June 18, 2012

Alfred Hitchcock's FRENZY (1972)

Frenzy is notable for its vivid sadism and (literally) naked violence. It announces in bold, bloody terms, "THIS IS HITCHCOCK. THIS IS THE '70S." Gone is the subtelty and suggestion of murders behind curtains. We are no longer looking at the act through windows--we are in the room, we are up close and personal. In many ways, we are murderer and victim, perpatrator and voyeur.

Hitchcock is like a giddy schoolboy in the ways he delights in showing us the gruesome details freed of Hollywood censorship. (Frenzy is Hitchcock's only rated 'R' picture.) The roughneck inhabitants of London's Convent Garden drink, smoke, curse, fuck and kill. Like Hitchcock's early British films, Frenzy is a return to the lower depths of humanity; there are no Hollywood stars in evening dress, no champagne to accompany sophisticated murder plots. The women in Frenzy are murdered without regard for cinematic beauty, utterly without decency. LIke a modern Jack the Ripper, the Necktie Murderer lays his victims out bare, like slabs of meat, their eyes bulging and tongues lolling horribly. 

Hitchcock's framing of these murders is never less than masterfully, but stripped of the master's usual finesse and painterly framing. We stay with the murderer and his prey, sometimes for several minutes of unbearable brutality. Hitchcock does not give us an out; he forces us to look at these deeds--at ourselves--at our breathless delight and grinning horror. Frenzy is HItchcock's ugliest film and his final masterpiece, a gruesome capstone to a fifty year career plumbing the depths of humanity's basest instincts. 

1 comment:

  1. Ugh, you are such a good writer. As a young cinephile, I look up to you, Obi-Wan. Your blog is wonderful :)