Step Inside Alfred Hitchcock's Brilliant Attention to Detail in Film

Most people will agree that Alfred Hitchcock was a master of film. "Vertigo" may have been his biggest masterpiece. It's a subtle and meticulously crafted film that weaves complex storylines into a thrilling experience for the viewer. It's amazing to examine just how thorough Hitchcock truly was. Studying his methods can greatly inform your own filmmaking.

As photographers and videographers, it's easy for us to frequently focus on perfecting the technical side of our work, and surely, this is a valuable pursuit. However, it's not all there is. Paying attention to developing the art of storytelling is equally important. What earned Hitchcock his "Master of Suspense" moniker was his incredible attention to detail (spurred by his notorious perfectionism) that guided stories in a way that nonetheless remained totally organic. If you've not seen his films, I highly recommend you watch them, both for their educational value and for the pure entertainment. "Notorious," "Rear Window," "Psycho," "North by Northwest," "Strangers on a Train," and of course, "Vertigo" are all good starting points. 

In this video, Evan Puschak provides some great insight into his process by examining the blocking of a pivotal scene in "Vertigo." Without giving away too many spoilers, there's a serious game of power exchange and manipulation happening here, but the brilliance of this scene is that Hitchcock is not only manipulating one of the characters, but the audience as well. It's a great lesson in how controlling a scene can control your audience's reaction.

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5 Comments

Bill Mcdad's picture

Great Study! I think it would be nice to mention the creator of the video linked in your article. His name is Evan Puschak.

Alex Cooke's picture

Thanks for the find!

Alex Cooke's picture

I know what you mean; I typically don't engage with the machinery of a piece of art until it's had a few years to knock around in my system. Nonetheless, for those of us are interested in making such art, these can be important studies. Enjoy watching "Vertigo!" In 2015, I got to watch it with the soundtrack performed live by the Cleveland Orchestra. That was a treat.

Alex Cooke's picture

Oh wow, that must have been absolutely incredible! Yeah, seeing it with the orchestra was really neat; I saw a Chaplin movie done that way too, and it's so immersive and so much fun.

filmkennedy's picture

Hitchcock truly was one of the greatest filmmakers of all time-and is in my top 3 list, his films are still very relevant today which is the best test for any artist.
There aren't too many filmmakers even today who has shown this much attention to detail consistently in their films, only Fincher comes to mind when you break down his scenes like this video does.