Attending an Open air Screening of Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” at the Didam, Bayonne.

My introduction into the world of Sir Alfred Hitchcock. For some reason I had a preconceived idea that his films were cheap slasher type flicks, probably born from bad promo clips of his popular title “Psycho”. Despite a lot of hype, I’ve never felt the need to watch one before.

I think I’ve had my eyes opened. I really enjoyed “Vertigo” (based on a French novel “D’entre des morts”) it’s left me wanting more. It’s quite a testament to think that even compared with modern movies where almost anything is possible, a simple film using very primitive techniques can still captivate a modern audience. 

It’s possibly helped along by almost presenting an alien world to the current generation. Looking back in fascination at the customs of people in the 50’s. The cars, clothes and dialogue all portraying a very proper era when men wore suits, smoked cigarettes and drank whiskey for lunch.

It’s nice to see an era with an identity, but mostly an era where things were done properly, even down to the dress. Now I’m in a hot part of the world, I’m paying more attention to clothing. Not in the sense of what label is stuck to my tee-shirt, but why in the modern world when we have everything, it’s the norm to have generic fitting clothes. From looking at the Hitchcock exhibition before the film, I questioned how he could wear a full suit during his tour of southern France, but I realised that it’s down to the materials and the fit. This made me think about how my own discomfort was mainly through ill fitting clothes, where even in shorts, I’m not comfortable in the heat. An expensive suit used to be tailored to fit you perfectly and made of the correct material to the suit its purpose. Now an expensive suit is a generic fit poly blend with a label, hung next to ten others just like it.

Saying that, I do like the freedom of expression that we all enjoy today. On your average walk through town you will see such a wide variety of people, but I just wish we could wrestle with the throw away culture, and demand better quality. Fortunately some of these traditions still exist. Maybe instead of buying quantity this year, save your pennies and treat yourself to something made just for you, that you can wear for years.

Back to the film… Without giving away any spoilers, there’s controversy over the letter writing scene two thirds of the way through. Hitchcock didn’t want this scene, but was pressured by the cheque books to leave it in. I think I’m with Hitchcock on this one, I would have preferred to have had this revealed at the end instead as I started twitching in my seat after this point (a sign that you’re not completely immersed anymore).

I would have had an alternative ending, as I felt a little let down that it ended in this way, and didn’t feel it really added any chill to the film. There’s an addition to the ending on the DVD, not really an alternative ending. This basically wraps things up a little more nicely for the American market (this also went against Hitchcock’s will).

Nevertheless I enjoyed the film, and it’s definitely worth a watch if you can overlook a little sexism and the fact that if you’re following someone you may like to take more care not to park directly next to them and persistently stare. Even with the cunning disguise of a hat, the chances are that you will be spotted.

For my next Hitchcock film I would like to watch “Rear Window”, as this also stars James Stuart. A great actor of his time, one that I first came to know in “Fievel goes west”, voicing the lazy dog Sheriff – Whylie Burp.

 I can now see how Hitchcock progressed film making, pioneering new techniques to gain suspense, and how he became regarded as one of the most influential directors in cinematic history.

Nice one Fred!

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