Frenzy (1972)

“Frenzy” (1972)



London eye

Hitchcock is one of the most visual directors ever. His imagination was absolutely rooted on visual development. Like him, as attached to the visual understanding and interpretation of the world, we only have a few handful of other directors. By visual i mean that he envisions worlds where the visual, the framing, the mood, everything depends on what we see, and how we see it. That’s the basis. The story, plot, etc only comes later, in the exact measure that is needed to fit the visual concept.

So, when watching any Hitchcock film, it is important and indeed fascinating to reflect and guess what was he thinking exactly. Better put, Why did he want to make each film? Here in Frenzy, i can think of a few reasons:

-maybe the most important one to Hitch: the sense of (real) location. This is his first film where the majority of the scenes were shot in real locations, all in London, mainly around Covent Garden. This the film where he went back to London. He wanted to soak the film with London, so we relatively few plot points that take place on inner locations, quite the opposite of the usual Hitchcock, to whom exteriors were fake cardboards which worked merely as establishing shots. Here we have for the first (and only?) time in Hitch’s career a real city pulsing. Indeed it was a relatively new concept, that of capturing real cities, real people, and put them into fiction. I do think Hitch made a competent work and above all, an honest one. He chooses the Garden, related to his childhood, before it became what it is today. We have a genuine feel to it. Apart from the multiple shots in the market, i enjoyed the initial scene, it feels like going back home. The aerial absolutely establishing helicopter shot, where we start distant and go down to the city, until a closeup of a crowd, where Hitch makes his usual cameo. This one sounds tender, it is a homage to London, i’m sure hitch thought about that. The music here helps. Generally it is competent, but i missed Herrmann;

-the two more celebrated sequences are as well the more visually pure Hitchcock conceived for this film. The “goodbye Babs” shot is brilliant, a pure piece of the visual cinema hitch makes. He knew he wanted to have a camera going down the stairs and backwards, after having gone up. He knew that would tell us more than any explicit scene he could make. So that’s brilliant, how the sequence starts with the closeup of Babs eyes, the door of the killer’s house, we know we see Babs alive for the last time, we come down, we get to the street (through the “rope editing device”), and we feel devastated. And it’s all visual. See? The potato truck sequence is less effective and pure to me, but still a sweet humorous exercise of the Mcguffin, black humor, and that beautiful suspense, that will not allow you to think beyond vision.

This film is, however, less focused than others. The visual imagination no longer falls upon the whole film, only intermittent bits. It’s nice Hitch opened the possibilities of exploration of a city, of a mood through real locations, these last films of his are sweet, but no longer perfectly conceived like his most deep experiences.

My opinion: 4/5

This comment on IMDb


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