Movie Article

The Hitch Is Back

What, exactly, makes a film ''Hitchcockian.'' Check out the latest Ask the Critic question and post your own

Munich | OLYMPIC PROPORTIONS We fear for Munich 's Mouna Soualmen
OLYMPIC PROPORTIONS We fear for Munich's Mouna Soualmen

What, exactly, makes a film ''Hitchcockian''

What, exactly, makes a film ''Hitchcockian''? — Jasmine
A great Hitchcock scene is like a ticking clock, a countdown to cathartic danger, and it excites us by dividing us. In North by Northwest, we're eager for Cary Grant to escape that crop-dusting plane — but it's such a thrill to be watching the scene that we're happy, on a primal-suspense level, to see him almost run down. Which leads me to the great Hitchcockian moment of the season, in Munich. When the Israeli hit squad scrambles to halt an assassination attempt to avoid blowing up a terrorist's daughter, we yearn for the girl to be safe. But what's tugging away just beneath that is our original, amoral desire to see the bomb go off as planned. In that masterly duality, Spielberg uses the language of Hitchcock to express a gathering ambivalence toward vengeance.

(Got a movie-related question for Lisa or Owen? Post it here.)

Originally posted Jan 06, 2006 Published in issue #858 Jan 06, 2006 Order article reprints