As a director, Alfred Hitchcock wasn’t just a master of suspense—he was a master of details. The legendary filmmaker was not only gifted at building tension, but was also meticulous in his staging and his attention to the blocking of even the most seemingly insignificant scenes.
In “How Alfred Hitchcock Blocks A Scene,” YouTube user Nerdwriter1 explains how Hitchcock used the positioning of characters in relation to each other, and to the camera, to convey subtle power dynamics, illustrate shifting relationships, and build suspense. Using an early five-minute scene from Vertigo (1958) as a case study, Nerdwriter1 explains how Hitchcock uses blocking to illustrate the evolving relationship between Jimmy Stewart’s retired detective and Tom Helmore’s shipping tycoon.
“This scene is small and often overlooked but it holds up the rest of the film,” says Nerdwriter1. “How many other directors could choreograph this conversation in such a way that it works like a dance?” Check out Nerdwriter1’s excellent analysis of Hitchcock’s meticulous blocking in Vertigo—but beware, if you haven’t seen the film, there are spoilers ahead.
Banner Image Credit: Nerdwriter1, YouTube