Spellbound: Fascination

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Spellbound is a movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock and released 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 a masterpiece. 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 since I want to see every 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).

Let me first 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 to be 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 took the place of Edwardes. He is an amnesiac man who also suffers from a guilty complex: he is convinced that he 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 radious 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 a 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.

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Another memorable thing about this film is certainly the 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 almost makes the movie looks like a long choreography. It’s magic. Rózsa 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 quite different. Not only the subject is fascinating, but also the way it is presented to us. I love to see the evolution of J.B and how Constance helps him to 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 Spellbound is the dream sequence created by the surrealist painter Salvator Dalí. This sequence is visually mesmerizing and portrays the world of dreams with a mysterious charm. 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.

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13 thoughts on “Spellbound: Fascination

  1. I agree – the music in this film is wonderful, definitely deserving of an Oscar win. And the dream sequence à la Salvador Dali is worth an entire post in itself!

    I also agree that Bergman absolutely shines in those early scenes where she takes a country walk with Peck. I also like how Hitchcock does close-ups of her when she observes the odd things that Peck does. You can almost see the wheels turning, looking for a logical explanation.

    This is a great post. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Spot-on review. I agree that Bergman’s performance was amazing, and I am happy that you mentioned that impressive dream sequence. Although I am biased as I have a soft spot for mental health-themed films, https://dbmoviesblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/top-10-films-featuring-a-mental-institution-you-should-not-miss/ I think this movie is so above average and that maybe also because you don’t really expect at the beginning Dr Murchison to be the villain.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was able to finally watch this for the first time about a month ago. It was excellent!!! I love the opening theme. I wish the rest of the dream sequence existed!!! I hate when I find out parts were cut from of film and don’t exist anymore… it makes me sad.

    Liked by 1 person

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