Spellbound is a movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1945.
The first time I watched Spellbound, I realized it was a great movie; the second time, I realized it was a very great movie and the third time (yesterday), I realized it was just a masterpiece. So, I had to tell you why I think this movie is so wonderful. I took a long time before seeing it. Why? Because I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know a lot about it because it’s not one of Hitchcock’s most popular films like Rear Window or Psycho, but I had to see it, because I want to see all Hitchcock’s films. He is my favourite movie director and, so far, I have seen 41 of his films. Well, I had no regrets about Spellbound: this movie is almost perfect (because nothing is perfect).
Before I’ll explain why I love this film so much, let me tell you what this movie is about. Constance Peterson, a psychoanalyst, works at Green Manors, a psychiatric institution. Dr. Murchison, the chief of Green Manors is about to retire and being replaced by Dr. Anthony Edwardes. The young doctor and Constance fell in love with each other, but soon, Constance discovers that he is not Anthony Edwardes, but a certain “J.B” who had taken the place of Edwardes. He is an amnesic man who also suffers from a guilty complex: he is convinced that he had killed the real Dr. Edwardes. Constance, who is deeply in love with him, will help him to find his real identity and discover who really killed Dr. Edwardes.
An unforgettable thing about this movie is certainly the wonderful performance by Ingrid Bergman, one of the greatest actresses of all times. Spellbound was the first of three collaborations between this actress and Alfred Hitchcock. In this film, she has the chance to play a very good person, a wonderful woman, full of will and who knows how to think with her heart and not only with her head. Ingrid Bergman is simply radian as Constance Peterson, and how can we forget this beautiful smile of her, especially when she looks at the landscapes during her walk in the country with Dr. Edwardes/ J.B at the beginning of the movie. In fact, Constance Peterson is maybe one of my favourite characters of all-times and Ingrid Bergman was the perfect choice. Gregory Peck also gives an amazing performance in this film. He sometimes overacts, but let’s not forget that it was only his 4th movie. Anyway, he did a great job and his duet with Ingrid Bergman is unforgettable.
Another memorable thing about this film is certainly the beautiful music score by Miklós Rózsa. This is probably one of the most beautiful scores of all Hitchcock’s filmography. It is simply so bewitching and it fits perfectly the atmosphere of the film and also the title: Spellbound. This music makes the images look almost like a choreography. It’s magic, really it is. This music won the Oscar for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture in 1946.
Spellbound’s opening credits with the beautiful music score by Miklós Rózsa
The subject of this movie, the psychoanalysis, is certainly very interesting. We have a similar case in Marnie, but the story is very different. What is fascinating about this film is not only the subject, but also the way it is presented to us. I love to see the evolution of J.B and how Constance helps him get well. They have to face many hardships, but we always have hope for them. Well, this subject is developed in a great story. It was very well thought. Of course, one of the most famous things about this film is the dream sequence created by the surrealist painter Salvator Dali. This sequence is visually very beautiful and represents very well the world of dreams. My favourite part of this dream is when J.B is running down a slope and the shadow of a big pair of wings is flying over him.
So, these are the main reasons why I love this film. As I said, Spellbound won the Oscar for Best music. It was also nominated Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Chekhov), Best Cinematography (black & white) and Best Effects/Special Effects. Hitchcock’s fans, if you haven’t seen this movie yet, really, it is worth watching.