The Outside-In Man

Tel us about the experience of being outside, looking in — however you’d like to interpret that.

 

The outsider is a staple of much fiction and often is used as a plot device to drive the story. The outsider can either be the audiences view into the fictional word. Twin  Peaks uses Special Agent Dale Cooper to bring the audience into the surreal world Lynch created,  Doctor Who usually uses the companion or familiar face to bring a few onto alien worlds, the past or future.

Other times the Outsider is the protagonist. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1927 silent masterpiece the Lodger makes great using the titular Lodger to create suspense. Through the first act we only view him from the family’s  point of view and we get a mysterious threatening presence dressed in black, obscurin his face with a scarf and hat, who seems to drift in and out. This leads to a great visual moment where the family are reading the paper over breakfast which reports ANOTHER Avenger killing and they all look up as they hear the Lodger walking around upstairs. This is first represented by seeing the light fitting start shaking  then the Lodger is seen walking up and down over the image using a similar technique to Pepper’s Ghost.  Of course once we get to know his backstory, it becomes the family who are the outsiders and the Lodger suddenly starts wearing white and we see his face. The family then become shadows, creeping around him like vultures around a dying animal.

Hitchcock used the Outsider theme to an even better extent in the classic Rear Window where due to a broken leg James  Stewart is the Outsider looking in. As an audience we too are the outsiders as we cannot see or hear anything more then James Stewart, the film virtually takes place in long shot and we eventually feel James Stewart’s helplessness when he watches from a distance his fiancee trapped with a murderer.

 

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