Alwitt, Linda F. "Suspense and Advertising Responses." Journal of Consumer Psychology. Vol. 12, no. 1. 2002. pp. 35-49.
In her article on suspense and consumer psychology, Linda Alwitt explores what suspense is, how it is created, and its effects on audiences. She argues that the presence of suspense in an advertisement, in this case a television commercial, evokes at once both positive and negative emotional responses in the viewer, with the ultimate result being a more positive attitude towards suspenseful ads than non-suspenseful ads. She also argues that while viewers have a respond better to suspenseful ads, there are trade-offs in regards to effectiveness.
Suspense is a fundamental element of Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious, as it is for most of his films, and is one of the keys to understanding the movie's success. For both filmmakers and advertisers, suspense is used to maintain the audience's interest, so for both groups the creation of suspense is similar, though filmmakers must hold the audience's attention for much longer than advertisers. As outlined by Alwitt, the critical elements that set the stage for suspense in both mediums are characters, a plot, conflict, perceived time (the passing of which must be somehow related to the conflict), multiple possible outcomes to the situation, and often the omniscient knowledge of the audience. All of these elements are present in Notorious. Since he is working within the movie format, which is much more extended than that of the commercial, Hitchcock is able to more fully utilize the camera, editing, music, and his characters to heighten the suspense.
One of the films' clearest examples of mounting tension is just before the climax in the wine cellar, as the camera cuts back and forth between large party scenes and close-ups of the dwindling numbers of champagne bottles. The result is the audience's increased emotional involvement in the film and it's main characters, Alicia and Devlin. When the conflict is resolved, viewers walk away with a more gratifying emotional experience, having experienced both excitement and fear with the films characters and having lived to tell the tale.
Palmer argues that Roeg’s film makes us question how we ‘read’ (i.e. understand) films in the same way that John questions his understanding of reality. Palmer writes that, “in Roeg’s film one may wonder if anything is what it seems” (14). We are shown events that may or may not occur and images that could not possibly exist in real life, which have the effect of undermining our sense of reality. Palmer puts forth that, “Don’t Look Now suggests that the physical world can mislead and, by extension, that the encoding of ways of seeing and interpreting a world presented in narrative film can also be called into question” (16). He interprets the dust that blows into Wendy’s eye (and obstructs her vision) as a metaphor for the calling into question of one’s method of “seeing and interpreting.” The film is self-reflexive, because it is about questioning one’s vision; one’s modus of interpretation, and the viewer is forced to question these things as s/he watches the film. The sequence where we finally see Heather’s blind eyes highlights this self-reflexive quality to the film, because we are only able to understand after we have seen after a later scene in the film. The proximity of the shot of Heather’s eyes and the shot of John and Laura leaving their home in the rain confuses the viewer as to who is seeing what, John or Laura (19). Only after we learn that John is psychic are we able to go back to this scene and reinterpret it, understanding that perhaps it is John who sees Heather’s blindness with his ‘second sight.’ Palmer also analyzes the opening credit sequence to show the self-reflexive quality of the film, that only by seeing the only thing are we able to go back and understand it...