Dreaming in Hitchcock’s Movies

“Dream dream, filling up an idle hour
Fade away, radiate”
– Debbie Harry, Dreaming


I’m one of those persons who are quite fascinated by dreams. From the most ordinary ones to the most extraordinary ones,  I saw them in all their colours. When I can remember my dreams, I write them in a little notebook to make sure I don’t forget them later. Actually, this is also a way to stimulate my subconscious and the more I work on them, the more I can remember them. I sometimes read my dream notebook and I have some fun reading stuff I didn’t remember.

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Dreams inspire art; paintings, songs, and, of course, cinema. So I thought, why not discussing the dreaming world in movies. I cannot talk about ALL the movies with dreams. So, why not focusing on the dreaming world in Hitchcock’s films?!

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Spellbound (1945)

“Good night and sweet dreams… which we’ll analyze at breakfast.” – Dr. Alex Brulov (Michael Chekhov), Spellbound

When one thinks of dreams in classic films, I’m pretty sure the first scene that comes to his or her mind is the one created by Salvador Dalí for Spellbound. Well, when Dali, the master of surrealism, accepts to direct a dream scene, you know it’s going to be a winning result. Dali’s painting themselves seem to be inspired by dreams or, at least by something that mysteriously poped-up of his mind for whatever reasons. I must admit, I didn’t do any dreams where the objects were weird and misshapen like in Dalí’s paintings, but the importance here is the symbolism of this dream.

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In the 40s, psychoanalyse was a subject that was very “en vogue”. With Spellbound, Hitchcock had for desired to direct the first movie on the subject. Like he explained to François Truffaut, he consulted famous psychoanalyst during the making of his film. The Master of Suspense also explained that he had for break the tradition of blurry and confused dreams that we usually see in movies. That’s why he wanted to work with Dalí. This one would create a visually very clear dream with clear and acute traits.

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So, in a movie about psychoanalyze, dreams are of a high importance. If I’m not mistaken, Dali’s sequence originally laste around 20 minutes, but it was cut to only a few. Not to mention that some of Dalí’s ideas were a bit difficult to shot as Hitchcock explained to Truffaut.  In a way, there’s something interesting about that. Have you ever heard that, even if your dreams sometimes seem to last forever, they only last a minute or a few seconds? In Spellbound, JB (Gregory Peck)’s dream is of a central importance since it helps Constance Peterson (Ingrid Bergman) and Professor Brulov (Michael Chekhov) to understand him and to help him regain his memory. It is said that dreams all have a meaning. Well, Spellbound‘s dream sequence is the perfect example of that.

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I feel that, in classic films, you had some of the most weirdly illustrated dreams. Of course, we all remember Spellbound’s dream for these curtains with painted eyes that are cut by a man with a giant pair of scissors. This is maybe the most iconic part of the sequence. Objects also have weird forms and proportions. For example, one can think of this crooked wheel or this giant table where a game of card is being interrupted by a man without a face. My personal favourite part of the dream is when Gregory Peck is running down a slope and followed by a pair of big wings (we only see their shadows). There’s something very beautiful in this shot that fits perfectly the dreaming world. Of course, we learn later in the film what is the meaning of all this.

 

Vertigo (1958)

“Only one is a wanderer; two together are always going somewhere. ” – Madeleine (Kim Novak), Vertigo

The scene designed by Dalí isn’t the only memorable dream sequence from an Hitchcock’s film. In 1958, Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart)’s nightmare had something truly terrifying. The mix between Bernard Herrmann’s score and the flashy colours create a haunting moment. Interestingly, Vertigo was the first film to use computer graphics, these being designed by Saul Bass. Those weren’t only used in the opening titles but also in the nightmare scene. The script doesn’t try to reveal the “meaning” of this dream like it is the case with Spellbound. However, the symbols are clear enough to understand that it reflects a part of Scottie’s life that begins to haunt him more and more.

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Vertigo‘s dream sequence is also the proof that this film used Technicolor to its full potential. I must admit, the first time I saw this scene, I felt slightly uncomfortable, but I think it is meant to be. What particularly frightened me is this moment when Scottie advances toward’s Carolotta’s tomb where a hole has been dug to put a coffin. I was only expecting to see Carolotta’s rotten corpse lying there, but, luckily, there wasn’t anything of the sort. I remember my sister coming in the living room right during this dream sequence and saying “Ah, that’s scary!” before leaving. But once you are more “used to it” you find it somehow fascinating. I love the short moment were Galvin Elster, Carlotta Valdes and Scottie are next to a window and the first two just stare at Scottie with a very cold look. The nightmare scene is also in perfect harmony with the music and, therefore, there’s something very choreographical about it.

 

Rebecca (1940)

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again” – Mrs. DeWinter (Joan Fontaine), Rebecca

It’s with this iconic sentence that Daphné DuMaurier introduced her most acclaimed novel, Rebecca. Of course, Hitchcock had to use it in his Oscar-winning film. “I” De Winter (Joan Fontaine)’s dream evokes the memory she has of Manderley, the place where she used to live with her husband Max DeWinter (Laurence Olivier). In her dream, Manderley is burnt and now a desolate place. This is also a vision of reality and the rest of the film is a long flashback that will help us understand the mystery and the fatal faith of this rich domain.

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This dream scene at the beginning that introduces the film is filmed in a subjective point of view. It is seen through the narrator’s eyes, the second Mrs. DeWinter. Joan Fontaine’s enchanting and smooth voice adds a certain tranquility to the sad vision of the abandoned place. It’s interesting how this dream that is so calm is abruptly interrupted by a crash of waves in the following scene. This sequence wasn’t directed by Dalí, but we still can admire its beautiful black and white cinematography that gives it a vision of poetry.

 

Marnie (1964)

“You Freud, me Jane? “ – Marnie Edgar (Tippi Hedren), Marnie

Just like Spellbound, Marnie has psychoanalysis as a central subject. The main character, Marnie, is a cleptomaniac and also has a phobia of the colour red. Interestingly, in opposition to the previous movies, we actually never see Marnie’s dreams. We only see her dreaming. It is obvious that those are nightmares. To highlight her fear of red, these scenes are filmed with a red flashy lightning which makes the dream even more threatening than it already is. But what is the symbolism or this red that Marnie is so afraid of? The Devil? Violence? Blood? Marnie’s dreams always start with something knocking and the furious first notes of Bernard Herrmann’s score. Marnie constantly evokes her mother in her dreams and it seems that she is associated with some bad memories. Just like Spellbound, these dreams will help us to discover the truth about the title character. However, here the subject of psychoanalyse wasn’t as developed as it was with Spellbound.

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These are, I would say, the essential Hitchcock’s dream scenes. However, one can observe that some of his scenes, although they portrait reality and not a dream, are almost filmed like a dream because of the light, the colours, the blurry image, the way it is shot, etc. A few examples would be the weird trial scene in Dial M for Murder (Margot Wendice is living a real nightmare); the flashback scene in I Confess (which has a very clear and white image); when Margaret Lockwood’s faint in The Lady Vanishes; in Vertigo when Judy comes out of the bathroom metamorphosed into Madeleine, etc. François Truffaut even said to Hitchcock that, for him, many of his films, such as Vertigo and Notorious, looked like filmed dreams.

Dream scenes in movies give the occasion to the film crew to explore a different way to illustrate something. Of course, all dreams are different so, according to each movie director, a dream scene can be very different. We observe that Hitchcock’s dream scenes are mostly nightmare or, in Rebecca‘s case, the vision of something sad. Most of the time, these reflect the past of a character, a trouble hidden in his or her subconscious or a difficult situation.

Which Hitchcock’s dream scene fascinates you the most?

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Source:

– Truffaut, François. Hitchcock/Truffaut. Gallimard. 1993.

 

 

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Many Thanks to the Participants of the 3rd Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon

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I must admit, I first hesitated to host this blogathon again this year, but I’m glad I did because I read some excellent entries written by the participants. Grace Kelly is one of those personalities who highly deserves to be celebrated, who deserves to be honoured with a blogathon.

With their marvelously written work, the participants showed a beautiful admiration and respect for the graceful lady. If she was alive, I’m sure Grace would have been pleased by what she would have read.

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I didn’t have many participants as I usually have in my other blogathons, but I think here we had the perfect example of “quality over quantity”.

If you haven’t read the entries yet, please do so. You won’t regret it. Here is the link:

The 3rd Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon

And since there aren’t many articles, you don’t have any excuses not to read them all! Haha!

And thanks again to the participants. Without you, there wouldn’t be any blogathon!

See you next year, I hope! 🙂

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My Life as a Fan of Grace Kelly

My random thoughts on how it is to live as a fan of Grace Kelly! 🙂
Written for the 3rd Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon

Three Enchanting Ladies

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As many of you probably know it, Grace Kelly was one of the first classic movie stars I discovered. This weekend, I’m hosting the 3rd Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathonvia my other blog The Wonderful World of Cinema, but I’ve decided to write my own contribution on Three Enchanting Ladies as I thought it would be the most appropriate place to do so. I created this annual blogathon in honour to celebrate her birthday.

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While I already wrote the reasons why she is my favourite actress (along with Bergman and A. Hepburn), I’ve never really shared with you the way Grace has always been part of my life since I “discovered” her. Which influences does it have in my life to admire this iconic woman? This is what I’m going to reveal to you in a series of random thoughts.

final-jack-kelley-grace-1937-001 One of my favourite photos of little Grace Kelly…

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The Third Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon is here!

I’m happy to host, for a third time, the Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon! Luckily, as I announced the event pretty late, we didn’t have to wait too long for it to arrive! As you know, the event starts today and will take an end on November 10, 2017, on Grace’s birthday.

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I want to thank all those people who were willing to honour this iconic actress and princess that Grace Kelly was by participating to my blogathon. Even if she is, sadly, no longer with us, all the reasons are good to celebrate her.

I will add your entries to the roster as soon as they are submitted. If you can provide me your twitter handle as well, that would be great!

Let’ the ball begin!

The lovely entries

The blogathon stars in force with an excellent piece on To Catch a Thief written by Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. This amazing blogger understands perfectly the type of actress Grace Kelly was.

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Vinnieh wrote a marvelous piece on Mogambo and gives us all the good reasons why this is a worthy movie despite not being Grace’s best.

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Tynan from 4 Stars Films wrote a fascinating piece on his two most favourite actresses: Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. We agree with him that these two stars are the definition of icon. We wish they would have been in a movie together!

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After a first viewing, Crimson Kimono wrote a sweet article on The Swan, an underrated but worth seeing film.

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Letícia from Crítica Retrô discusses another favourite subject of mine: fashion, in her piece on Grace Kelly as a Style Icon. The lady is, of course, the dream model of every great designers!

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Amanda from  Old Hollywood Films explore the life of Grace Kelly through a series of beautiful pictures. Grace was one of the most photographed ladies in the world!

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Emily over at The Flapper Dame explains why she ADORES Grace Kelly in a post full of love and admiration for the iconic blonde.

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Collin from Box Office Poison gives us a thoughtful reflexion on The Country Girl. Grace won an Oscar for her brilliant and complex performance!

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Terence from A Shroud of Thoughts gives us a highly informative piece on Dial M For Murder, the first film Grace made under the direction of Alfred Hitchcock!

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On my blog Three Enchanting Ladies, I explain the marvelous way Grace Kelly influences my life. Random and entertaining thoughts!

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Alex from Anybody Got A Match? discusses Grace Kelly’s last film, High Society, in a great and interesting post!

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Here we have another great review of Mogambo written by Shounak from Life with Books & Movies.

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Thanks again to all the participants! Because of you, Grace is, once again, remembered the right way.

Don’t forget to visit my other blog, Three Enchanting Ladies, which celebrates my three most favourite actresses: Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, and Audrey Hepburn!

Happy heavenly birthday dear Grace!

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Yummy and Yucky: The French Cuisine in “L’aile ou la cuisse”

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Right now, I’m writing my text for the Food in Film Blogathon AND eating a sandwich at the same time. SO CONCEPT. I have to admit, I’m a pretty greedy person. Things I can’t resist? Ice cream, french fries, Champagne, and mojito (among other things). When I saw the announcement for Kristina and Ruth’s blogathon, the first film that immediately pop-uped in my mind was L’aile ou la cuisse (The Wing or the Thigh), a 1976’s French film directed by Claude Zidi and starring the crazy Louis de Funès, Coluche, Ann Zacharias, and Julien Guiomar. France has always had a reputation for its gastronomy. No wonder why they also make films where food is at the center of attention. I was happy to dive into that film again since I had only seen it once before and that was many years ago (I wasn’t even really watching classics at the time). I even remember watching it with my sister. Anyway, I don’t regret my choice as it is pretty perfect for this blogathon!

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The central character of L’aile ou la cuisse is Charles Duchemin (Louis de Funès), the editor of an internationally reputed restaurant guide. He has just been elected at the French Academy and is about to retire after the publishing of the Duchemin Guide’s last edition. He hopes to transmit his knowledge of the French food to his son Gérard (Coluche), hoping he’ll eventually follow his vocation. However, Gérard is barely interested in a career in this field and prefers his life as a clown in a circus (something his father isn’t aware of). However, Charles has to face a more serious problem: Jacques Tricatel (Julien Guiomar), the owner of a mass-produced food company is about to buy some restaurants that were supposed to be awarded by the  Duchemin Guide. If these restaurants are bought by a company producing cheap food, the future of high gastronomy might be at stake. Tricatel is also quite decided to tarnish Charles’ reputation. So, this one has to stop Tricatel and make people realize what kind of horrid food his company produces. So, with the help of Gérard (despite himself) and his new secretary, Marguerite nº2 (Ann Zacharias), he’ll tempt to stop Tricatel’s shenanigans, and this leads us to an unforgettable climax.

L’aile ou la cuisse doesn’t lose time to introduce food in the story. The opening titles present us a most entertaining animation made with kitchen tools, plates, and pans. It’s accompanied by Vladimir Cosma’s dynamic scores. These opening titles give the spectator two clues: that this will certainly be a film about food and that it will be a lively one.

Watch this. The “song” will probably be stuck in your head for a while, but, believe me, it’s worthy.

Seriously, I love that music! Somehow, I can imagine majorettes dancing on that with giant kitchen tools instead of batons.

After these credits, we move to the introductory scene, the one presenting us the Duchemin Guide. I believe it’s a perfect way to begin the movie as it gives you a good idea of what the Duchemin guide is about and the importance it has. The reputation of French cuisine very much depends on this guide, so the great restaurants have to give their best to keep their good status.

Charles Duchemin is known to be someone quite “mysterious”. Us, spectators, know who he is since we witness his everyday life, but, when he visits a restaurant to rate it, he always disguises himself not to be recognized. This creates some pretty hilarious scenes. Thus, Louis de Funès is not introduced to us as the veritable Duchemin but as a fancy old lady. One of his employees has been appointed to rate a restaurant but Duchemin prefers to assist as a second judge. The restaurant staff has obviously recognized the “assistant” and treats him like a king. They serve him the best food they have and multiple plates. Meanwhile, Duchemin (as an old lady) is neglected by the waiters, which indicates that, even if they serve good food, their customer service isn’t the best.

Duchemin will also visit restaurants as a cowboy, a bride’s father, and a cab driver.

Claude Ziddi’s film is an interesting one as it shows us different facets of the “food world”. Indeed, we and Duchemin’s crew encounter the best and the worst of French cuisine. At some point, some meals are real masterpieces, but some other are made by cooks who doesn’t really seem to give a damn about what they are serving to their customers.

In this Japanese restaurant, cooking becomes a real performance.

This wine has a similar colour to the one Mr. Alexander serves to Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange…

Tricatel “food” (if we can call it food) is the perfect example of anti-French gastronomy. Indeed, when Charles and Gérard manage to enter in the factory, they discover how their food is made, which is a process that has to be denounced. Sadly, even if L’aile ou la cuisse is “just a film” it certainly reflects a certain reality.

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At one point in the film, Duchemin faces a pretty challenging problem: to Tricatel greatest amusement, he has lost his sense of taste! However, the renowned editor hasn’t finished to impress us. Indeed, in a scene, he manages to guess the name, grape variety, and year of a red wine only by looking at it.

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If you haven’t seen L’aile ou la cuisse yet, I highly recommend it. Not only it will make you travel in the world of French cuisine, but you’ll also appreciate it’s humour.

A big thank you to Kristian from Speakeasy and Ruth from Silver Screenings for hosting this delicious blogathon! 😉

Make sure to satisfy your appetite by reading the other entries!

Food in Film Blogathon Day 1

Food in Film Blogathon Day  2

Food in Films Blogathon Day 3

See you!

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