The Crop Duster Sequence Of North By Northwest

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In This essay I will discuss the use of camera movements, framing and the editing devices in the crop-duster sequence of North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, USA, 1959) By focusing on these three techniques I hope to establish what effect they have on us and how that effect is achieved? I will look closely and analyse certain shots in this sequence, which I feel are significant in creating suspense. By dissecting the layers of each shot, I hope to reveal the technique and intentions behind them.

The first significant shot I will discuss is just after Eva Marie Saint’s face dissolves. This extreme aerial shot established the vast area in which Cary Grant faces. The camera stays in its fixed high angle as a bus approaches with Grant. The bus drives off and the camera angle and frame do not change. This establishes the setting for the viewers. “Such extreme high angle shots make characters into pawns” (E. Roger, 2008, 4). In other words it evokes the insignificance of a single human being in such a vast and secluded area.
With nothing around the slow pacing in the beginning of this sequence can be seen as a tantalising build up of suspense, not knowing what to expect. It cuts to a long shot and low angle as Grant waits by the side of the road. This emphasises the space he is in and “establishes the characters level of power and control” (Class notes, Introduction to Cinema)

A medium shot of Grant by the sign met with an eyeline match of approaching cars, which Kaplan

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