Master of Suspense: The Films of Alfred Hitchcock
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Media Studies
Course Number: NFLM 3006
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
- Media Studies
- Film & Video History, Theory & Criticism
Alfred Hitchcock was both a masterful technician and a uniquely gifted storyteller. His films are remembered equally for their riveting narratives and for their cinematic innovations. Most of his films are psychological thrillers, but all are marked by his wry humor and distinctive reflections on contemporary sociopolitical conditions. Hitchcock’s bold style revolutionized film technique, particularly shot composition and editing. His films of the 1950s and 1960s, touching upon themes of suspicion, espionage, and voyeurism, could serve as a visual documentary history of the Cold War. This class studies four of Hitchcock’s greatest films: Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960), Rear Window (1954), and North by Northwest (1959). Students watch one film weekly outside of class and read related texts assigned by the instructor, approaching the films from the standpoints of history and feminist, formalist, and structuralist film theory. We discuss and deconstruct narrative elements and the social context of the films and examine filmic elements—lighting, framing, shot composition, editing, and sound design. This is one of three five-week courses on world cinema auteurs that complement one another when taken sequentially.