“The Man Who Knew Too Much”
Cinema & New Media Arts | On Feb 22, 2013
The Criterion Collection has republished an analysis of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1934 The Man Who Knew Too Much from David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson’s textbook Film Art. Click the image below to read the full post.
As the sequence approaches its climax—emphasized by more rapid rhythms of music and editing—Hitchcock boldly begins to play with the image through shifts of focus. Jill looks up through her tears (image 1); then the blur (image 2) fades to white (image 3), and the muzzle of a rifle pokes into the shot (image 4). The series closes with Jill’s new knowledge of the situation, registered by her looking across to Ropa’s box seat (images 5 and 6). The dissolving of the blur to a white background for the rifle represents both the optical and mental movement of Jill’s attention at the very moment that she realizes what is to happen in the Albert Hall. These shots bring to maximum intensity the sequence’s attempt to present the action through Jill’s eyes and mind. (Contrast this with His Girl Friday, which seldom utilizes subjective techniques.)