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The Early Childhood Inspires The Films of Alfred Hitchcock

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“Master of Suspense”, Alfred Joseph Hitchcock is one of the British directors and producers in the world. He was raised by his rigorous and religious Catholic parents, Emma Jane and William Hitchcock, who believed by the punishment from God. Moreover, in Alfred Hitchcock’s childhood, he did mention that his parents would take him to the police station and lock him away for ten minutes, and compel him to stand at the foot of the bed for few hours as punishment for behaving badly. Thus, all these kinds of concept of being brutally treated or incorrectly charged would be related to his films afterwards. (Biography) For example, the main theme of restoration of justice and guilty until proven innocent can be found on The 39 Steps and Rope, as the Catholic elements can be reflected in these two films respectively. In The 39 Steps, the protagonist, Richard Hannay, who carried the name of being a murderer because of the mistaken identity, since the corpse of the spy, Annabella Smith was discovered in his apartment. Yet, Richard Hannay is just a normal Canadian who is having the holiday in London and he does not know anything about the agent of ‘The 39 Steps’, and then he was forced to start on his quest to find out the truth and complete the mission that Annabella Smith cannot finish and to clear his name of being a murderer. In this scenario, Richard Hannay is an innocent person who carries the erroneous crime. According to National Catholic Register, the Church law and the criminal justice system prescribe that the accused are “innocent until proven guilty”. The Catholic church supports the justice system to ensure people are guilty before they are denounced but all must in some way believe in the innocent until proven guilty. It is unfair for punishing someone for a crime unless it is quite sure the person is guilty. (Patheos) 

Also, this idea that until guilt is proven, a criminal suspect should be conjectured not to have committed a crime as this is to protect the innocent and to prevent the possibility of being incorrectly assumed to have committed the guilt. Yet, in The 39 Steps, Alfred Hitchcock reverses the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ to ‘guilty until proven innocent’ and this idea is one of the elements of being a Hitchcockian Hero, so does, Richard Hannay has been presumed ‘guilty until proven innocent’, in the film he is wanted by the police and they keep chasing him, in this scene, Richard Hannay supposes to be a criminal in the police officers’ point of view, and even Richard has tried to seek help from the police, it is useless and it makes Richard starts to escape from the police again. Towards the end of the film, Richard leads the police to the orchestra, then he can see Mr. Memory starts to perform his memorizing skills, Richard shouts “What are the 39 Steps?” and “What was the secret formula you were taking out of the country?” (The 39 Steps Transcript) Mr. Memory is sent to the backstage as he is shot by Professor Jordan and he tries to answer Richard’s questions. After police hear Mr. Memory’s answer, Richard can finally clear his name of being a murderer. According to the bible: “Those who with a word make someone out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice.” (Isaiah 29:21) “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” (Psalm 103:6) This proved that “guilty until proven innocent”, as the Lord will justify innocents and help them to clear their falsely notorious names. Thus, this catholic element can reflect Alfred Hitchcock’s biographical background. In Rope, Brandon and Philip believe themselves as the superiors, since they think they are the way better and perfect in any senses, they even think that they have the authority to kill the inferior, as known as their former classmate, David. When the guests are arrived and the party gets started, David, the only guest is late to come. In here, they both agree the term of Ubermensch and they think they have the skill to conceal. According to Encyclopedia, in philosophy, it means the superman or superior man, who justifies the existence of the human race, and “the ideal superior man of the future who could rise above conventional Christian morality to create and impose his own values.” In this way, Brandon has mentioned that “Well, murder can be an art too.

 The power to kill can be just as satisfying as the power to create.” (Transcript of Rope) In this scene, Brando has illustrated he and Philip have the power to kill, like they have the power to create, just like the authority of God. However, in the Ten Commandments of the bible: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain; Thou shalt not kill.’ (Exodus 20:7,13) Even though Brandon and Philip have not directly said they were God, they still have the mind and action to kill somebody. In this situation, it may consider as the sin in the God’s law and people may not allow to do so, as all deeds of human can never escape God’s eyes. Since Brandon and Philip have made a fatal mistake, and Brandon thinks no one will expose this issue until the guests leave. 

Unexpectedly, Rupert comes back since he knows David is still at home. He can find out the clue because Mrs. Wilson has given him David’s hat, which has the stitch ‘D.K.’ inside the hat. Also, Rupert is doubtful as Brandon and Philip never allow their guests to open the chest. Hence, he dares to open and discovers David’s corpse inside the chest. Rupert, as their teacher, who has the responsibility to educate and justify what is right or wrong. Since Brandon and Philip have murdered David, and they should be punished in the legal way. As the result, Rupert has shot three gunshots to alarm the police the murder case has happened in the house. Therefore, Alfred Hitchcock believes that if people commit the sins, the God will punish them, and this causes the restoration of justice in his sense. 

To conclude, Alfred Hitchcock trusts the punishment from God, so he has provided some of the catholic elements in his films. In The 39 Steps, Richard Hannay has carried the name of being a murderer, towards the end of the film, he can prove that he is the innocent. Also, in Rope, Brandon and Philip have the plan to kill David to prove themselves are more superior. Yet, they have committed the sin that God is not allow people to do so, hence, Rupert represents the justice to reveal the murder case of his pupils. Therefore, ‘the restoration of justice’ and ‘guilty until proven innocent’ are the ideas that he reflected in the films because of his early childhood.  

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The Early Childhood Inspires The Films Of Alfred Hitchcock. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from
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