Monday, March 27
The Film Committee’s Dream Factory continues with Hitchcock’s Spellbound. Spellbound shows many of the marks of an early film noir, such as its preoccupation with shadows and doubles, shifting identities, morally ambiguous heroes, illicit sexual relations, and betrayal by figures of authority, but it proposes a sunnier ending, which renders it both truer to the ideals of American Freudianism than the moralistic atmosphere of film noir and more resistant to the pessimistic wisdom of psychoanalysis. Hitchcock uses actual Freudian symbolism in portraying the relationship between Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck more deftly and wittily than in any dream sequence: they’re forever opening doors and windows, concealing guns and knives, and unlocking secret places. As with any good Freudian dream, what really strikes us about Spellbound is how it succeeds by revealing just what it labors to conceal. The trouble is that every element that makes it such a satisfying experience in the movie theater also reveals it as a set of contrivances and illusions. But as with dreams themselves, when we view films we may at least want to sort out the engendering of illusions, which dress our fantasies in appealing and convincing disguise, from the capacity of art, like dreams, sometimes to lead us to truth.
Our discussant is Michael Vannoy Adams, a Jungian analyst and teacher of dream analysis.