Two Hitchcock doubles (lookalike Burrage and soundalike Perry) take us on a surreal trip to 1962, when Hitchcock was promoting The Birds during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Cold War paranoia echoes the terrors of The Birds, while the issue of identity is playfully explored by both the doubles and Hitchcock himself in his hilarious Alfred Hitchcock Presents introductions. Not to mention frequent intrusions from Folgers Coffee, the programme sponsor. But there's also a foreshadowing of the filmmaker's death in 1980, plus parallels with the War on Terror.
Filmmaker Grimonprez collects a remarkable range of grainy vintage TV footage, including scenes of Hitchcock on film sets and footage from key news events featuring TV journalists like Cronkite and Rather. As it progresses, all of these disparate elements begin to swirl together into a sort of single narrative. It doesn't actually tell a proper story, but everything begins to overlap and merge due to the witty, teasing editing, letting us see intriguing links between everything even if it never quite gels.
Into this, Grimonprez weaves new scenes that play on Hitchcock's iconic images, plus the sequences with the impersonators talking about themselves in a way that smudges the line between them and the original. Constant comments in Hitchcock's voice (or maybe Perry's) about meeting his double add a bit of intrigue, even though this never actually develops into anything meaningful.
Much more engaging are the scenes of the man himself, both larking about in front of the camera and talking about his distinct style of filmmaking.
The problem is that Grimonprez never manages to give this a wider resonance.
Clearly, there's a strong link with what we're seeing and what's happening in the world right now, although this remains annoyingly elusive due to the film's fragmented structure and the lack of any coherent through-line. But it's impossible not to recognise the filmmaker's skill at putting these clips together in such an inventive way, and it does give us a whole new angle on Hitchcock's uniquely twisted genius.
Genre: Special Interest
Run time: 88 mins
In Theaters: Friday 12th January 2001
Box Office USA: $28.5M
Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures
Production compaines: Zap-O-Matik, Nikovantastic Film
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 12%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 68
IMDB: 5.3 / 10
Director: Johan Grimonprez
Producer: Emmy Oost
Screenwriter: Johan Grimonprez
Starring: Ron Burrage as Hitchcock Double, Mark Perry as Hitchcock Voice, Delfine Bafort as Waitress
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