I don't want to be a snob, but, for me, just because a film is fun and very enjoyable to watch doesn't necessarily mean it is a great film. I reserve five stars for films that are very effective and well made but that also offer a significant amount of human compassion or understanding that would ultimately shed light on human survival. For example, a film that offers a critique of society or of humans in general, or that is about human limitations, or our potentials, or perhaps gives us a peak at a particular culture or walk of life, or that gives us an alternative look at our history or a peak at our possible future would all serve as an important human resource on the avoidance of killing each other or self-destruction. A great film can offer just about anything as long as it of compelling human interest, and this film definitely meets the criteria.
The Lady Vanishes, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, one of the masters of suspense and mystery, is a film that I wish everyone in the western world, especially the younger generation in the U.S., can see, and the reason why I say that is because this movie is rather progressive in different ways, and for that reason, it is very relevant today. We are not in a world war like in WWII fighting a fascist regime, and I am not sure if one is creeping around the corner, but there are some scary things that are happening within our federal government and within society at large with respect to certain mega-power industries that are very quietly manipulating and controlling us to a certain extent at the cost of things like individual liberty, our human rights, etc. And so, the enemy that we face now is similar to the real enemy in the film -- it is the enemy from within.
The real enemy in the film is not the Nazi regime and their european collaborators who are trying to block a secret code from getting to England, but it is our own human ignorance, our fears, and our selfishness that blinds us from seeing what only one or two can clearly see -- that something is terribly wrong and that the only thing that can save us is if we stand up and do something about it and try to convince others to do the same. In today's world, the answer would be the opening of our minds to structural change in society -- the kind of change that would ultimately lead to treating the individual not as a consumer or as a certain race, or as a certain type loaded with all kinds of misinformation and stereotypes but as an independent free-thinking human being who has the ability to create his or her own world when given the opportunity to do so. These fundamental changes would ultimately give the citizen the kind of democracy that they only thought they had, but we'll save that topic for the great film-makers of tomorrow.