The missing link between Badlands' deadpan 1950s revisionism, Out of the Blue's hungover post-punk despair, and the even more abstracted postmodernism of Wild at Heart. The stuff of cheap dime store paperbacks rendered with a cool, nearly Bressonian purity (what is this if not Mouchette reimagined as an outlaw biker flick?) Amounts to little more, perhaps, than a series of archetypal gestures and practiced poses, but executed with such stylistic panache that surfaces take on their own kind of uncanny, sad/funny depth.
The type of stylistic tour-de-force some filmmakers spend their entire careers building toward (surely Francis Ford Coppola, who'd been chasing just this blend of idiosyncratic, Expressionistic experimentalism and big, melodramatic Hollywood classicism in his own '80s work, must have taken copious notes during preproduction on Bram Stoker's Dracula).
What choice did the prodigiously talented Von Trier have, after only three films, then to spend the rest of his career systematically dismantling and deconstructing the very gifts that came so naturally…
(I was originally planning on writing my review as an open letter to Hitchcock himself, which I might still do at some point, but this will suffice for now. The only part I regret not including was a question asking him how he'd like to be addressed. Hitch? Alfred? Al? Mr. Cock?)
Reading that Orson Welles apparently hated this makes me so happy, especially when you consider that The Immortal Story is kind of the same thing except actually good...…