive emotions, whether it is fear, love, anger, greed, hate, or mistrust. When an audience reacts instinctively, then the characters are assuredly human. When a director devotes all they have to their film, it is then a work of art capable of changing lives.
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