Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Thrillers emphasize nervous tension and anxiety. Thriller films are distinct from horror movies which emphasize fear, or action movies which emphasize exhilaration. The motive force of a thriller can range from small-scale fraud to international conspiracy, but topics such as disasters (the disaster movie) or defeating criminals (the policier or crime film) are typically the preserve of other genres.
Alfred Hitchcock is considered by many to be the master of the genre. His ability to create "nail-biting" scenarios is studied in many film schools around the world. North by Northwest is a prime example. It builds tension with a minimum of pugilistic action, relying instead on mystery and suspense. One of the reasons Hitchcock may have been so effective at this genre was his tendency to put "the common man" in the position of what would be the protagonist in an action film.
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