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Shooting Down Pictures Video: THE VANISHING vs. ZODIAC

A video comparison of two cold-blooded thrillers about murder and obsession.

The Vanishing, directed by George Sluizer was formerly among the 1000 Greatest Films of All Time according to They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? I made the following video as part of my blog project Shooting Down Pictures.

On my blog entry for this film, I wrote:

George Sluizer’s thriller about a man’s obsessive search for his girlfriend after her mysterious disappearance during their vacation is often compared to Hitchcock’s disappearance thrillers (The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Lady Vanishes); a more apt comparison would be Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear, Les Diaboliques), with its cold, calculating fatalism and bitter twist ending. The film is most notable for its abrupt shifting of perspective from victim to villain, substituting the suspense concerning the kidnapper’s identity for mystery concerning his motive. This shift also betrays a greater fascination with the kidnapper’s methodical techniques, dramatized in painstaking detail, than with the supposed protagonist’s relatively under-realized search for his girlfriend. The hero’s coarse emotional displays are meant to contrast with the kidnapper’s meticulous composure, but it’s clear that Sluizer’s sympathies lie with the heartless criminal-cum-master planner/ project manager/ director, so much so that it undermines the potential doppelganger effect between these two men and their respectively destructive quests for knowledge at all costs. Eventually they meet, and the mystery of the girlfriend’s vanishing is revealed, leading to one of the most depressing endings in movie history. Though perhaps an unhappier ending – at least for Sluizer’s career – ensued when Sluizer later remade his own film in Hollywood with Kiefer Sutherland, Sandra Bullock as the kidnapped girlfriend (natch), Jeff Bridges sporting a German accent, and a revised happy ending that all but sealed its doom with critics that had seen the original.

Check out another film about an obsessive investigation of an unsolved crime: Green River.

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