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What cinematic techniques does Alfred Hitchcock use to convey suspense in the two key scenes in ‘Rebecca’?

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Andrew Riley 10 I "REBECCA" ESSAY "What cinematic techniques does Alfred Hitchcock use to convey suspense in the two key scenes in 'Rebecca'?" Throughout the film, suspense is built up until the very end. There are various methods of building suspense, such as the character positioning, background noise and use of shadows. The film centres on George Fortesque Maximillion Dewinter, who is known as Max, and his new wife, whose Christian name is never discovered in the film. Also featuring is the spirit of Maxs' dead wife Rebecca, whose spirit seems to haunt him at his stately home of Manderley, which is situated in the south of England. There are two key scenes in the film, one which has Max and his wife watching projector footage of their honeymoon, and a scene where Max's new wife almost commits suicide. In the projector scene, there are just two people who mainly feature. They are Max and his wife, watching footage of their honeymoon on a projector. The scene begins with the new Mrs. Dewinter closing an issue of "Beauty," the magazine for smart women, according to the cover. Mrs. Dewinter closes the magazine, which lied open at a design of a dress. The camera looks up, and the viewer sees Mrs. Dewinter admiring herself, wearing the same dress as featured in the magazine, and with her hair dropped and in a new curled style. ...read more.


In the light, Max has half his face lit up, showing his dark side. A dark side indeed does Max have, and that's exactly what his wife is in the dark about, because she does not know his deep secret about Rebecca. The two of them then sit back down to watch the projector footage, sadly reminiscing in silence. The scene then ends with stringed music, as the two sit down beside the projector, him on the right, and her on the left. The suicide scene begins quite cheerfully. Max and his wife are holding a ball at Manderley for the first time since Rebecca died, and Mrs. Dewinter is trying to look as glamorous as possible for what is her chance to show off herself as the lovely young Bride of Maxim Dewinter. At the front door, Max is greeting Giles and Beatrice, friends of his. Beatrice asks "Where is the child?" to which Max replies "Oh, she's upstairs." The way they look upon Mrs. Dewinter is not with contempt, but as if she is a commodity of a wife who is organising the ball just to have a few hours of child-like fun. Beatrice goes upstairs to see how Mrs. Dewinter is getting on with her costume, but is politely refused entry into the chambers of Mrs. Dewinter to add to effect and surprise when Mrs. Dewinter enters the great hall. ...read more.


Danvers, and with a very smug look on her face opens the windows which were like prison bars to Mrs. Dewinter, offering her an escape from a life which she so obviously doesn't want to carry on with. Mrs. Dewinter verges on the edge of the windowsill, with Mrs. Danvers stood right behind her, reminding her how easy it would be to just fall into the foggy night and take the easy way out. As the suspensary music becomes louder, and Mrs. Danvers' shadow seems to get bigger with the more Mrs. Dewinter crumbles, it really does look as if Mrs. Dewinter was about to jump. At the very minute it looked that she would end it all, large explosions come from the night sky; flares being fired from a ship that had ran aground, and would inadvertently find the body of Rebecca. The woman who had spiritually haunted her successor as wife of Maxim seemed to have saved her at the last moment. The music cuts out with the explosions, and Mrs. Dewinter runs down to find Maxim, casting Mrs. Danvers aside, and ruining her big chance to keep Manderley exactly as she wanted it, as a tribute to the life of Rebecca. The black and white presentation of these two scenes made very effective cinematography, as it added to emotion and suspense. Alfred Hitchcock used shadows and props to aid the conveyance of emotion a lot in these two key scenes, and it worked very well indeed. ...read more.

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