Monday, June 7, 2010

The Double

John Grimonprez’s film Double Take is based on a Jorge Luis Borges story, August 25, l983, which in turn is based on Dostoevsky’s The Double. In the Borges story, the narrator, who is 61, dreams himself into a future date when he, or his double, is 84 and on his deathbed. Alfred Hitchcock’s double, Ron Burrage, a waiter who worked at Claridge’s, plays a major role in the film. Double Take is deceptive since it’s not really about Hitchcock, but about the way he walked into the outline of his own image in the famed ‘50s series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The infamous Nixon-Krushchev debate at the American exposition in Moscow, the Bay of Pigs, and the image of a body falling from the World Trade Center, captured like a New Image painting, are also elements in this piece of meta cinema, along with cuts from The Birds, Folgers coffee commercials, which provided the commercial spots for  the Hitchcock TV series, and excerpts from the cold war thriller Topaz. Time and history drive the diegesis. There is l960, the year Borges’s short story takes place, 1963, the year The Birds was released and Kennedy was shot, and l980, the year Hitchcock died. The notion of the alter ego, which survives Hitchcock survives  in the form of the voice of Burrage and Mark Perry, who imitates his voice, is almost as haunting as Tippi Hedren’s recollection of being bitten by the birds that Hitchcock used for his film shoot. “If you meet your double, you should kill him,” Hitchcock is quoted as saying. Double Take is pure Borges. It will never be mistaken for Hitchcock. 

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