Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on May 10, 2012
Alfred Hitchcock’s name seems to be everywhere these days. The British Film Institute is currently celebrating the iconic director’s career with The Genius of Hitchcock, summer-long festival of Hitchcock films being shown in London. There’s a new film about Hitchcock and the making of PSYCHO (1960) in the works starring Anthony Hopkins and many of my fellow film bloggers are preparing to take part in the annual Love of Film Blogathon, which generates funds for film preservation. This year they hope to help restore the newly discovered Hitchcock film, THE WHITE SHADOW (1924).
I was also recently contacted by one of my favorite film bloggers, Klara Tavakoli Goesche who runs Retro Active Critiques, about a video she was working on that takes viewers on a mini-tour of the San Francisco locations seen in VERTIGO. I enjoyed the video so much that I asked her if I could premiere it here at The Movie Morlocks and thankfully Klara agreed. I also took the opportunity to ask KLara some questions about her interests and video work. I hope you’ll enjoy our exchange as well the premiere of her video, which you can find at the bottom of this post.
You and I share a lot of similar interests. We’re both obsessed with ’60s and ’70s pop culture. We love yé-yé girls like Françoise Hardy and Claudine Longet and we appreciate oddball films like THE 10TH VICTIM (1965), TWO FOR THE ROAD (1967) and THE LAST OF SHEILA (1973) that don’t necessarily have the largest fan bases. How did you become so interested in ’60s & ’70s pop culture and why do you think you’re drawn to films from those particular decades?
Part of what I love about having a retro focus is connecting with other retro-minded bloggers, like yourself! There’s such a high level of camaraderie in the retro blogging community. It’s that pure love and focus that drives whatever we do within our spaces. The way it’s been for me, as I’m sure it has for you, is that 60′s and 70′s pop culture has been an actual connection to something that makes a lot of sense to me… so it’s a really cultural matter. My day-to-day culture just happens to be from another time, which has most often been the 1960′s. That time has had such a strong pull for me, since childhood, although I grew up in the 80′s. So spiritually, I feel a sense of peacefulness or ‘home’ when I watch films like TWO FOR THE ROAD or THE 10TH VICTIM. I’m basically a grounded individual who enjoys being lost in the 60′s. And as they say, home is where the heart is. I’m also very enamored of the 1980′s, since that’s where I spent my adolescence. The 70′s, well, I love the 70′s too – that’s the decade where I feel I can sit back and take a break from the utter exuberance of the 60′s and the 80′s. All of what exists in those three decades, I can utilize to fit my mood.
I appreciate the camaraderie and generous nature of many of my fellow film bloggers as well. In your own blog Retro Active Critiques, You write a lot about the films and television shows you like as well as the music you appreciate. Recently you wrote about seeing the singer and actress Jane Birkin in concert and I enjoyed reading about your experience. You sounded genuinely excited while describing the event. How important is music to you and what do you appreciate about French pop?
I do have a deep appreciation for music, so much of what I do is driven by that. Although Jane Birkin doesn’t have a big voice or range, her massive charisma, when she was singing for us live that night, shined so deeply into the core of every person in that audience, bouncing off the walls. I think it’s telling that both John Barry and Serge Gainsbourg married that one woman. There’s always been music and movement in her very essence, so she was a perfect muse for their own melodic spirits. That’s what I love about her. The big warm smile and the sweet, bounding presence she always had and still possesses… I’m drawn to her as an inspiration since I can fully understand her enthusiasm. And yes, seeing her in person was overwhelming, I had to resist bursting into tears the entire evening so my head was throbbing by the end of it.
I can understand that. I can get very emotional during a good concert. Seeing a powerful live performance can have a profound affect on you. I’ve seen David Bowie perform three times but during the last show I wept openly because he was just that good. Tell me more about your musical interests?
As far as French pop, that was a wonderful discovery – considering that, as an American, we just didn’t get exposure to songs that weren’t sung in English (pre-YouTube and internet, of course.) With French music, you can either enjoy listening to it in French, or not. The ultimate reward is that there happens to be such incredible music to enjoy from the French, so discovering Serge Gainsbourg, or an album I love as much as Francoise Hardy’s ‘La Question’, was absolutely life-changing for me. Oddly enough, listening to French radio, I was introduced to Gil Scott Heron, who became one of my favorite American artists and one of my heroes. I saw him perform twice in San Francisco before he passed away. The fact that French DJ’s would have to introduce me to his music is a little bit sad.
Klara getting ready to shoot inside The Hotel Vertigo
You mentioned to me once that your background is in broadcasting and you’ve created a lot of great videos that are currently available to watch on Youtube. Many of your videos incorporate music with clips from classic films like THE GETAWAY (1972) and horror movies like THE LEGACY (1978). What prompted you to start making your own videos? Are these creative endeavors for you or just labors of love?
The videos I’ve made are definitely both. They’re creative endeavors and labors of love. I did study broadcast journalism production and films, and my first few jobs were in TV. So production work of any kind makes me feel very much at home and thriving. I started making videos in my spare time to feel balanced in that way. And I love adding a visual element to music. I was so lucky to be a child in the early 80′s, when MTV was amazing. My first ‘dream job’ was to someday be an MTV vee-jay. I couldn’t imagine anything better than introducing videos to people all day long. If you combine movies with music, you get music videos. For me, that seemed like the best of both worlds back then. And I love the natural rhythm that’s required for editing. So, a few years ago I started making music videos. I figured I’ll just make a video for this song I love, for my own enjoyment. And then finding out there are other people who are so extremely excited about the video I made, discovering that niche audience on YouTube or Vimeo, was surprising and wonderful. I generally tell the story using film clips, so they’re montage-style.
Making music videos has also been worthwhile in that it’s connected me to people behind the music, so to speak. For instance, there was Peter Godwin’s ‘Images of Heaven‘, a song I’ve worshipped for quite a while as one of the best 80′s synth songs. He himself saw the video I made for his song on YouTube – in it, I used slow-motion 60′s fashion video clips – and he loved it, which I couldn’t believe! And that led to our becoming friends. Since then, I’ve made a video for his song ‘French Emotions‘, as well, which he suggested. So in a way, making these videos has allowed me to collaborate with artists I admire. Recently, Cherie Currie shared a video I made on her Facebook wall – the video is a celebration of what I perceive to be the spirit of the 70′s, to Redbone’s ‘Come And Get Your Love‘. In it, I featured clips of her from the movie FOXES (1980). I thought that was very sweet of her, and it got her friends excited and talking. On the film side of things, I also made a trailer for GOODBYE COLUMBUS (1969), since it just didn’t have one anywhere. The trailer I made for it now has a life of its own on YouTube, as if it were the official trailer for the movie, which is also very cool!
Grace Kelly & James Stewart in REAR WINDOW – Klara and her husband Malte during Halloween
That is cool! I was a fan of the Runaways during the ’80s and I love FOXES. Another thing we have in common is a shared fascination with the films of Alfred Hitchcock. You even dressed up as a character from one of Hitchcock’s films for Halloween once and I thought your costume was extremely clever. What do you admire about Hitchock’s films and do you have any favorites?
Thank you, it has been tough to live up to that REAR WINDOW theme for Halloween, ever since. I raised my own bar on that one and it distresses me to some degree because I love Halloween, so how can I ever match that? Maybe I can’t. I got my husband to be a ‘prop’ since he was Jimmy Stewart to my Grace Kelly. It was a lot of fun to put it all together. I even rented a wheelchair for the evening, to push him around. I have to say, that was the strangest part of the whole endeavor, since I wasn’t expecting to run into people in the street who were actually in wheelchairs. It was embarrassing and confusing, since ours was all for show and that wasn’t something we’d considered until we were on our way. It opened our eyes to the reality of that experience. That’s going off topic, I know, but it was worth mentioning! Anyway, I really went all out for that one and we pulled it off. The funny part was that I gave my husband a ‘binocular’ flask, which we filled with the beverage of his choice, and all he had to wear were pajamas. So with me pushing him around, he had a pretty nice and leisurely evening!
REAR WINDOW is definitely one of my four favorite Hitchcock films. I’d list my four favorites in this order: NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959), REAR WINDOW (1954), THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956) and SUSPICION (1941) I guess that makes it two for Cary Grant, and two for James Stewart. And what is there to say about Alfred Hitchcock or why his movies are so exceptional and memorable that hasn’t been said? Well, let’s give special props to his wife, Alma, who was his editor. I think that’s really amazing. Several of his movies are almost literally and definitively ‘perfect’. I think it’s great that Alfred Hitchcock continues to loom large, in all of our minds. He gives film lovers of all types something to aspire to.
You’ve just made a new video that offers viewers a wonderful tour of some San Francisco locations that were used in Hitchcock’s VERTIGO (1958) and I’m so glad you’re allowing me to debut it here at The Movie Morlocks. VERTIGO happens to be one of my favorite Hitchcock films and I’m sure a lot of our readers are fond of the film as well. As I’m sure you know the film was recently screened at the TCM Classic Film Festival with Kim Novak in attendance. What inspired you to put this video tour together of VERTIGO locations?
I’m so flattered you wanted to debut the video here, so thank you! I can’t think of a more fitting way to share it than on TCM’s blog. I’m pretty sure that VERTIGO enjoys more fandom than any of Hitchcock’s other films. People are so fascinated by the movie, and its legacy continues. It’s also interesting that it wasn’t a big hit for Hitchcock when it was released and only developed its reputation as his ‘masterpiece’ over a long period of time. I live in San Francisco, and very near The Hotel Vertigo, so I couldn’t resist putting together this video for the legions of VERTIGO fans. It just made sense to make a video project out of it, and track several of the locations from the film.
I’m sure fans of the film are going to appreciate it. I’ve visited a few of the locations featured in the video myself and I thought you did a wonderful job of capturing them on film. I was particularly impressed with your footage of The Hotel Vertigo. What did you find most interesting about making the video and did you learn anything new about the film or Hitchcock in the process?
Thank you, it took some time to be able to film it all the way I hoped (weather and time permitting!) So I appreciate that. A lot of the exterior locations look just about the same, and I thought that was interesting, because so much time has passed since the film was released in 1958. And, of course, the winding staircase at the Hotel Vertigo was breathtaking – especially because I’d never heard it explained before, how Hitchcock based those famous, vertigo-inducing wooden church stairs on the very stairs inside The Hotel Vertigo (at the time it was The Empire Hotel.) The stairway was something new to learn about, and having that piece of information really made the tour come full circle. By the way, the staff at the Hotel Vertigo couldn’t have been sweeter or more accommodating while I filmed there. And I didn’t know much about antiquarian bookshops. The owner of The Argonaut Bookstore was kind to offer some stories about Hitchcock, his father and how the bookstore was the basis for The Argosy Bookshop in the film. If the video offers something new and interesting to fans of VERTIGO, that will be a bonus for me on top of the fun I had making it.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Klara! I hope other Hitchcock fans will enjoy watching your tour of various VERTIGO landmarks as much as I did.
If you have trouble viewing the video posted above you can also watch it directly on Youtube: Mini-Tour of Alfred Hitchcock’s VERTGO Locations
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