Monday, April 13, 2009
North by Northwest (1959)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock (duh). So I saw this again because I was watching TV with Max and some montage was shown that included the biplane shot and he seemed to react to it and Karen explained to him that it was one of the most famous scenes from a movie, ever. It made me think about how long it had been since I'd seen it, and wonder, does the scene stand out that memorably? I'd only seen "North by Northwest" once and what I did remember was how effective Cary Grant communicated that horrible feeling of disconnection from everyone. For some reason all I could focus on that first time was how devastating it would feel to have nobody believe you.
Watching this again, I enjoyed it a lot more though my reaction was more sophisticated and consequently, more cynical. I am only now beginning to understand the complexity attributed to Hitchcock, who I have generally considered highly overrated.
"North by Northwest" is a very intricate story about the illusion of control in the lives of men. A man may wear a beautiful suit and make a lot of money working for a successful company in one of the biggest cities in the world. He may be a great playboy who sleeps with a lot of different women while still doing a noble thing by taking good financial care of his mother. But he is not in control. In a moment, by choice or because of a clerical error, the government can use a piece of paper or a woman can use some deceitful words and her body to make you part of a complex plan that takes it all away.
At the end of this story, Cary Grant -- as Roger Thornhill -- manages to get things back under control, or does he? Now he is married, and the message is that the only real control we have in life is to cloak our lack of control in the happiness of love or the sadness of loneliness. That Al Hitchcock was a dark MF'r.