Week 7 Blog Assignment Hitchcock’s Sabotage

Please watch from (50:54-52:59)

I remember as a kid, one year for Christmas I got a VHS collection of 20 Alfred Hitchcock movies. But it was not until a couple years ago that I started watching them, I saw the classics The 39 StepsThe Man Who Knew Too Much, PsychoVertigo, Spellbound, Rebecca and a couple of his more famous TV episodes, but one day when i was bored over the summer I decided to watch some of his more esoteric films or the films that were not extremely monumental to his career like Alfred Hitchcock’s Murder, and especially Sabotage.

Sabotage stood out to me in its somewhat intrinsic sleepiness. The scenes are very dark and drawn out. The plot of Sabotage is about a family that owns a cinema. The head of the household is Karl Verloc who is not only a movie theatre owner but, a contracted terrorist. To make a long story short Verloc gives his son a bomb to deliver at the specific time of 1:45. However, the boy deviates from his fathers orders and ends up not delivering the package on time which sets off a ticking time bomb that is wrapped in package paper and adjacently held with a flammable film canister. The moment leading to the explosion was one of the most beautifully edited pieces in cinema that I have ever seen. This scene has meaning and arouses us as viewers at our psychological core, which is something that Hitchcock can do quite well. The montage presented by Hitchcock brings together meaningless shots and when combined creates a great sense of urgency within its context. The constant shots of the kid playing with the puppy show the innocence of both the kid and the puppy albeit, the shots of the clock changing its minute hand only getting closer and closer to 1:45 adds a sickening sense of urgency.

 The extra diegetic music is absolutely amazing and I would assume that would be part of the editing process as well. The way the score is arranged allows for a development that makes you want to run into the bus and save little Stevie from the bomb that is about to go off in his lap. Also the shots of the traffic and the stop lights also induce fear into the viewer, making us know for certain if the traffic persists the little puppy, the old lady and the bus attendant that allowed Stevie to get on with the promise that Stevie does not sit by him would all die tragically together. This scene has a psychological uneasiness to it due to its conflicting emotions. The innocence of the kid is contrasted with the reality of the bomb that is about to explode, and the time that is set at. We know how the kid will end up dead and since we know there is nothing that can stop his fate it is the feeling of sorry hope with in us that kicks in and fights for the kid; it is just human nature that we almost feel parentally responsible . I feel that by watching several Hitchcock films contrasting emotions through editing provide a certain tension within the viewer that creates psychological distress. 

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One thought on “Week 7 Blog Assignment Hitchcock’s Sabotage

  1. I guess I have too much time on my hands, but I went ahead and clocked the length of each edit. There’s a very strict pattern and progression of the cuts and their lengths. I assumed the natural progression of such a scene would be to shorten each edit as the scene went on to heighten the suspense. But each view of the box, streetlight, and clocks stay about the same, time wise. I personally think that a more dramatic progression would have made the scene more suspenseful. I understand the pattern of “nervous boy looking around-point of view looking at clock or red light-closeup of box”, but the scene has very little variation of shot lengths until the last second or so when we see flashes of the box exploding. It is not that the scene is drawn out, but it seems too rigid. Even a more variance of angles could have made it more interesting. I much prefer Hitchcock’s more stylized editing such as the shower sequence in “Psycho” or even the murder scene in “Dial M for Murder.” The editing in these films has less structure, but plays off of its unpredictability. I just find it more exciting.

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