Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two Serial Killers by Hitchcock, p1

"To-night Golden Curls." Thus begins Alfred Hitchcock’s first feature film, and the public obsession he had with blonds. The question one asks is, did he objectify his leading ladies, or merely highlight the way our society does? The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog has got to be one of the first of the serial killer genre of horror, and yet the killer is never once seen. He is more of a backdrop than a character in this story.

The real observation made here by Hitchcock is society’s reactions to such horrible events, from the dancing ladies joking about the danger they face to the public’s rush to judgment and attempts to take justice into their own hands. Hitchcock spends no time focusing on the evil of the killer—that is obvious and unnecessary. Instead he holds a mirror up to the rest of us and makes us squirm with how judgmental and self-serving we can be. When the policeman is rejected by Daisy in favor of the lodger, he immediately builds a case in his own mind for accusing his adversary of the crimes being committed.

The killer in this movie has no known motivation. He is driven to kill women based merely on their appearance. The crowd at the end of this film is not much different. When they think a man might be the killer who has terrified (and entertained) them for weeks, they have no qualms trying to kill him with their bare hands.

This being an early (and silent) film makes it a challenge for today’s audiences to appreciate. It is still a classic and a great work for those who can appreciate it removed from its original context.

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