Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Alfred Hitchcock

Terror is often accompanied by suspense in the unfolding of a thrilling narrative - or, to put it another way, a story which gives the reader a feeling of terror necessarily contains a certain measure of suspense. Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock knew how to scare people. The famous movie and TV director knew what it took to get people sufficiently engaged in a story, how to twist that engagement into fear and even terror at times. He admitted himself that this was forte, telling Newsweek back in 1956, "If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach."

The way he famously built terror and fear into his movies was to build suspension, tension between a known, terrible outcome and the time left to prevent it. He knew that the ticking of the time bomb, the knowledge of where the knife was hidden, or the man behind the door were all more frightening if you could build suspense and fear.

What was not frightening, after the initial event and certainly not over time, was the even itself. The bomb goes boom. The knife slashes. The killer pounces. All of those things happen quickly, and only once. However the clock, the knife, the killer, all these things held as a threat, as a future possibility, as an intended outcome, all build fear and suspense until the climax. He himself once said, "There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it."

I am, more and more these days, anticipating the end of my life. There is no terror in death, only in the anticipation of it. I am not afraid of being dead. It's the slow, agonizing process taking bits and bits more each day that is truly frightening. It's inside my head now, constantly, that one of these days the losses will reach a point where I simply cannot survive them. The question that drives the terror is "How long?" and, perhaps more importantly, "What will I go through to get there?"

This is not just fear. Living like this is its own horror film, it's own suspense, it's own kind of terror. I'm feeling like my life is directed by Alfred Hitchcock, that he is making each downward change in my body a kind of link in the chain, a link inevitably leading to death. I am not sure what is worse, the destination or the journey. Personally, I don't like this movie. I'd like to leave the theatre but I can't. I am the star of the show.

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