Posted at May 27, 2020

North by Northwest Analysis

In the 1959 Hitchcock film “North By Northwest”, open space is used quite often throughout the run of the film. There are scenes out in the open at large restaurants and a scene in a field where Cary Grant is being chased by a crop duster. Hitchcock uses these particular scenes to provide tension for the audience. 

In the film a man named Roger Thornhill, played by Cary Grant, is kidnapped by two men who mistake him for somebody named George Kaplan. This leads Thornhill to go on the lamb and run into a young woman by the name of Eve Kendall, played by Eva Marie Saint. 

The first example of how they use open space in the movie is when Cary Grant is first seen in the restaurant when the two thugs abduct him and take him to Townsend estate. In this example, space is used to emphasize Thornhill’s impending danger as he is surrounded by multiple people yet none of them can do anything to help him, as both men have a gun to his head. 

Thornhill is helpless and he is forced to go with the two men, despite being in an open space, making the open space no longer at his disposal for help or any other resources for that matter, which intensifies the scene even more and draw the audience closer to the subject of the film.

The second example of how open space is used is when Kendall and Thornhill are in the  Mount Rushmore visitor center and Kendall shoots him in front of the entire crowd of people. Much like the restaurant, Thornhill, is helpless to do anything about his predicament and gets shot but that was all just a ploy for the two of them to meet in the forest and negotiate. 

This increases the tension by making the scene more contentious between the characters and putting a dynamic between the two, making the audience judge their relationship even further.

The next use of open space is when Thornhill is being chased by a crop duster in the middle of the field which is easily the most iconic scene in the entire movie and the crop duster crashes in front of a truck, which is how Thornhill manages to escape with his life. 

The audience is left with a thrilling chase that leaves them intensified with a sense of tension and uses that tension to stir within the characters.

The last example of how open space is used in the film is when Thornhill and Kendall climb up Mount Rushmore to evade the villains and eventually get rid of their infamous foes to be reunited again. 

This scene shows the tension of the climax of a scene and how it culminates into a huge brawl atop of Mount Rushmore.

In conclusion, the open space used in the scenes of the movie are used or tension and to build upon said tension, which elevates the narrative of the movie. This helps to create an unease inside of the audience and work well with how they react to the character’s motivations.



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