Tom McCarthy, who wrote Double Take for director Johan Grimonprez, based his screenplay on a story by Jorge Luis Borges called August 25th, 1983, in which the author encounters and talks with his 83-year-old self on his deathbed as a slightly younger man, on the date specified. Quite apart from the wittily Hitchcockian weirdness that Grimonprez has confected in his movie (the Master Of Suspense as ranting, paranoid cold war commentator developing his end-of-the-world masterpiece, The Birds, hardly begins to convey it), I'm grateful to McCarthy for alerting me to a hitherto unsuspected, but actually quite obvious kinship between the Fat Man and the Blind Man.

Just the title of Borges's story puts one in mind of the opening caption in Psycho: "Friday, December the Eleventh," and the doubling of authors (also seen in Borges And I) recalls the almost manic use of doppelgangers and alter egos throughout Hitchcock's career, most famously in (giveaway title!) Shadow Of A Doubt, in which the two main characters (male and female) are both called Charlie, where doublings abound quite riotously, including in Hitchcock's own cameo, where he's twinned with an uncooperative double-bass, his physical counterpart among the stringed instruments. And of course, Hitchcock loved a little blindness, eyelessness and many another narrative or visual coup based on visual impairment – in The Birds alone, think of all-pecked-up farmer Fawcett, the crushed spectacles, the game of blind man's buff.

One wonders what Hitchcock might have done with a Borges story like The Shape Of The Sword or Theme Of The Traitor And The Hero (later filmed by Bertolucci as The Spider's Strategem), or if he ever delved into his works. Double Take's use of Hitchcock's intros from Alfred Hitchcock Presents … makes me link that TV show – not usually directed by Hitch himself – with Borges's famous remark about being too lazy to write complete novels; instead he crammed a novel's worth of ideas into five pages. The TV show had lots of germs for ideas Hitch liked, but not enough to make into feature films.

One hopes that Double Take, after dizzying the mind with its wit and its Adam Curtis-style intellectual peregrinations, will also prompt viewers to re-encounter The Birds, my favourite Hitchcock picture, and one in which the irrational universe outlined in Psycho is taken to even greater extremes; the characters recede into the background after the 10th viewing, and the film becomes a battlezone of warring abstractions. Fellini's judgment – "an apocalyptic tone-poem" – is the best launchpad for your enjoyment of it. And of course, double it up with Psycho, also re-released this Friday, and still the bottomless masterpiece it always was and ever shall be.



Captcha image