12 October 2009

Classics Re-visited

In this short season of cultural nostalgia, I've watched Vertigo and re-read Nostromo - and can honestly say that it's the first time I have properly understood both of them. Or maybe I should say fully understood in the sense of grasping the full plot implications. As it suggests in the International Movie Database entry on Hitchcock's masterpiece, you need to see it two or three times to work out what's going on - and only then can you concentrate on the theme of obsession which is deeply embedded in the principal characters. I also liked the Hitchcockian link's between Midge's commercial art work on a brassiere and the famous scene of Kim Novak in a green sweater which caused such a sensation at the time of the film's first release.

And in fact it's obsession combined with sexual desire which proves Nostromo's undoing at the end of Conrad's novel. After three hundred pages of very chappish behaviour, the Capataz de Cargadores suddenly becomes hopelessly smitten with the younger and flirty of the Viola daughters. But he is even more obsessed with his ownership of the hoard of silver secretly concealed on the island. And trying to have both brings about his downfall.

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