Review: Hitchcock: The Real Master - Spellbound @ Chapter
Recently, it seems we can't escape Alfred Hitchcock. Boxing Day saw Toby Spence as him in The Girl, about the making of The Birds, focusing on his obsession for the actress Tippy Hedren. Antony Hopkins will play him in an all new feature out in cinemas in the spring, focusing on the production of Psycho. I would put money on Hopkins winning his second Oscar. The film will be one of few new releases I would gladly attend this year.
Through this, Chapter Arts Centre have given us a season of a selection of his films, spanning his whole career. Sadly I missed the first three films being shown, these being two of his film silent films The Ring, Downhill (written by and starring Cardiff's own Ivor Novello, whose birthplace I pass every time I walk to Chapter) and Rebecca. Chapter have brilliantly said in the brochure: "with a fine selection, from over 50 features, of homicide, mariticide, uxoricide, avicide, menticide, faked suicide and a little psychoanalysis, voyeurism, surrealism and Nazi espionage thrown in for good measure". That's quite a list. A very dark and alluring list, at that.
The first film I was able to see was Spellbound. Starring Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck, and an Oscar winning soundtrack by Miklos Rozsa (with the wonderful use of the early electronic instrument, the Theremin) the film focuses on the field of psychoanalysis. Not the most engaging of topics for some. Since Freud was proven wrong about a lot of his theories, the quest for the truth of the mind goes on in this field of study.
We see Bergman's character Doctor Constance Peterson fall for the newly appointed head of the mental asylum she works at. But is Peck's character who he says he is? If not then who is he? Throughout the film, he has a disdain for anything with streaks in them, be it the markings made by a fork on a tablecloth, or the stripes on Dr. Constance's jacket. I won't go into all the details, as it would spoil a great deal of the story.
The most famous scene of the film is that of the dream sequence created by Salvador Dal. This is classic Dal but we are only treated to a few minutes of the dream. The plan was to incorporate much more of his work for the film, but it seems certain executives disliked his work. If you are a fan of Dal, then you must watch his collaboration with Luis Buel, Un Chien Andalou. My favourite short film and a delight to watch over and over. But the slashing of the eye with a razor, that remains one of the most visceral moments in cinema.
See this yourself, it should keep you guessing.