Hot off the success of 2006’s THE DEPARTED and his subsequent, long-overdue Oscar win for Directing, Martin Scorsese could do anything he wanted. What he actually did next, however, came as something of a surprise. It was an advertisement for Freixenet champagne, but simply calling it a commercial would do injustice to Scorsese’s vision and subsequent accomplishment. Having built up a formidable reputation as a vocal preservationist of classic cinema, Scorsese used the opportunity to do something that had never before been attempted in the field of film preservation—preserving a work that had never been realized on-screen in the first place. To accomplish this feat, he looked to a lost script, of which only three pages still existed. The script was called THE KEY TO RESERVA, and it was written by one of Scorsese’s key influences, the late Alfred Hitchcock. In a bold conceit that would seamlessly combine narrative filmmaking with documentary, Scorsese aimed to recreate those three pages in an attempt to channel to the ghost of Hitchcock via his own handiwork.
Hitchcock’s pages are set in an opera house, where a dashing spy (played here by Simon Baker) attempts to steal secret plans hidden inside the cork of a bottle of Freixenet champagne before his presence is discovered. Helping him in his mission is a classic Hitchcock blonde (a conceit Scorsese has incorporated into his own work), played by Kelli O’Hara. Scorsese successfully emulates Hitchcock’s filmmaking style, right down to Hitchcock’s particularly iconic use of subjective perspectives and his signature “falling” shot. The late, great Harris Savides serves as cinematographer, helping Scorsese pull off his ambitious vision with classical crane and dolly-based camera movements and polished, old school Hollywood lighting setups. Scorsese scores the scene to Bernard Herrmann’s iconic theme for NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959), played by the onscreen orchestra, and longtime editing partner Thelma Schoonmaker ties everything together with a vintage flourish. Finally, Scorsese caps off the Hitchcock homage in a playful way during the film’s final shot, which calls out to Hitchcock’s 1963 masterpiece THE BIRDS as countless flocks of ravens begin assembling outside of Scorsese’s meeting room.
The documentary side of THE KEY TO RESERVA also boasts Scorsese’s signature documentary conceits, right down to the director appearing onscreen and incorporating handheld photography to capture the unpredictability and immediacy of real life. All told, the extended spot is quite striking, and anticipates the wave of “branded content” that pervades the advertising field today.
THE KEY TO RESERVA is currently available online via the Youtube embed above.
Produced by: Jules Daly, Marjie Abrahams, Emma Tillinger
Director of Photography: Harris Savides
Production Designer: Jack Taylor
Edited by: Thelma Schoonmaker