Friday, March 27, 2009

Top Films: More Hitch: The Lady Vanishes

“Some films are slices of life; mine are slices of cake.” –Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock has been elevated to the status of the ultimate artist of directors by many. His works have been studied and dissected far too many times to be counted. However, it is often forgotten that he was first and foremost an entertainer. Even films he made early on in his career, before moving to Hollywood, stand up well today some 70 years later. The Lady Vanishes is one such film.

Many, including this writer, consider this to be his best British film. Academics have claimed that no matter how many times they watch it with the intent of studying the mechanics of the film, they always get sucked into the plot and forget their objective. It is truly an entertaining film.

Two things stand out in the story, though, that are of special interest to those of us who are cross-cultural messengers: the cultural study of the film, and the role of the messenger with the report that no one believes.

The first element is best seen in two British gentlemen that provide the comical relief of the film. They do a good job of portraying typical tourist attitudes that find fault and inadequacy in every aspect of the foreign culture. It is played for laughs, but is really a sad commentary of the ignorant western attitudes toward different cultures. The role unfortunately played best by many Americans (read USA) today. This is especially a detriment when said Americans wish to convey a message that is already in doubt in the other culture.

There in lies the best aspect of this film. The main character is forced to convince an entire trainload of passengers that someone has disappeared completely from the train without its ever stopping. The very fact that she is able to obtain cooperation from some people on the train, when they don't believe her, is an interesting study in persuasion. The thing that sways the unbelievers at first is not facts—for there are none—but rather the relationships she establishes with them.

1 comment:

  1. Thia has long been one of my favorite Hitchcock films.


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