Atlantis Alumni

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dan On Hitchcock

My latest theory on Hitchcock, the greatest film director. By R. Daniel Evans.

Among probably others there are 2 types of Hitchcock movies. One uses a basic setting in a very intimate way that becomes claustrophobic and creates part of the protagonists' fears and desires. Think of masterpieces like "Rope," " Psycho" and "Rear Window." Even better are the greatest of all Hitchcock films that use setting as part of the character's world, dilemnas and psychological impetus. These films include "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and "Vertigo." Last night I was watching parts of "North by Northwest," another great gem in this category. We, the viewer, go from Roger Thornhill's sophisticated if slightly constained life in Manhattan to another world of mystery in Glen Cove, then on to an erotically charged train (intimacy again) to the inner recesses of psychological fear on the vast Midwest plains (ironic) and Mt. Rushmore. If you take "Vertigo" it's similar: from the wild rush on rooftops that leads to psychological destruction of the protagonist's confidence to the mysterious and erotic world of old, Hispanic San Francisco. Even the very crooked streets of the city reflect the distortions and untruths of the hero's mind, as he falls in love with an imaginary woman, created by a fake assisted by a criminal. Later the changes of scene (the big Redwood trees, the cemetery and the old Mission) reveal further depths or layers, just like an onion peeled to reveal its heart. No doubt some film buff or student has already written a paper about how the settings in his films are major characters in his best works. How many other directors do this with such confidence and skill? At the present I can only think of Orson Welles with "Citizen Kane." There we go from an old, brash New York to political frenzy to a secluded world of zaniness at Xanadu, where both the hero's sexual and private lives have collapsed.

No comments: