Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Lady Vanishes

The first thing you start noticing while watching this 1938 movie, is that maybe you have seen this one. Or is it only the story that resembles with that of another movie? And then it strikes. Flightplan, a Jodie Foster starrer has almost identical story. Well, almost. Despite similarities, this movie stands out as one of my favourites by Alfred Hitchcock.

It has all the British cricket 'n tea-time humour, Italian accents, and charming faces that keeps the viewer glued to the screen. In particular I would like to dwell upon one particular "magic"al scene from the movie.

Majority of the events take place on a train to London. Amongst the passengers is this magician fellow who is carrying his magical setup in the parcel car. The hero and the heroine sniff some irregularities and deduce that the magician fellow has something to do with vanishing of the Lady. So they start checking the goods car. During this five minute sequence, there are a couple of trap-door tricks and rabbit and cards tricks. This scene is shot such that the camera is at a lower level, and is deliberately keeping details out of the frame to keep the viewer busy with extrapolation. At the peak of this process, out of nowhere half-face of the magician from left top corner of the frame. Now this is a place which we have not considered valid for a character to be present at. That was only a life size cut-out to be used for advertisements, noting much! There is sudden in-rush of music and the viewer is (almost) completely toppled out of his seat. Personally, I felt I had a shock of my life!

For a few minutes after this frame, the camera brushes past the magician's cut-out but does not give enough time for the viewer to concentrate on it. All this time, the viewer is kept busy in speculating with only insufficient data...

It takes a genius of Hitchcock to come up with such well designed sequence.

No comments: