Monday, 31 October 2011

Marnie: Dull or genius?

Nobody has ever doubted Hitchcock's brilliance or mastery, usually regarding every film of his as innovative and a masterpiece. However there have been a few movies made by Hitchcock where critics and filmgoers have not been so impressed. One of those films is Marnie (1964) starring Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery.

I was incredibly sceptical when I saw those two leading actors. I never could understand why Tippi Hedren was a star, I think she is plain in looks and rather boring as an actress. Sean Connery was great as James Bond (not as good as Roger Moore in my opinion), but in his other roles I have found him extremely irritating. But Marnie changed my opinion on both, and I see that they are both very good actors who gave solid performances in this thriller.

The film all in all, is very different to Hitchcock's usual style, in that there is a lot more talking rather than action, and there is very little suspense. However, the Hitchcock stamp is definitely there, igniting not as brightly as it has in his other work, but still aflame.

One of the most fascinating things I find with a Hitchcock film, is the representation of the mother figure. Whether it be in North By Northwest where the mother simply laughs at her son and gives him no support whatsoever, or here in Marnie, the mother characters in Hitchcock's films are always mocking, damaging or somewhat jeopardizing their childs chance of survival or happiness. It's interesting how this character is as consistently portrayed in the Hitchcock filmography as the cool, mysterious blonde, and if anyone knows more information on this please let me know.

One of the most shocking scenes in the film is the "rape" scene. This was brilliantly filmed because it was so horrible. Nothing is shown of the act, but leading up to it we have Connery ripping Hedren's clothes off, where she is laid bare. We only see her from the shoulder up, but she looks cold, empty, literally stripped of her dignity, and she stands there motionless- not even blinking- as he kisses her. All we then see is her blank eyes staring into the camera, followed by a cut to a close-up of Connery moving into the camera. This shot is overbearing and extremely intimidating- we feel her fear, and her helplessness of this tall, strong, dark, imposing man.

The power of the male over the female is very prominent in this movie- from the moment Marnie robs Connery's workplace, he plays games with her- asking questions that he knows the answers to, but knows she will answer with lie. He knows everything about her, and therefore has her in his power, forcing her to marry him. However, Connery, although forcing Hedren into marriage and into performing the duties of a wife, does actually want to help her clear her psychological hatred of men and fear of the colour red.

This is one of the flaws of the movie. The effects to show Marnie's panic at the colour red, is shown merely by a red filter filling the screen, nothing more. I found this incredibly disappointing, and regarding the effects Hitchcock has pulled off in his other works regardless of the effects available at the time, Marnie's effects were a let down.
Aside from it's flaws and it's less adventurous plotline, this film is engaging, shocking, and even compelling, because it is a real mystery as to why Marnie is so traumatised, and Hitchcock truly takes us on that psychological journey with Hedren and Connery.

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