Sometimes films will create suspense by having the audience along with character not know whether or not another character knows a secret. And if the character does actually know the secret, it would be bad / put the good guy in danger.

A good example is the scene in Inglorious Basterds with Hans and Shosanna having a meal together. The audience and Shosanna both suspect that Hans may remember her as the Jew that escaped him previously. But we don’t know if he knows; and it creates incredible suspense / tension.

A more generic example would be almost any movie with a spy or undercover cop; if we have a reason to suspect that the cop’s true identity has been discovered by the bad guy he is meeting with, but we don’t know for sure.

Similar scenes are in Valkyrie, The Departed, multiple Mission Impossibles, etc.

Is there a name for this type of trope, or this type of suspense, or this literary device in general? I’m aware that the question could be likely applied to literature or writing in general; but it shows up often in film.


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .