Hitchcock: Master and Sadist
SIngli6 - wrote on 11/07/11
Donne (to throw in a gratuitous poetry reference) might have been right when he described how death was subservient to man's whimsy, but Hitchcock was almost certainly correct when he demonstrated in this film that man himself was but the subject of eternal peonage to fate. Hitchcock knew that each and every man and woman had a fear of what fate would determine was to be the ultimate course of their lives, and so decided to take advantage of that fear and create brilliant suspense through the (allegedly) true story of how a figure of average social standing, with whom many could identify, was thrown into the lion's den because of a series of unfortunate coincidences.
So many of Hitch's films deal in death, but death, as Donne wrote, can often come at our own terms. However, despite our strong beliefs to the contrary, what happens to us until the moment of our demise - what cruel games fate will play with our sense of security, happiness, and love - that is truly uncontrollable. To see Hitchcock apply his craft so deftly to a story that possesses so little of the narrative and thematic shorthand that can be seen in many of his films (for better or worse), is exhilarating, and a reason I consider this the forgotten Hitchcock masterpiece. He truly saw the suspense, and sadism, in everything.