Alfred Hitchcock Recalls Working with Salvador Dali on Spellbound

In 1945 Alfred Hitch­cock had to explain one of Hol­ly­wood’s unwrit­ten rules to Sal­vador Dali: No, you can’t pour live ants all over Ingrid Bergman! Hitch­cock had approached Dali for help with a dream sequence in his upcom­ing thriller, Spell­bound, star­ring Bergman and Gre­go­ry Peck. He was unhap­py with the fuzzi­ness of Hol­ly­wood dream sequences. “I want­ed to con­vey the dream with great visu­al sharp­ness and clarity–sharper than film itself,” Hitch­cock recalled in his 1962 inter­view with François Truf­faut. “I want­ed Dali because of the archi­tec­tur­al sharp­ness of his work. Chiri­co has the same qual­i­ty, you know, the long shad­ows, the infin­i­ty of dis­tance and the con­verg­ing lines of per­spec­tive. But Dali had some strange ideas. He want­ed a stat­ue to crack like a shell falling apart, with ants crawl­ing all over it. And under­neath, there would be Ingrid Bergman, cov­ered by ants! It just was­n’t pos­si­ble.”

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