Thursday, 28 July 2011




          The movie  "Strangers on a Train" directed by Alfred Hitchcock is an interesting thriller that keeps the audience on their feet, and makes them wonder what is going to happen next . Personally, I found this movie to be the most entertaining in our film course thus far. It is an enjoyable film on the surface for the ordinary audience yet, for a film student, it intrigues the mind as we are able to watch the movie from a few different perspectives. Each perspective offers a new view on to the deeper meanings of the film.  In relation to that, the last scene of the movie called the " Carousel scene" is a beautifully crafted masterpiece that is very expressionistic. It is not only the climactic sequence where all the tension that had been building up finally explodes, but also, in another context, is where all the sexual tension between Bruno and Guy reaches its peak.

             The mise-en-scene in the "Carousel scene," was carefully constructed and structured to depict the explosion of the sexual tension that had been gradually developing between Bruno and Guy throughout the movie. The motion of the carousel moving slowly in the beginning and gradually getting faster as it moves out of control shows how at first Bruno savours the thrill of Guy chasing him and toys with Guy before getting more serious with him. Then, in the beginning of the scene, Bruno can be seen still running away from Guy whilst the carousel starts getting out of control. As he is on the carousel, he seats on one of the horses. In a sexual context, this symbolizes that Bruno has the power in the relationship and is more dominant over Guy. In other words, Bruno could be considered to be the "top," in a homosexual sense. After that, Guy comes and punches him and the two break out into violence and start fighting and struggling with each other. The struggle can be seen as a struggle of power in the relationship or a kind of foreplay of going back and forth between Bruno and Guy.

              Then, it moves on to a shot of a girl on a horse screaming in fear. The scream is depicted as fear on the surface, but the underlying meaning behind that scream is somewhat more erotic. In a sexual context, that scream can be seen as a scream of pleasure that a person cries out whilst he experiences orgasms. Somewhere along the sequence, we see Bruno on top of Guy and it moves on to a shot of a horse's head and Guy looking like he is getting trampled underneath the horse's hoof. In other words, this symbolizes Bruno making love to Guy. Another shot that symbolizes this is the part where Guy was holding onto a pole after nearly being thrown off the carousel and Bruno kicking his hand to try and get him off. The motion of kicking his hand and the expression on his face as he did it displayed  a very sexual image if one was to look at it from a homosexual perspective. Finally, in the end, the old man manages to stop the carousel and the carousel spins highly out of control and breaks down. This signifies how in the midst of sexual intercourse, the two characters reach their climax and finally release everything, letting it all go and collapsing from exhaustion from having used up all their energy.

               The other elements in the scene as well such as the camera angles, and the music play a major part into the crafting of this masterpiece. Firstly, the camera angles should be paid attention to. The establishing shot was when the policeman fired the gunshot. The gunshot is what sets the chain of events into motion. The gunshot killed the man who was controlling the carousel, and his death caused the carousel to spin out of control when his body dropped dead and hit the lever. Two shots were mainly used in the scene as the scene was mainly focused on the two characters, Guy and Bruno. However, there were also long shots and medium shots used to capture their every movement as they struggled with each other on the carousel and as well as using the medium shots to focus on other characters as well like the conversation between the police officers whilst the old man offered to stop the carousel.

            The element of music plays a major role in creating the effect of the scene. In the beginning of the scene, the music of the carousel is normal, the melody is happy and slow. The melody symbolizes innocence and pureness where you feel like nothing bad can happen. Then, the gunshot fires which causes the man who is controlling the lever to drop dead and the carousel to spin out of control. In this sequence, the melody transitions from slow pace to fast pace. As the melody of the carousel plays in a fast tempo, one can hear that the tone is deeper which makes the melody sound more haunting. If you hear it, it would sound like someone stalking you and is coming closer. Metaphorically speaking, it is the same as someone who enters a dream filled with happiness, sunshine and rainbows and only to realize later that the dream has turned into a nightmare filled with ghosts and monsters. The melody of the carousel continues to play until it comes to the part where the old man volunteers to stop the carousel. From this point, the music changes again, transitioning from the melody of the carousel to an orchestra melody which fits in nicely into the sequence. The orchestra melody follows the actions that are going on in the scene and sets the mood for it. For instance, the orchestra melody sounds very climactic when there are shots focusing on the old man slowly crawling underneath the carousel to reach the lever. The orchestra melody also sounds like it is going back and forth symbolizing a struggle, when there are shots focusing on Bruno and Guy fighting with each other. The music matches the pace of their struggle.

          In conclusion, the "Carousel Scene" from the movie Strangers on a Train can basically be summed up in one quote from Chairman Rey, that is "all pleasure is tension and release." The whole sequence of the scene depicts the explosion of sexual tension that has been building up between Bruno and Guy, and the scene tells the process of their love making. To the normal audience, it is a wonderful climactic scene that concludes the film. Yet, to a film student like myself, it tells another story, an erotic story between two men.


  1. A very daring essay -- and absolutely worth the risk! Your description of the sexuality of the scene is spot on. I'm not sure how the kicking of Guy's hand fits, but everything else does. Also, don't forget we heard that "scream" earlier, when Bruno followed Joyce into the tunnel of love

    Another onbe 8/8

  2. What a great insight! I just watched this movie for the enjoyment of trying to watch as many movies from the 1,001 movies you must see before you die book. I never caught onto the homosexuality of the character of Bruno Anthony, but after reading your analysis, I see it!

    I'm using you as a reference and I intend to include your web address. Hopefully more individuals who're interested in this movie will check your blog. Thanks!

    1. Wow, thanks for the compliment! :) I appreciate it!