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Happy 113th Birthday Alfred Hitchcock, Master Architect of Suspense

Alfred Hitchcock. Photo via Wikimedia CC User El Matador.
Alfred Hitchcock. Photo via Wikimedia CC User El Matador.

Alred Hitchcock (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980), who would have turned 113 today, is often known as the “Master of Suspense.” But we here at ArchDaily would like to tweak that moniker slightly, to the Master Architect of Suspense. Hitchcock, who actually worked as a set designer in the 1920s, not only maintained meticulous control over his film sets as a director (many of which were mounted in studio), but incorporated many architectural themes into the narratives themselves. More on Hitchcock’s use of Architecture, after the break…

One author, Steven Jacobs, even wrote an entire book (The Wrong House: The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock) about Hitchock’s use of architecture, in complement to camera movements, editing, and other cinematographic practices, to heighten the viewer’s sense of anxiety, fear, or empathy. The publisher’s review extrapolates: “some remarkable single-set films, such as Rope and Rear Window, explicitly deal with the way the confines of the set relate to those of the architecture on screen. Spaces of confinement also turn up in the ‘Gothic plot’ of films in which the house is presented as an uncanny labyrinth and a trap. Furthermore, it became a Hitchcock hallmark to use famous monuments as the location for a climactic scene. Last but not least, Hitchcock used architectural motifs such as stairs and windows, which are closely connected to Hitchcockian narrative structures (suspense) or typical Hitchcock themes (voyeurism).” We’ve featured Rear Window in our Films & Architecture series, but we’d love to know which are your favorite architecturally-inspired Hitchcock classics, and why. Let us know in the comments below!

Shot from Hitchcock's film Rear Window.
Shot from Hitchcock's film Rear Window.

Cite:Vanessa Quirk. "Happy 113th Birthday Alfred Hitchcock, Master Architect of Suspense" 13 Aug 2012. ArchDaily. Accesed . <http://www.archdaily.com/262818/happy-113th-birthday-alfred-hitchcock-master-architect-of-suspense/>