Hitchcock suggests that America is being transformed by erotic individualism. Nothing we see in the movie—starting with divorce and crazy families—was normal in America at the time, but it would become so, once people began to define themselves by their desires. An age of fantasies, including therapeutic and moralistic fantasies to explain away wickedness, was dawning. Beauty, and then terrible violence—erotic tragedy: that was Hitchcock’s vision of the American future, and the 1960s-70s proved him right. Hitchcock teaches us that there is always arrogance behind ignorance and that the apparently innocent misunderstanding of freedom leads to moral slavery. This is his great gift to us and must be what previous generations noticed to always return to his remarkable mysteries. We are, as we were, trying to understand ourselves, and at least at the movies, we could stop pretending or idealizing ourselves and recognize the tragic part of our nature.
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