Double Take

Johan Grimonprez, Belgium / Germany / The Netherlands, 2009, color / black and white, 35mm, 80'

The Cold War, Hitchcock, and the rise of television are ingeniously interconnected in this collage of space-race news footage, hilarious coffee ads, and excerpts from Hitchcock's thrillers. Was the Cold War just one huge MacGuffin? Double Take is a cinematic elaboration of the installation "Looking for Alfred," which features a series of Hitchcock lookalikes. The film itself is a search for significance in coincidental events that echoes the mechanism of paranoia. Johan Grimonprez, who caused a furor with his documentary Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, uses this elegantly composed essay to say a great deal about the rise of television and the way we view historical events. Starting with Nixon and Khrushchev's famous "kitchen debate" in 1959, television came to exert an ever-increasing influence on politics. Meanwhile, Hitchcock watched his TV show Alfred Hitchcock Presents get interrupted by advertisements for the first time. He liked to joke about the medium, saying, "Television is like the American toaster: you push the button and the same thing pops up every time." Double Take was inspired by Jorge Luis Borges's essay August 25, 1983. Placing mirrors next to mirrors, it allows a young Hitchcock to meet his older self, and is also a portrait of his doppelganger Ron Burrage.

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