Monday, 13 December 2010

Definition of 'Suspense'

Iconic scene from Hitchcock's Psycho (1960)

As we cling to the edges of our seats, ready to explode with screams or cower away to forbid our eyes witness the chainsaw about to fall onto victims below, suspense is like a mystery, we are curious of what might happen next. Suspense could give a sense of ambiguity, be prophetic or a come as a surprise, as we do not expect things to be. Many thrillers conjure these feelings by applying techniques such us 'False Plateau' or the 'Bomb-theory' to produce thrilling scenes. For example, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho's use of the bomb theory slowly builds up tension from scenes of normality (Marion taking a shower) to  the shadowy figure waiting behind the shower curtains.


Definitions of suspense:

Suspense is a way of creating drama, it foreshadows future events that will eventually have an impact on the audience. In terms of films, they include unanswered questions in the plot which the audience are desperate to know the answer to. In some cases the audience know more than the characters do on screen, creating tension. Alfred Hitchcock calls this 'The Bomb Theory'.The affect this has on the audience is Visceral, which affects bodies physically. Examples of this include sitting on the edge of the seat, screaming in terror and increasing the heart rate.
Another form of creating suspense is by showing it through 'False Plateau'. This means that the audience is being lead onto believing something that is not actually the real thrilling event but then the real event follows after. An example of this is included in the movie Jaws, when two boys were believed to be sharks but they were just swimming with cardboard fins. As this made suspense and scared the people in the water and the audience, the relaxation afterwards leads onto the real suspense when they find out there is actually a real shark in the water.

Picture from Alfred Hitchcock's 'The Birds':


Suspense leaves unaswered questions in the minds of the audience. The audience are desperate to know what happens next.
Suspense builds up tension.
Sometimes, the audience know more than the characters on screen know. Example is in "The Bomb Theory".
Suspense helps to create drama.
Suspense foreshadows future events.
Suspense makes the audience to sit on the edge of their seat. It also makes the audience scream in terror, increase in heart rate - Visceral Effect.
Suspense can be created through the use of False Plateau. This is when tension is created because something is about to happen but it turns out to be fake, then the atmosphere is relaxed then suddenly the real thing comes on. An Example is in Jaws, when everyone at the beach taught that a shark was approaching but it later turned out to be kids, everone was calm but later the real thing came along.False Plateau lulls the audience into a false sense of security.


Suspense are an important feature in Thriller films. Supspense is there to build up tension  by either foreshadowing future events, leaving unanswered questions that will leave the audience desperarate to know.Suspense is also used to create a drama which would create an visceral effect. For example a scream in terror , heartr rate increase (effects on our physical bodies). in most thrillers the audience watching know more than the characters in the scene.For example 'The Bomb theory' by Alfred Hitchcock. Also the movie 'The rope' is where a dead body is put in a drawer but the characters in the scence do not know whereas the audience do ,this causes suspense because the audience are waiting for when the characters find out. Suspense is done to leave the audience at the edge of their seat.

Suspense can also be created through the false plateau ,this lulls the audience into a false sense of security.For example in 'Jaws' little children were playing a pratical joke by pretending they are 'Jaws' using a fake shark fin made out of cardboard.The audience then relaxes ,then the real jaws attacks! That made the attack more horrifying.