COLLECTING CORPSES: ON NORTH BY NORTHWEST BY ALFRED HITCHCOCK

This entry was posted on October 22nd, 2019

By Claudia Siefen-Leitich

Who is staring into your neck, and why is that look forward suddenly destroyed as soon as your eyes move to the side, short and confused? The dynamic is still there, the light glitters in the pupils, and what exactly is it, what actually happens then?

North by Northwest by Alfred Hitchcock: First, we look at Eve Kendall’s blonde neck as the massaging male right hand slides down her left shoulder to caress her head in the ensuing long shots, starting at the shiny crown, over the dense mass of her silvery hair. This is how you stroke a dog. Or one could put on the ax, because the shoulder area is already palpated for us. Tested for their materiality. The red, heavy flower dress worn here will achieve cult status. The skirt is wide and swinging, huge amounts of black silk fabric with red embroidery have been sewn into wide swings, the top is narrow, emphasizes the waist, the neckline round and lets the back tremble again and again in a pointed neckline. But the stroking hand does nothing at this moment. And that is the problem. The grey silk suit jackets have been functionally cut and create the illusion of physical size and slimness. The illusion of the slender male line is also presented here by choosing the matching grey socks, and by simply omitting a belt. The chocolate brown Derby shoes are usually the only contrasting accessory here.

I didn’t realize you were an art collector. I thought you just collected corpses. 

The men behind her, I keep wondering if Eve can smell them. Or if she is slowly focusing on the hand on her shoulder just because she no longer recognizes the smell? And what about the suits, the cuff and the sleeve, so close to her ear? Does she hear the rustle of the fabric? The movements of his arm must produce sounds. But then we stand behind her, some distance away, and I wonder if her shoulder and neck have not left a little powder on the palm of his hand? I didn’t realize you were an art collector. I thought you just collected corpses. When he slowly lifts his hand from her shoulder, her chest rises, she breathes in deeply, but her eyes don’t indicate calmness. And he will now lay that burden of his elsewhere. Doesn’t Eve literally feel the breath of these men standing behind her at her crown and neck? We are writing the year 1959 and her haircut is considered a “short haircut” at that time, women who wear it are considered eccentric. Eve is not eccentric: in the end, she has to get married, and she will take the man (and husband) on a leisurely train ride into a black tunnel. This woman will not alleviate the man’s fears, at the moment when he was able to adapt her to his dream, it was already over and done with love. —You gentlemen aren’t really trying to kill my son, are you?— so asks the husband’s mother. But the son doesn’t need anyone else for that: he will already do that skillfully by himself.