Thursday, 31 January 2013
The 39 steps
I must admit that I really do like the most recent of the versions of this story. The original book was written by John Buchan in 1915, and is very much of it's time. The book and the older versions (starring Robert Donat, Kenneth More and then Robert Powell) all have a weak and rather insignificant female character. The latest version with Rupert Penry-Jones, has a rather feisty female character which gives a really interesting twist to the story.
For those not familiar with the plot, the main character, Richard Hannay becomes embroiled in foiling a pre-first world war German spy ring. He is chased around the wilds of Scotland by the spies in a car. They also use an aeroplane. In the book, the phrase "39 steps" refers to an area on the coast where there are 39 steps leading down to a harbour.
Chatting to my daughter, she pointed out the similarity of the chase by aeroplane to that portrayed in the Hitchcock film "North by Northwest". Interestingly, Alfred Hitchcock also directed the earlier 1935 version starring Robert Donat.
For my version, I used images handstitched onto sheer voiles, with bondawebbed trees and running figure made from dyed scrim. The green background is painted fabric, whilst the remaining fabrics are accidentally dyed dye-catchers.