How did Hitchcock create suspense in The Man Who Knew Too Much?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Hitchcock's best use of suspense in The Man Who Knew Too Much would have to lie in the scene at the Royal Albert Hall.  The use of the music, with Herrmann himself conducting, of "The Storm Clouds Cantata" is a moment where suspense in the film is at its height.  The idea of the use of different camera angles that capture the fearful expressions of Jo McKenna, the assassin sitting in the box seat waiting for his moment, as well as the progression of the musical score especially with the moment anticipating the crash of the symbols are all a part of the suspenseful feel of the scene.  At the same time, the suspense is heightened as Dr. McKenna finds Jo and moves from box seat to box seat, trying to open each door to the assassin.  Finally, as the music hits an undeniable crescendo, the movement of the gun from behind the curtains, perfectly aimed at its target, all while Jo McKenna is watching from the ground floor adds to the suspense of the moment.  When she screams to disrupt the shot, it is a culmination of the suspense, one in which the audience member is no longer separate from the moment, but rather immersed in it.  Through this, suspense is evident and Hitchcock cements himself as an undeniable master of being able to create a suspenseful mood to a moment, an instant in time.


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