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The Style of Alfred Hitchcock: Films for the Focused Mind

Shoshana Milgram

Presented at: OCON 2004

Date: Jul 10, 2004

 We will examine six classic films directed by Alfred Hitchcock:
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps 
  • Young and Innocent 
  • Shadow of a Doubt
  • Strangers on a Train
  • North by Northwest
  • To Catch a Thief
Ayn Rand described Hitchcock as an artist of stature, and as a Romanticist. His films, said Hitchcock, were not "slices of life," but "slices of cake"–because "drama is life with the dull spots removed." Hitchcock took seriously the artistic task described by Ayn Rand in "Art and Cognition"–that of conditioning our consciousness. "The filmmaker's responsibility," he said, "is to cultivate audiences capable of noticing and appreciating subtleties." His signature device–elegant dramatic suspense–shows respect for the spectator's mind by "letting the audience into the secret." His style rewards purposeful attentiveness. By analyzing esthetic integration in his work, we can sharpen our viewing skills. 

(Revision of a course offered in 1997.)


Parts: 3

Handout: none