Spellbound (1945) Spellbound
A little more than halfway through Hitchcock’s filmography, and Spellbound was probably my most anticipated of what’s left. I was not disappointed.
Visually, Spellbound is stunning. Setting the Dali sequence aside for a moment, Hitch really works some magic with the camera. Oh, I wish I had taken some notes earlier, because I’m forgetting so much. But it’s not just the trick shots, the interesting POV shots, or the visual motifs (I feel like it must have been somewhat difficult to get “white lines” to show on film, right?), but simple things, like the light falling on Bergman in her room. Of course, when working with Bergman and Peck, it could not have been too challenging to make them look beautiful.
The dream sequence, with artwork by Salvador Dali, was exactly how the psychoanalysis should have been represented on film. While the film’s treatment of psychoanalysis is quite laughable now, it works within the film, which is the only logic that matters for Hitchcock. It’s a shame the sequence was note longer, as Dali had much more planned, including a statue breaking apart, and underneath, Ingrid Bergman lying on the ground, with ants crawling all over her.
But because the picture deals so heavily with psychoanalysis, and the performance of psychoanalysis is the subject of the film, it sticks too close to (questionable) logic and too far from emotion. There is a lot of explaining to do, and a lot of wordiness - I always prefer the ones that could almost be silent films. I think it’s telling that Spellbound was adapted to a radio play.
Ingrid Bergman was wonderful, and Michael Chekhov as Bergman’s mentor was fabulously funny. Although Gregory Peck was beautiful, I’m not sure I loved him - I found myself wishing for the expressiveness of Anthony Perkins.
All in all, a good Hitchcock, a really good film by any other measure, and one that I heartily enjoyed.
#170 - 7/30/2012