Studio: Kino International
Cast: Alfred Hitchcock, ROn Burrage, Mark Perry
Director: Johan Grimonprez
Release Date: February 22, 2011, 8:03 am
Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes)
Run Time: 01h:19m:17s
“I’m sorry sir, but my family was hungry.” - Alfred Hitchcock
Movie Grade: A
DVD Grade: B+
The concept of the doppelganger, or a person’s “double,” is far from a new one. What it still, is, however, is a damned interesting one. Filmmaker Johan Grimonprez has taken such a concept and run with it, in the most unique of ways. Grimonprez is the director behind 2009’s Double Take (not to be confused with the 2001 Eddie Griffin/Orlando Jones vehicle of the same name), a movie that’s difficult to place in one, specific genre. It’s part documentary, part biopic, all surreal in its unique blending of genres to, well, not so much tell a story, as create a spooky atmosphere of dread, evil, and the power of propaganda.
On the surface, Grimonprez’s film focuses on Alfred Hitchcock, mixing in actual footage of the legendary director, and bits featuring people that look like the legendary filmmaker, namely Hitchcock impersonator, Ron Burrage. The tone is set early on as we’re introduced to a story involving an incident in 1962 when Hitchcock was called away from the set of The Birds and, almost literally, ran into the 1980 version of himself. We’re also introduced to the notion that if you do happen to meet your double you must kill him or he will kill you. From here, we’re taken on a ride filled with clips from trailers for Hitchcock’s films, as well as footage from the man in his Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series. Throughout, these clips are presented with both voice-overs by Hitchcock sound- alikes, and Christian Halten’s wonderful score that often emulates the haunting music of Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Hermann.
This is experimental cinema at its finest, but not really in the David Lynchian fold that we’ve come to expect from such fare. Instead, this is more along the lines of the amazing Orson Welles film, F for Fake, in that we can often trust that what we’re seeing on the screen during Double Take isn’t entirely what we think it is. There’s plenty of footage of the real Hitch, but there are often times where it’s difficult to tell whether we’re looking at a double or we are, indeed, seeing the real thing. This is a credit both to Grimonprez and the amazing work of Ron Burrage, the man playing the Hitchcock double throughout the film. Despite the fact that we spend quite a bit of time watching Burrage in make-up, preparing to be Hitchcock, his uncanny resemblance still often throws one for a loop.
Grimonprez never really allows the audience to get a true foothold during Double Take, keeping us on our toes as to what he’s really trying to accomplish, if anything. The doppelganger theme is strange and compelling enough, but he also incorporates a collection of footage involving the United States during the Cold War interspersed throughout. What the heck does any of this have to do with doppelgangers or Alfred Hitchcock?! Rest assured, you’ll find out, or at least Johan Grimonprez will lead you to believe that you’ve found out…maybe. Therein lies the genius of Double Take. Kino Video has done a nice job with the film on DVD, granting it the best video presentation possible, given that the film largely consists of footage that’s over 40 years old. The audio fares slightly better, thanks to Halten’s aforementioned score, and there’s even a handful of interesting extras that add to the film’s mystique.
Chuck Aliaga February 22, 2011, 8:03 am