“I always say Fellini inspired me. I love being in Fellini’s worlds. And Billy Wilder and Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock. To revisit those certain films and go in that world is just—It’s a world that didn’t exist and now it exists. There are some people that are—I always say that they don’t like so much abstraction. They don’t like to feel lost. They like to know always, always, always what’s going on. And when they don’t feel that, they feel a little crazy. And they don’t like that. Other people—and I’m one of them—I love to go into a world, be taken into a world and get lost in there and feel-think my way and have these experiences that I know… I know that feeling, but I don’t know how to put it into words. I know that feeling and it’s magical that this cinema brought it out. This is what I love.” — David Lynch
Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.
“Ina et Hitchcock Harper’s Bazaar, Hollywood” by Jeanloup Sieff — shot in 1962 with model Ina Balke
The Bates’ house in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film “Psycho” was modeled after Edward Hopper’s 1925 oil painting “House by the Railroad” — shown above in black & white, and hung at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates
François Truffaut: I’d like to have your definition of the difference between “suspense” and “surprise.”
Alfred Hitchcock: There is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise,” and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.
We are now having a little chat. Let us suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware that the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions this same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There’s a bomb beneath you and it’s about to explode!”
In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.