Sunday, March 9, 2014

Why We Love Hitchcock.

The famous dream sequence in Spellbound designed by Slavador Dali.

There is something very special about Alfred Hitchcock that makes him not just one of the most celebrated and revered directors of all time, but also one of the most popular.

Part of Hitchcock’s popularity was connected to his savvy business sense. Its now legend that when he bought the right to Psycho, he bought all the books in circulation so that no one could buy it in order to read it before seeing the film and thereby get a heads up on that now so famous surprise ending. Psycho was also one of the first films to use that famous “nurse” story – there will be a registered nurse on hand in the cinema to rouse people from their expected fainting away in terror. This idea has been used so many times now, its lost its meaning, but Hitchcock knew people. He knew how to write them, how to direct them, how to tease them with suspense and how to appeal to them.

Mrs Danvers haunts the new bride. Daphne du Maurier had Mrs Danvers as matronly, but Hitchcock paints her younger, and with erotic overtones, in homage to du Mauriers bi-sexuality.

Or perhaps our love of Hitchcock is based in his non-educated roots? Hitchcock exemplifies the idea that anyone, if they work hard enough, can achieve anything. Even in 1926, after he’d made his first successful film titled The Lodger (Hitchcock wasn't even twenty at this stage) he knew he’d need  publicist and he started to create a persona for Alfred Hitchcock the director that he honed and worked on all his life. He was a gifted publicist and a man passionately devoted to his own intuitive vision.

Another incredible shot from Spellbound. Chance, fate and the turn of a friendly card.

But then, if we think hard, possibly one of the most beloved things about him, is his invented persona. That lovely, funny way he had of communicating, that dry clever wit applied to all his films and above all, his charming ability to laugh at himself. He knew he was not handsome, but he also knew he was clever, and both those things would have to be hidden to a certain extent in order to bring people on side.

Spellbound is a book devoted to Hitchcock, his methods of suspense and his constant examinations of certain themes, such as thwarted love and the idea of the wrong man. In many ways it is a book and a series of books that celebrates the pleasure films bring us, not just to provide us with pleasure, but also to inspire us to be greater and do greater in our day to day lives. Films have so much power to inspire, and so much of that emotional intensity started with Alfred Hitchcock.

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