Commentary on Movies and TV by Brian Holcomb

Thursday, January 01, 2009


Martin Scorsese has been well known for his efforts in film preservation. But as he says in the really great short film, The Key To Reserva, "It's one thing to preserve a film that's been made, it's another thing to preserve a film that's not been made." Apparently the Spanish wine company Freixenet comissioned a commercial from Scorsese and the result is this fantastic 9 minute short in which the Academy Award winning director attempts to film 4 pages of a "lost" Hitchcock film called "The Key To Reserva", Reserva being the company product, of course. Scorsese attempts to "save" this work by shooting it, "The way Hitchcock would've made it then, today. If he was here today but making it then."


This is, of course, all just a put on, but it's also a dazzling lesson in cinematic technique. Hitchcock's use of the subjective point of view shot to propel the action is as exciting and relevent a technique now as it was then. There is nothing that can put an audience more directly into a cinematic situation than to show something from the point of view of an onscreen character and then reveal his or her reaction to it. The filmmaker is able to do in seconds what literature needs pages to describe and a play cannot even achieve. Hitchcock spent his entire career making films that were built around people looking instead of talking, conveying in a series of brief cuts what other filmmakers could not without resorting to long scenes of verbal exposition.

Scorsese has everything just right. From the opening credits which mimic Saul Bass's innovative title design for North by Northwest, to the Bernard Herrmann music cues, the short is perfect. Even the color grading captures the look of Hitch's work in the mid to late 50s with cinematographer Robert Burks.

The entire set up at the Orchestra concert is an homage to The Man Who Knew Too Muchwith a cool blonde in the audience who reminds me of Eva Marie Saint in Northwest. Simon Baker seeks for the hidden key as all kinds of Hitchcockian intrigue goes down. There are references to Young and Innocent, Dial 'M' for Murder and evenThe Birds. Check it outHERE.

1 comment:

gmercer said...

The use of the score within the context of the film was a great idea and very Hitchcockian. When I realised the lead was being played by Simon Baker, I immediately thought why Simon Baker, but then as the short progressed I feel he skillfully portrayed the accidental cunning that was prevalent in some of Hitchcock's leading roles. I'm not quite sure it was exactly what Alfred would've done if he filmed it today back then or whatever the quote was but I do, however, think Scorcese should act more, perhaps in a Woody Allen film, maybe a short version of Annie Hall with Martin as the male that could sell some tampons.