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Close Up (1929) - As Is: By The Editor (December)






With the advent of sound will come in time sound imagery too. I pointed out in an article on Blackmail that in one instance at least, Hitchcock made use of the associative symbolism of sound. To an overwrought girl, guilty of murder, the sound of the shop bell becomes a clanging crescendo ending in a kind of scream. You might call that inferential. But it is physical, too. The sound has come through her ears and has been translated to her but (equally to us, who are accredited with the super-power of being able to see and hear her unconscious) as the warning blare of danger. "Through that door may come the police". It is because of us, because we have to be enlightened, that film can never be purely expressive. What we are seeing is what has been turned to us, not unlike, in primary intention, the theatre method of setting the stage and everybody on it to face the audience. We are not watching something happening to somebody else, we are experiencing our own reaction to something which has been dissected and spread out for the precise purpose of our comprehension, and unconscious participation. Film is, in other words, a process of explanation — the simplest form of which is action. The film of riding, racing, flying, and so on. The highest form is not the film of inference and suggestion, though that, evidently, is far above the film of simple movement, but the film of imagery and action — psychology and physiology, or, better still, psychology through physiology. But here we are getting into deep water, though I shall hope to be able to navigate it in some forthcoming issues.

Kenneth Macpherson.