ON "DE PALMA'S INTERTEXTUAL HITCHCOCK PROJECT" AT ROGEREBERT.COM
RogerEbert.com published an excerpt today about Brian De Palma from David Greven's book, Psycho-Sexual. Here's the closing paragraph of the excerpt:
De Palma was one of the first film directors to treat Hitchcock as an established film grammar, a genre unto himself. By treating Hitchcock as a school rather than merely as a predecessor or competitor whose works could provide an example for commercial success, De Palma forced audiences to reconsider and relive the traumas and implications of Hitchcock’s cinema. The “proper” way to use a predecessor is, apparently, to evoke certain effects and instances of technique, but not to dwell on them. Steven Spielberg’s "Jaws" (1975) famously opens with a highly effective and disturbing variation on Psycho’s shower-murder sequence—the skinny-dipping girl’s nighttime swim and murderous attack from the shark—but then proceeds to camouflage all of its borrowings from Hitchcock. If Spielberg makes use of Hitchcock, he does so only sparingly, such as, to give another example, his evocation of the Mount Rushmore sequence in "North by Northwest" in his "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977), when the hero and his female ally try to scale Devil’s Mountain surreptitiously. De Palma’s use of Hitchcock certainly isn’t sparing; it’s the whole meal. He recreates Hitchcock’s major effects and then languorously, disturbingly distends them. In so doing, De Palma solicits criticism, but he also forces us to rethink Hitchcock and the work of the cinematic past generally. De Palma’s metatextual meditations are not ends to themselves but, instead, tethered to much larger political and social concerns. And these concerns are with the gendered and sexual logic of patriarchy and what happens to individuals when they attempt to challenge and, much more threateningly, break free of the social order.