Sunday, September 25, 2011

Alfred Hitchcock on suspense

“Four people are sitting around a table, talking about baseball- whatever you like. Five minutes of it. Really dull. Suddenly, a bomb goes off. Blows the people to smithereens. What does the audience have? Ten seconds of shock.

“Now take the same scene, and tell the audience there is a bomb under that table and will go off in five minutes. Well the whole emotion of the audience is totally different because you’ve given them that information- that in five minutes time, that bomb will go off. Now, the conversation about baseball becomes very vital because they’re saying to you ‘don’t be ridiculous, stop talking about baseball, there’s a bomb under there!’

“You’ve got the audience working. Now the only difference is -and what I’ve been guilty of [in the past]- the bomb must never go off. Because if you do, you’ve worked that audience into a state, and then they’ll get angry because you haven’t provided them any relief. And that’s almost a must. So a foot touches the bomb, somebody looks down, says ‘my god bomb’, out of the window, then it goes off. Just in time.”

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