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jumping off the tower. Vertigo (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, US, 1958). Courtesy British Film Institute
Vertigo and the Vertiginous History of Film Theory
Fifty years after its initial release, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (US, 1958) remains one of the most celebrated films of all time. But because of its complexity, its dark romanticism, its challenging of filmic conventions, genres, and narrative time, Vertigo’s impact on the history of filmmaking is more ambiguous than that of Psycho (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, US, 1960), Dial M for Murder (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, US, 1954), and North by Northwest (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, US, 1959) — all of which have generated a number of filmic remakes and parodies.1 Vertigo’s complicated narrative structure, its psychological twists, and its discontinuous treatment of time, space, and perspective make it difficult to recreate. A very different picture emerges when we look at the place of Vertigo in film theory, where it has played a role unmatched by any other film. It has inspired theories of auteurship (Chabrol and Rohmer, Rothman), feminist film theory (Mulvey, de Lauretis, Kofman), cinematic formalism (Hitchcock, Spoto, Wood), the rethinking of the relationship of memory to time (Marker, Esquenazi), and the treatment of cinema as a form of tourism (Auiler, Kraft and Leventhal).2 It has been taken to exemplify Jacques Lacan’s “Real”
Camera Obscura 75, Volume 25, Number 3 doi 10.1215/02705346-2010-011 © 2011 by Camera Obscura Published by Duke University Press
(Modleski, Žižek) and to mark a point of fundamental crisis in narrative cinema (Deleuze, Rancière, Orr).3 By now, Vertigo is so deeply embedded in film theory (and vice versa) that it is almost impossible to read it without referencing the cinematic lexicon of scopophilia, fetishism, voyeurism, the sadistic male gaze, the objectification of the female body, mental images, relational images, the imaginary Real, the symbolic Real, and the “real Real.” What attracts so many filmmakers and critics to make Vertigo into an image, a fetish, a metafilm, the ground on which theories of identification, subjectivity, the male gaze, gender relations, or narrative crisis are constructed? The range of conflicting interpretations that Vertigo invites, I argue, is an indication of its ability to resist any particular reading. As Gilles Deleuze points out, the function of the “ground” allows for participation with or “in” the film in the form of founding a particular claim — about the art of time, gender relations, identification with characters and situations, the subjective point of view, and the political economy of desire.4 The ground marks the designation of an idea distinct from the film on which it is itself grounded — even if that reading is that Vertigo symbolizes the lack of relations between the sexes, the failure of desire, or the abyss of the Real (that is, the ground of negation). If all the competing interpretations of Vertigo have proved one thing, it is that Vertigo is not reproducible (as a film or as a theory), since it does not designate any localizable relations but ceaselessly produces relations that are themselves ungrounding. My argument is not that Vertigo is a metafilm (a film about all film); instead, I see it as potentially many films about many of the issues attributed to it, but one that does not simply represent theoretical and philosophical points. It is a film that both transforms with new theoretical readings or filmic offshoots and questions these readings by offering other possible relations and critical reflections. Vertigo swallows up the ground — the ability to distinguish the original or the real from the derived — that allows critical readings to function. Rather than evaluate which particular interpretation is better grounded than the others, I want to show how competing readings of Vertigo end up ungrounding the very theoretical apparatuses they rely on — from psychoanalytic read-
Vertigo and History of Film Theory
ings of gender politics that question the status of the “Real” to deconstructive or nonsubject-based film theories that use Vertigo to posit a crisis in narrative cinema and representation in general. I start by analyzing how Vertigo inspired semiotic and psychoanalytic theories of the pleasure of the male gaze that controls and constitutes woman (Madeleine) as an object to be looked at — a fetish. Theories like Christian Metz’s and Raymond Bellour’s rely on the audience’s identification with the obsessive desire of the male protagonist (Scottie) to possess the idealized woman object. Such theories gave rise to Laura Mulvey’s and Sarah Kofman’s feminist critiques of the male gaze. Feminist readings of Vertigo, in turn, have led to debates over the sexual identity of the subject (Modleski, Samuels),5 as well as readings that question the ontological status of both the subject and the subject of the gaze. They see Vertigo as defying the logic of identification and its symbolic order (Žižek, Esquenazi, Pisters, Deleuze),6 focusing instead on centripetal forces, forces of disjuncture and intensity (Gordon, Marker, Godard).7 Such readings of Vertigo, however, diverge. On the one hand, Slavoj Žižek uses Vertigo to demonstrate how reality is the “impossible Thing-in-itself . . . open[ing] the way to the celebration of failure” — that is, failure that grounds us in a nonreciprocal relationship with the real.8 On the other hand, Deleuze and Félix Guattari argue that with Vertigo, Hitchcock “introduces the mental image into cinema . . . a figure of thought,” that is, Vertigo produces critical thinking that operates like a rhizome — by variation, expansion, conquest, capture, offshoots.9 Together with his critical reflections on cinema, Hitchcock’s oeuvre offers a different ontological reading relating sensation to affect. By the early 1960s, he presented Psycho and Vertigo as examples of pure cinema — a formal cinema engendered by montage. In contrast to what he called “photographs of people talking,” Hitchcock defined montage as the craft of assembling images.10 At the same time, he also argued that cinema could have a transformative emotional impact on audiences.11 What makes Vertigo so attractive to film critics is that it provides a metacinematic commentary on the medium of film itself. It is its self-reflexive commentary that allows so many critics to treat Vertigo as representative of film in gen-
First the film gets away with forcing us to believe that Judy is Madeleine. and Deleuze all claim that Hitchcock’s films present crime as a form of gift exchange. this romantic vision is turned into a perverse obsession with cinema’s own simulations. the gift can also be seen as an act of aggression. Madeleine (Kim Novak). The film has been read by both feminist and psychoanalytic film theories as misogynist — shaping the sadistic male gaze that controls the object-woman. there is no restitution for the crimes committed: Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) gets away with murdering his wife. unlike in Strangers on a Train or The Wrong Man (dir. Vertigo is unique in Hitchcock’s oeuvre. in which Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) offers with Guy Haines (Farley Granger) to swap murders and then murders Haines’s wife without any agreement. Scottie ( James Stewart) gets away with making Judy (Kim Novak) over into Madeleine. 1956). The film simply returns to the destabilizing image of vertigo. who are equally implicated in the events that transpire — Madeleine’s murder. and transformations embedded in criticism. or sense of closure.14 It is. the relationship between the wrongly accused or the innocent and the criminal is blurred. since we are allowed to empathize with both Scottie and Judy. implicating the innocent in the crime — a prime example is Strangers on a Train (US. leaving Haines unjustly accused. Hitchcock. Often in Hitchcock’s films. vindication. Once Elster gets away with murder. however.104 • Camera Obscura eral. Eric Rohmer. Scottie’s madness. 1951).13 In Vertigo the gift of the fake but idealized Madeleine is given to Scottie in exchange for Elster’s getting away with the murder of the real Madeleine. establishing a “monstrous relation” that can only be severed with heavy consequences. making the rereading of Vertigo vertiginous itself. Feminists and queer theo- . twists. Critical readings of Vertigo exhibit a similar uncertainty when judging the film’s placement of the cinematic gaze. hard to tell who is innocent. and Judy’s death. Claude Chabrol.12 Within a Maussian economy. But. in Vertigo there is no final judgment. reducing her to a fetish. US. The history of the criticism of Vertigo thus reveals the implicit ideological trends. and that Madeleine is possessed by the spirit of her great-grandmother (Carlotta Valdes). Unlike in his previous films.
16 Other readings liken the gaze to a controlled vision contrived by Elster (as a stand-in for Hitchcock): “Nothing in Vertigo compels us to view the narrative through ‘Scottie’s’ eyes — on the contrary. But it is when this ambiguous position (or possession) confronts the uncertainty or apparent falsity of what we have been (and are being) shown that the gaze returns to us in the figure of a spiral. psychoanalytic theory posits that Vertigo presents an impossible masculinity.15 Alternatively. and madness turns into obsession (Scottie emerges from the asylum only to return to the fake Madeleine’s old haunts in search of a . slips over into a voyeuristic absorption in the spectacular performance of Judy as Madeleine and in the gaze that detaches itself and even reproaches Scottie for what William Rothman calls his “murderous gaze. the text could be generated in the first half through Judy’s knowing performance as Madeleine for ‘Scottie. that we can erect theories of the Real on the powers of the false without revising what we mean by the Real (that is. transforming the Real into the Baudrillardian hyperreal.”17 But both the gaze and the spectator’s alleged identification with it are contingent on figures of the past and objects of desire that never existed. the copy with no model. blurring the line between possessing and being possessed by the gaze. the spectator who watches and falls in love with Madeleine. murder turns into madness (Scottie is driven mad with guilt over Madeleine’s alleged suicide. Any identification with Scottie as the master of the romantic gaze. How is it.’ according to Gavin’s script. For example.Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 105 rists have read it as a film about the feminine or bisexual nature of Scottie’s identification with Madeleine (or the ghost of Carlotta). leaving the position of power (of the gaze) to what Jean-Pierre Oudart called l’absent — the absent one.”18 The shift between being captivated by the image of Madeleine and being captive of Scottie’s obsessive gaze forces us to see the relation of seduction to obsession. the romantic narrative turns into a facade for murder ( Judy’s performance as Madeleine is a decoy to distract Scottie and allow Elster to kill his wife). which is really a murder). then. something akin to the Lacanian outside or Real. or the Real without any reference to reality)? The inability to localize the subject of the cinematic gaze destabilizes subjects and their relations of power.
it also questions our perception and ability to distinguish the boundaries of narrative time from memory and fantasy. who hangs from the rooftop in the opening sequence. Having . rather than see time as an image that also spirals out of control. and in the camera’s simulation of his acrophobia (the famous reverse zoom). in Scottie’s pursuit of Madeleine through the streets of San Francisco. the film could be a dream or fantasy from the perspective of Scottie. it could be Scottie’s nightmare that leads him into madness — beginning with Scottie at and returning Scottie to the asylum. and Charles Barr suggest. providing the audience with an object of desire in the figure of woman. And while Vertigo installs the perspective from which the film is shot in various figures of vertigo. Repetition Compulsion Already in 1960 Jean Douchet provided a psychoanalytic reading of Hitchcock. Vertigo collapses time. guilt turns into romance ( Judy turns her being an accomplice to Madeleine’s murder into her desire to make Scottie love her for who she really is). in the animated image of his nightmare. making us ponder whether Vertigo is only the product of imagination.20 In Vertigo we are originally offered the subjective perspective of John (Scottie) Ferguson — the police inspector who in the opening sequence watches a rank. which turns into murderous rage (Scottie’s anger after he realizes he was tricked by both Elster and Judy). and fantasy into indistinguishable categories. and romance into a perverse repetition (Scottie forces Judy to become Madeleine once again). as Chris Marker has interpreted it. As Robin Wood.19 Yet such readings attempt to ground the film’s point of view with Scottie’s (in his fear or in his madness). his films created a cinema conscious of itself as a voyeuristic pleasure. memory. or.106 • Camera Obscura real ghost). James Maxfield. arguing that by presenting the character’s subjective point of view. All these twists and turns return us to the figure of vertigo that appears in a nonhuman graphic form in the opening credits and reappears throughout the film — in Madeleine’s hair.and-file police officer fall to his death as he is trying to save him. Furthermore.
Elster does not believe she is having an affair.of-view tracking shots. She inexplicably appears and disappears from the window of Carlotta’s old house without the proprietor noticing that she has even arrived. Carlotta Valdes — the mistress of an Old San Francisco tycoon who committed suicide after he took custody of their child and discarded her.Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 107 Madeleine standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge before she jumps. 1958). US. Courtesy British Film Institute developed (or realizing he has) vertigo as a result of this traumatic experience. and even ghostly. Alfred Hitchcock. Vertigo (dir. Scottie quits the force but is soon approached by an “old college chum. In these subjective point. we also become increasingly obsessed with her beautifully elusive and possessed character. and she later seems to vanish as Scottie follows her in a forest of sequoia trees. Scottie’s motherly friend and onetime fiancée. but rather that she is possessed by the ghost of her great-grandmother. The “hardheaded Scottie” reluctantly accepts the job only after seeing the beautiful Madeleine and only to fall in love with her fantastic romantic story after rescuing her when she jumps into San Francisco Bay. Madeleine appears remote. Madeleine is introduced through a series of camera movements: the first is a smooth pan that shifts into a dolly . Unlike Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes). only to be rescued by Scottie.” Gavin Elster. who wants him to follow his wife (Madeleine). it is Scottie who loses sight of Madeleine. and because we watch Scottie watching Madeleine. mysterious.
of-view shot reveals more the romantic gaze than any possible subjective point of view. and walk into the foreground. expressionless close-up of Madeleine’s profile. but we get the sense that he must feel her presence since these images are all accompanied by Herman’s romantic musical theme. Vertigo (dir.21 Madeleine is. moving from a close-up of Scottie (who looks off to his right). get up. The third is a static. Courtesy British Film Institute .of-view shot that slowly moves through the main dining room of Ernie’s Restaurant. a medium shot that frames the couple as they sit. As Scottie’s head is turned away from Madeleine.22 The infamous profile of Madeleine at Ernie’s Restaurant that Scottie feels rather than sees. installed in what seems to be Scottie’s (and our) romantic dream — a position emphasized by the fact that she is often shot with a fog filter. she also expresses the “death wish” elaborated by Sigmund Freud in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Alfred Hitchcock. therefore. The camera’s pan stops to reveal the main dining room and then dollies toward Madeleine. only to be further enhanced by Bernard Herman’s hauntingly romantic musical score. The next shot is an abrupt cut from Scottie’s perspective. 1958). Yet for psychoanalytic film theory she is not just placed in the role of the eternal mysterious feminine. focusing on her back as she sits at a table with Elster.108 • Camera Obscura shot. The free indirect subjective point. US. thus commenting on what Scottie feels rather than what he sees. but it suddenly becomes a free indirect subjective point. lingering on the image of Madeleine. the shot does not reflect his actual perspective.
for Wood. Wood singles out Scottie’s for Madeleine. do not evoke the same feeling in all spectators. In a film that presents so many different possible desires. But the film’s fascination with the portals of the past also points to something beyond “human nature” — beyond Madeleine’s personal connection to these haunting locations. and Fort Point are not stable. the graveyard of Mission Dolores. These iconic images of “old San Francisco. . The indexical images of Mission Dolores. Scottie wants to become Madeleine — to die in her place. like Scottie.”23 She leads Scottie and the camera into the portals of the past. For Madeleine. sees them as an opportunity to recover the “lost spiral of time” (even the one that never happened). It points to these locations as simple tourist sites. for the spectator of the film these locations are somehow all of these things. they serve as a metaphor for the death drive. she has evoked in us all that longing for something beyond daily reality [death] which is so basic to human nature” (85).Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 109 Wood. “old Fort Point. “Madeleine represents a wishfulfillment on a deeper and more valid level .” For the tourist they are nonplaces mediated by a preconceived image of consuming experience rather than an actual connection to place.” however. Here the line dividing cinematic escapism and the tourist’s experience of place is called into question. . as he does in his nightmare version of her recurring dream of walking down what used to be a mirrored hallway and ending up in her grave. for instance.” and the Mission San Juan Bautista (the site of her apparent death). the Legion of Honor (where we find the portrait of Carlotta Valdes). Carlotta’s old house. who makes the pilgrimage to the Vertigo locations. not even for those cinephilic tourists like Barr and Douglas Cunningham. but to Elster they represent man’s lost “power and freedom. . the Legion of Honor. but he argues that it is not just a simple desire to cure her from her illusions so as to possess her. Thus we as spectators (even native San Franciscans) are turned into tourists twice removed. Even so. It is also a desire of identification. Rather than just a seductive image of fascination or desire. argues that Madeleine is “continually associated with death. who end up looking for the ghosts of a film about impersonating ghosts and dreams of power. while the cinephile.24 Finally. the Palace of Fine Arts.
Instead. and his ending up in a sanitarium. The ideal object of fascination is a fraud. suffering from vertigo.over] narration” reminds us that this is fiction. at the expense of our identification with Scottie. unable to identify with Scottie. thus leaving the audience wondering where the film will go. We learn that Judy and Elster tricked Scottie into believing that Judy was Madeleine (Elster’s wife). Jacques Rancière argues that the “visual clumsiness of the outdated device of voice. and we are. but also that Judy loves Scottie.110 • Camera Obscura we are shocked by her death midway through the film because it shatters both Scottie’s death wish by proxy (a possible tragic ending) and the romantic fantasy (a happy ending). that Madeleine/Judy was suffering from an obsessive identification with the ghost of Carlotta.off [voice. and that Madeleine/Judy was driven to suicide when in fact Elster killed his real wife and used Scottie (who. her clothes. Like Scottie. Instead. While we are cured of our vertigo. the inquest into Madeleine’s death. he does not recognize that Judy and Madeleine are the same person. the audience cannot identify with Madeleine/Judy. We have no idea how much time has passed between Madeleine’s death. but the real Judy is in love with Scottie. we are lost in the disintegration of the images actualized in his nightmare. Scottie’s nightmare. and her hair color.” He obsessively identifies with the dead Madeleine by appropriating her dreams of death and fantasizing that he dies in her place (falling from the tower onto the roof of the mission). he obsessively attempts to turn Judy into Madeleine — forcing her to change her appearance. therefore. could not look down from the bell tower to see that the woman falling down was not Madeleine) as a witness to a false suicide. While Wood argues that it is Judy’s memory of the false suicide/real murder of Madeleine that stabilizes our perspective. Scottie’s sneaking away from the scene of the crime. Yet when he sees Judy on the streets of San Francisco. Scottie remains distraught by the death of Madeleine and suffers from “acute melancholia. whose vertigo is now exaggerated and caricatured by the use of animation.25 For both Wood and Rancière. we take a critical distance from Scottie’s obsessive voyeurism because we know what he does not: that Judy is Madeleine or Madeleine is Judy (an imposter). When .
For Bellour. even then. we have been led astray by Scottie’s obsession to possess Madeleine. “Unlike the clothes Scottie buys Judy. As the audience. his constant slippage between addressing Judy as Madeleine and talking about Madeleine in the third person makes us doubt his understanding and his sanity. Raymond Bellour claimed that all Hollywood narratives follow a male Oedipal trajectory — that they represent castration. we also realize that not only is Madeleine a fraud. however.27 This cure. this necklace cannot be duplicated. comes with a double loss: he loses both the real Judy. Just as we have been seduced by Madeleine’s feigned possession. Its status as a symbol of family jewels implies the inherited wealth that marks a truly upper. we are not sure if Scottie knows the truth or if the necklace has only retriggered his hysteria over the death of Madeleine. since it is revealed that the latter is an imposter.Oedipal) imaginary.Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 111 she dons Carlotta’s (Madeleine’s) necklace. As Virginia Wexman notes. But. As Wood suggests. It is only the psychological interpretation of the film that can make sense of what seems to be a series of narrative implausibilities: only if Scottie elevates Madeleine to the level of the Woman — a fetish object that blocks . It is only when Scottie forces Judy to be Madeleine in a reenactment of Madeleine’s death that it becomes clear that he knows. Hitchcock’s films demonstrate this securing of male identity through the staging of woman as spectacle.28 In this reading. Following Christian Metz’s argument that cinema presents a presymbolic (pre. Scottie acknowledges that she is Madeleine and that Madeleine is a fraud. and the ideal object of desire (Madeleine). but so is Scottie’s vision of Madeleine. In the process. Scottie’s identification with the beautiful but suicidal Madeleine substitutes for his fascination and fear of death inscribed in his vertigo. however.class Judy that reveals that Madeleine was always only an imaginary construct. Scottie does understand that this reenactment will help to cure him of both his perverse obsession and his vertigo — the condition that prevented him from saving Madeleine from jumping from the tower in the first place.class person: an aristocrat. who falls or jumps to her death from the same tower as Madeleine.class Madeleine onto the working.”26 It is the displacement of the necklace of the upper.
The designation of the victim. Only then can Scottie replace the real Madeleine as the victim of the film. the real and the imaginary. a victim. Madeleine is a victim (killed for her money). “hover in a zone of undecidability between fact and fiction. an intimacy that is also addressed to a collective audience. in fact. since we (as spectators) cannot identify with her. addressing herself to a future audience. and it shows that the victim is an imposter. the victim par excellence). the Other). and Scottie identifies Judy as the victim of Elster’s deception (Elster. It produces certain tensions that. Scottie. Judy. Even so. cannot be considered the victim of the film. as Susan White points out.” When we watch the other (the character or the actress) in a moment of privacy. She is discarded by Elster. But the film undermines this image.”30 Vertigo is neither simply a fiction nor is it a symbolic fact (it represents all sexual relations). takes place at the “mixed up space of non-fictional pretending. This reading can only be sanctioned by installing Vertigo in a narrative in which Scottie is equated with the eternal feminine (the Other.”29 Vertigo challenges this notion of the real woman as an abstract form and points to the paradoxical connection of the victim (whom we identify with) to the process of identification. is speaking. [one] that she will never know” (44 – 45). and the film itself. who Elster kills and then throws from the church tower. While the film rejects readings that identify all victims by simple analogies of some greater symbolic victim (the eternal feminine. ditches her when he gets the money). much like the enthralled image of Madeleine that instantiates the process of seduction. it still continues to produce victims. the living and the dead. theories of identification with the eternal feminine always assume that “somewhere the real woman. The real Madeleine. “we are caught between a presence that is nonetheless in the past. that Madeleine is possessed by a ghost. Judy identifies Scottie as the victim of her and Elster’s deception. and there is also a sense of an actress years ago. Instead. it is the enthralled image of Madeleine that stands in for the victim.112 • Camera Obscura or displaces his phobia — can we believe that the veteran detective is so blind (and able to blind us) to the hoax that Judy is Madeleine. as Janet Harbord explains. and that this idealized (ghostly) Madeleine dies instead of Elster’s real wife Madeleine.31 .
In other words. once Scottie is cured of his vertigo and of his guilt for desiring the cosmic mother. Madeleine is a pure illusion diverting our attention away from the fact that there is nothing there to see. Hence. Like all femmes fatales. in 1975. It then follows that Madeleine (the ideal woman) does not exist: she is nothing but the symptom of Scottie. and of course. the hair. Scottie unwittingly helps advance the staging of the murder by bringing the fake Madeleine to the mission. the void of her nonexistence is unmasked. Scottie’s tragedy. she is reduced to a form of representation that not only unveils the female body as the spectacle of castration but also as a site of radical lack (the abyss) that Scottie tries to cover up with fetishes (the clothes. There is no real phallic signifier.” wherein the subject disavows the threat of castration by substituting the phallus with the fetish (woman).32 This identification is an attempt to circumvent castration. where she and Elster stage the fake suicide (and the cover-up for the real murder). Scottie’s cure is to accept that he is castrated (or that he is forever barred from possessing the ideal Madeleine/mother). but it is coupled with the guilty pleasure of incest. is not his loss of Madeleine (or Judy) as his erotic obsession. but his loss of what Madeleine stands for: the desire for and identification with the mother. like Oedipus’s. Once she is rejected or. the femme fatale). It was Laura Mulvey who.Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 113 From Symbol to Symptom: From Phobia to Fetish In an attempt to free the fake Madeleine from her feigned obsession with the dead (great. She aspired to use psychoanalysis as a weapon to expose man’s anxiety of castration and the two processes by which man mitigated such anxieties: (1) a voyeurism linked to sadism wherein the subject (man) finds pleasure in ascertaining guilt and subjecting the guilty (woman) to punishment. and (2) a “fetishistic scopophilia. “ditched” by Scottie. challenged readings that normalized both man’s control of the gaze and the staging of woman as man’s fetish object (a phallic substitute) designed to mitigate man’s fears of castration or death. in Scottie’s words. . According to Metz’s logic.33 Mulvey uses Vertigo to argue that the relegation of Madeleine to a fetishistic sublime object of desire reinforces the misogyny and sadism of the cinematic gaze. the power of fascination itself. she has no reason to exist (or insist). only vertigo.grand-) mother.
examines her. Scottie will finally unlock Madeleine’s secret and discover that she is nothing but a reflection of his own lack. As Wexman argues: “Scottie’s relationship with the law is not thereby severed but merely mystified. As Kofman put it. as for Bellour. and the feeling of uncanniness. therefore.114 • Camera Obscura Scottie (and the audience through him) is given the power to subject Madeleine to his sadistic will. revealing only man’s investment in lack. no longer purely masculine. or Carlotta the dead woman/mother. It is not clear here with whom he identifies: Madeleine the hysterical woman. Mulvey. “men’s fascination with the eternal feminine is nothing but a fascination with their own double. however.”34 For Mulvey.” but she argues that feminism and film criticism need to construct a different social subject. or his confrontation with his own impotence. emphasizes that if woman does not exist. She turns the cinematic gaze against itself. It is clear. Yet. Scottie’s identity is contingent on his fascination with the womandouble and his position as subject is. the destruction of visual pleasure. She becomes the object of the voyeuristic gaze and a fetish standing in for his fatalistic compulsions. then neither does man. for his surveillance function merely shifts to a more personalized site: Madeleine’s body.35 What is at stake in these debates is the location of the subject. that seemed inevitable at the time. that through identification with woman he can displace his vertigo. he cross. Scottie is a perfect example of voyeurism (he falls in love with a woman he spies on) and of sadism (when he confronts Madeleine. Vertigo suggests that .discipline. Teresa de Lauretis calls Mulvey’s essay a “stoic. however.”36 No longer stable. Mulvey set off a series of debates among feminists and psychoanalytic film theorists about film’s role in representing sexual difference and its effect on female spectatorship. de Lauretis points out that Madeleine is not just a double but also a male construction of femininity — dressed up and rehearsed first by Elster and then by Scottie. trying to find the key to unlock her secret). brutal prescription of self. As a policeman and a man of means. His identification with Madeleine blurs the distinction between Madeleine’s obsession/identification with the dead Carlotta and Scottie’s obsession/identification with Madeleine.
In her 1986 critique of how theories about Vertigo (both psychoanalytic and formalist) obfuscate the sociopolitical implications of the film. because otherwise Scottie could have projected his fantasy about Madeleine onto Midge rather than Judy.class. She is a deeply ambiguous figure associated with the Spanish mission. celestial Madeleine and the lower. The story of Carlotta may support Wexman’s argument about the race-. She reads Vertigo as constructing and conflating gender. whether as the resources of an underdeveloped country or the body of an underprivileged woman. Hitchcock associates her with both the upper. and racial differences. It is not clear whether she is a descendant of old Spanish aristocracy or lower. a masquerade without essence. however. Wexman questions the critics’ ideological investments and class interests. These three types of opposition come together to separate the men who represent “American imperialism characterized by the freedom and the power to colonize and plunder” from the women who instead epitomize the “object of exploitation. and Novak to a manufactured romantic idol. resigning her to the “realm of exotic class marginality” (38). Wexman sees Carlotta as the real enigma haunting the film. is contingent on the actual (rather than just ideal) fit between Kim Novak’s appearance and socially established notions of beauty. The construction of Madeleine as an image of celestial beauty does not need to be anchored in reality (Elster fashions Judy into a Madeleine only to seduce and dupe Scottie).Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 115 femininity is a matter of dress. arguing that Vertigo is first and foremost a commercial film. class. tawdry Judy. Rather than clarify such ambiguities.”37 Because it is not Madeleine but Carlotta who appears in Scottie’s dream-nightmare.class. But this does not make Madeleine/Judy simply stand in for a fetishistic ideal. or whether she is religious or promiscuous. and gender-based subjection of Carlotta to her unnamed white patrician lover. but also with cabarets. This trick of switch and bait. class-. Hitchcock indulges the consumer’s impulses by reducing San Francisco to a series of disjointed tourist sites. a copy of a copy created by man to seduce (trick) another man into being an accomplice to the murder of his wife.class Latinos. but this narrative of mastery .
feminine subjectivity) into man’s desperate desire to “sustain a sense of himself that necessitates the end of woman” (100). It seems that master is vexed and not so simple where woman may participate and command. Modleski points out that because Scottie identifies with Madeleine. his attraction to Madeleine (which is not purely a desire to consume her as an object of pleasure but also to identify with her as his double) destabilizes Scottie’s position within the film. that points to selfannihilation” (95). all spectators identify with the woman as well. The figure and feeling of vertigo remain associated with woman — her mystery.39 Rather than secure Scottie’s identity as hero/victim/subject of the gaze. who is clearly no master of the gaze. at the beginning of the film. her absence — leaving us to believe that there is a resolution to Elster’s getting away with murder and . then. The film then expresses a critical female point of view connecting Scottie. moreover. though) as Judy Barton is subject to being made over within it — to look like another (whose appearance. or Scottie. who throws Judy’s love away. As Philip Monk points out: “Madeleine Elster is subject to the look (however knowing her masquerade is. But these acts end up reconnecting Scottie and Elster to the nameless man who threw away Carlotta but kept their child. who throws his wife off the tower and then ditches his girlfriend/accomplice. no subjectivity outside of men’s manipulations” (177). Modleski also collapses this feminine critique (and with it. Scottie feminizes himself when he identifies with what he believes to be a female hysteric. This feminization or destabilization of Scottie starts when.”38 Yet even Monk is unsure whether Judy can be considered a femme fatale (possessing a commanding role over her own image) since he reads her as a cipher having “no role of her own. with Elster. Tania Modleski argues that instead of providing an allmasculine point of view.116 • Camera Obscura cannot apply to either Elster. She associates the figure of vertigo with Madeleine — the forward tracking shots to the close-up of Carlotta’s and Madeleine’s hair twisted into a spiral — as “Scottie’s desire to merge with a woman who in some sense does not exist — a desire. we see him in Midge’s apartment complaining about having to wear a girdle. who must kill his wife for money and power. she has already mastered once).
” or that “woman does not exist. active cause which lures Man [Scottie] into Fall. a materialization of Man’s Fall. Slavoj Žižek repeats the argument that Vertigo is “the film about the captivating force of a sublime image. when Man purifies his desire of the pathological remainders. after we have symbolized its repressed meaning.” adding that “Vertigo will assert itself as the film which directly stands for cinema as such. Vertigo (dir. What is at stake in all these readings is not just the subject’s (man’s) impossible (guilty) desire but also the status of the transcendental subject that is caught in its own indeterminacy. Even if the final message is that “woman is only a symptom of man.”41 . So. a result. US. as well as to Scottie’s getting away with his aggressive behavior toward Judy and with “ditching” her. The figure of vertigo in Madeleine’s hair. Woman [ Judy] disintegrates in precisely the same way as a symptom dissolves after successful interpretation. But such a resolution — Scottie’s acceptance of his own death wish — would mean that woman is always dying in man’s place or to keep man in his place.”40 He then proceeds to treat Vertigo as a traditional film noir wherein “Woman [Madeleine] is not an external.” such readings reduce sexual difference to gender binaries.Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 117 with “ditching” Judy. 1958). Courtesy British Film Institute Turning the Sadistic Gaze into a Transcendental Subject In his Organs without Bodies (2004). she is just a consequence. Alfred Hitchcock.
and with Modleski that Scottie is feminized and the feminine perspective is closer to the fragile reality (the void) than the masculine subject of the gaze. that Madeleine herself was a fake. about everyman’s imaginary. Scottie “is forced to accept that the lost object which transfixes his desire never existed in the first place. His desire comes to represent “symbolic castration” hidden in every “means of fetishizing the longing itself. however.” the “mysterious je ne sais quoi ” or a “fragile pure appearance..”43 It is lack itself that we must all come to identify with. Žižek agrees with Mulvey that ultimately “nothing is the subject. here Madeleine corresponds to the “imaginary Real. Judy “is . He does not. the signifier of a certain mystery)” and is “reduced to a senseless formula” of the “symbolic Real. “a piece of shit.e. Borrowing from Wood. however. she is “the signifier of the barred Other (i.” that is.”45 That gaze. and the second two off the tower of the mission.118 • Camera Obscura Žižek argues that Vertigo represents “a double loss” (the loss of loss) that exposes man to the radical nothingness of his desire.” In part two. Žižek asserts that Vertigo is divided into three parts and a prologue. the transcendental subject. as Žižek puts it. nor does he engage with what Modleski defines as an unmasterable femininity that is both the “unconsciousness of patriarchy” and the point of identification for all the film’s spectators. that is. read the film in terms of actual gender politics.” with de Lauretis that femininity is a masquerade. each of which corresponds to Madeleine/Judy’s suicidal leaps — the first into the bay.46 He then proceeds to force these three main movements of the film to fit his definition of the “triad of the real”: “In part one. It represents the confrontation of the universal subject with the reality of castration — the object of desire is. [Madeleine] is Phi. that this nothing of negative subjectivity (desire) wants itself. is somehow dislodged from an actual spectatorship that might engage in the conventional power relations invested in the cinematic gaze.” In part three.”42 More important. such as masculine propriety (Mulvey) and feminized masculinity (Modleski).44 Instead he turns Vertigo into a metafilm — a film about film. Vertigo reveals the truth of desire. an imaginary presence at the site of the Real”. the sublime object of desire. and the “gaze of the real.
She is.” the “abyssal vortex that ruins every consistent structure. not luminous. she literally disappears into nonphallic surplus. instead.Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 119 the excremental abject-remainder. rather than Scottie’s obsessive attempt to restore it to the sublime image of Madeleine. Even though all three parts of the film focus on the figure of Madeleine/ Judy.”47 Judy presents a rupture in Scottie’s (Elster’s) perceived (projected) reality (fantasy) about women. and the background light is neon green rather than a warm red. There is a disjuncture here between how the audience sees this uncanny resemblance to the previous scene at Ernie’s and how Scottie sees it. But the actual Judy does not quite fit into this model of male fantasies.48 He reads this negative image as one in the process of becoming. forms of defense against the central abyss threatening to swallow Scottie” (162). however. She might not be the horrifying Thing itself. Esquenazi describes the image of Judy as “exactly the negative (in the technical sense of the term) of the sublime profile.” the remainder of the Real that can have no perspective of her own. As such she is a liminal subject — the nothingness that sustains Scottie’s fantasy. Jean-Pierre Esquenazi counters this argument in his analysis of the scene of the famous profile shot of Madeleine in Ernie’s Restaurant — the scene in which Judy and Scottie return to her dimly lit hotel room. an image open to other possible readings.” Judy faces left rather than right. he claims that “all of these three figures are. her face is somber. of course. or attempts to reconstruct it. She is neither the objectcause of Scottie’s desire (the stuff that dreams are made of ) nor is she the void (the traumatic-elusive Thing itself ). At the same time. By consigning Judy to the abject (excremental). and the victim that accepts her own self-negation. these two chromatically opposing images — . she cannot express what Žižek calls the “real Real” — “the horrifying Thing.” As such. She is a subject only through her relinquishing of herself to Scottie’s whims and desires. thus undermining her role as Scottie’s defense mechanism. the “pathological stain. the primordial object. allowing Žižek to claim that only Scottie can perceive the gaze of the real. but she exposes the artificiality of male fantasies about love.
as materialized Nothingness. it would seem that it is the second image (the afterimage of Judy) that is more sublime than the first romantic image of Madeleine (framed in red). and like Judy he is shot in profile surrounded by the sea-green glow of the neon light. as an embodiment of the impossible Thing.”51 And in fact Žižek argues that “the sublime object is precisely ‘an object elevated to the dignity of the Thing.120 • Camera Obscura of Madeleine framed by a sea of warm red and Judy framed by sea green — demonstrate J. Accordingly. the ideal object dissolves. W.’ an ordinary. Nothing more can be said than they are non-phallic. a pure receptable [sic] for the sublime Idea of Madeleine. or to a serial repetition that points instead to difference (variation and possibilities)? Žižek instead reads this image as the common face of Judy.e. But how are we to read all these echoes and doublings? Do they amount to coherent resemblances or equivalences pointing to some central meaning (or meaninglessness). a kind of Platonic chora. In this case. an incomplete.49 It is precisely the same sea-green glow from which Judy reappears as Madeleine (when she emerges from the bathroom in the Empire Hotel). everyday object that undergoes a kind of transubstantiation and starts to function.entity.”50 This placing of woman as abject or not-all does not. . . it is a device for revealing the masculine myths and phantasies invested in representing woman as all. von Goethe’s rather erotic description of the afterimage. “the common redhead. Lacan back-handedly repositions women in a dependent position. which he likens to “a proto.”52 Judy. formless slime. but — to paraphrase Lacan — this gift of her person ‘is changed inexplicably into a gift . where the scarlet bodice of the “well-favoured girl” leaves a sea-green afterglow. leaving what Žižek calls “the dross of the common object” (84). .” is transformed into the sublime Madeleine. “Judy finally gives herself to Scottie. But as soon as Scottie realizes that Judy is the real substance of Madeleine. Furthermore. Scottie repeats Judy’s pose by sitting in the same chair. ineffable.” She continues: “Claiming this residual jouissance of the woman — an ecstasy that man has (mis)taken for divinity — is beyond discourse and knowledge. i. “tell us what woman is. as Elizabeth Grosz points out. in the symbolic economy of the subject.
yet simultaneously. but for the audience who identifies him as the romantic leading man. Žižek turns this impotence of the powerless witness into a “possible experience of Sublime intense (sexual) enjoyment. 1946] to Rear Window [US. . . is a “revolting gift of shit” — not for Judy who loves him although he no longer plays the romantic savior she fell in love with. repulsive even” (86). becomes a virtual big other which has no trace of actuality. and at a more fundamental level. he argues that in reality this perspective (ideology) is an imposter. as Patricia Pisters points out. This “gaze of the real. Žižek claims that “the lessons of Hitchcock’s great masterpieces from Notorious [US. but now it has become a transcendental notion. What makes Žižek’s analysis of Vertigo distinctive is his reading of the gaze not as an instrument of phallic mastery and control (Mulvey). by privileging the gaze of the “immobilized witness” over one that acts in the interest of an aggressively maledominated perspective. the Lacanian subject.Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 121 of shit’: she becomes a common woman. revealed in the last section of the film.”53 Ironically.”54 That is. instead of treating the gaze as an act of violence sustained by the dominant ideological perspective. [show us] that the gaze does connote power. . “Desire is still based on lack and absence. we become the “Impotent Master. which according to Žižek is a Hitchcockian subject.”55 . it connotes the very opposite of power — impotence — in so far as it involves the position of an immobilized witness. but as an unmasterable. unknowable “real” that haunts the subject — a position that is not entirely distinct from Modleski’s. . the everyman figure. Against what he calls the “commonplaces of deconstructionist feminism” that link the gaze to power. It is just as plausible to argue that the actual Scottie. . The master is always virtual: “It is a game run by the Big Other and the symbolic machine. is philosophically subjected to an a-historical transcendental principle that is always mediated by representations. 1954] . Rather than being left with misogynistic pleasure. identifying with the sadistic male gaze (Mulvey). In short.” In this shift.” now defined as universal abjectness. the imposter is an imbecile who misperceives as the outcome of his decisions what actually ensues from the automatic run of the symbolic machine” (169).
camera angles. How can one tell if there is any truth to Vertigo when all these images are based on simulations of class differences (produced by hair dye. So how is it that we can distinguish the sublime or possessed Madeleine from the “tawdry” Judy when both are simulations of Hollywood stereotypes of class played out by the same actress? Similarly. and the gaze of the criminal (Elster). and of . But the only pleasure mentioned by Žižek is that of the voyeur who (helplessly) watches (enjoys) murder and rape. sublime. that she is Madeleine (Elster’s wife) and then that she is Judy (not Madeleine). Beyond the Construction of a Perverse Imaginary Both Wood and Esquenazi point out that the femme facile ( Judy) is no less an act than the femme fatale (Madeleine). Criminality both undermines and replaces his authority. a copy of a feigned dream that the Madeleine imposter claimed to have had. Scottie’s nightmare that marks the presence of the abyssal Thing (the “real Real”) connecting him to the “gaze of the real” is nothing but a simulation.122 • Camera Obscura Even so. and office furnishings). theoretical maneuvers neglect the agency. of romantic love (simulated by music. and of any other potential witnesses (Midge. who allows two men to project their obsessive fantasies on her and to make and remake her into something she is not. representation. clothing. Judy/Madeleine stages both characters for Scottie to seduce him into believing that she is someone else: first. Where is the “space of reality” concealed by such semblances? Vertigo is nothing but a film about endless dissimulations. possessed (fake) Madeleine to look like his wife (but in the image of a Hollywood star) to dupe the seemingly hardheaded. and finally Judy. Judy) other than that of the impotent master (Scottie). and background settings). rational Scottie (who then makes up another time the seemingly streetwise redheaded Judy). of the victim (Madeleine). Elster. a seemingly devoted yet murderous husband. fog filters. and symbolic authority is exchanged for pleasure. rehearses and makes up the blonde.
between the musical score and Scottie’s emotional affect. Gordon’s film “frees Judy Barton from man’s hold. in this case. Herman. Elster). It is not a documentary of Conlon conducting the Paris Opera. performing Herman’s score. But this repetition highlights the image of mastery and the controlling of mood that guides rather than reflects Scottie’s emotional response to Madeleine/ Judy. which is more of a supplementary film than a remake. Feature Film foregrounds deception and simulation. the conductor of the Paris Opera. In Feature Film we have only the connection of the hand of the master to the eye and the ear. between Elster and Scottie who vie to control Madeleine. Douglas Gordon’s Feature Film (UK. Feature Film draws attention to what Monk calls the truth of the lie. forearms. While vertigo may have visual effects. but a film in which Conlon performs the role of the conductor. What disappears in Feature Film is the gendering of sound that divides Scottie’s emotional affect from Judy’s “siren sound” (178). there is no longer any ground to fight over. ears. from one generation to another? Rather than remaking the figure of Judy as an icon of seduction by obsessively framing the female body. obsessively repeating only Vertigo’s claustrophobic framing of the body — the close-ups of hands. since without the snare of an enthralling image (Madeleine as simulacra or property). it is only a symptom of a disease of the inner ear. This is a performance of a performance that repeats the musical score of Vertigo in the film’s own real time. and the face of Conlon. which.Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 123 sublime objects of desire motivated by the nostalgia for a tyrannical vision of freedom and power but modeled on the image of dead women passed down from one man to another. Gordon. a series of rivalries between men — between Hitchcock and Gordon as filmmakers. . Conlon. presents James Conlon. between Herman as composer and Conlon as conductor.” revealing underneath the look. 2000). Gordon exposes the repeated gesture of mastery in myopic detail. eyes.57 By divorcing the sound of Vertigo from its image. As Monk claims.56 But these are false rivalries. is manipulated by the hand of a series of masters (Hitchcock.
And true to his misogynist tendencies Hitchcock will make her pay.class woman a “revolting gift of shit. Elster. but also Midge who. T. which Judy fearfully or guiltily mistakes for the ghost of Madeleine that literally .124 • Camera Obscura Feature Film’s supplementary commentary on Vertigo is complicated by Vertigo’s play of doubles: the hysterical man’s desire to identify (double or couple) with the woman who masquerades as the double for a ghost as a means to attract him returns in the form of endless repetition.58 Nor do they seem to be interested in the fact that Scottie is a policeman (a representative of the “repressive state apparatus” — a figure that Hitchcock deeply distrusted) and Elster a bourgeois capitalist (a member of the ruling class whose interests the police serve). it is quite strange that so few psychoanalytic readings of the film even notice the commodification of the image of male fantasies designed by men (Elster and Scottie) and manufactured by women (Madeleine/Judy. As Wexman points out. Furthermore. critics do not seem to ask why the bourgeois woman is considered sublime but the working. after all. the film’s repetition or doubling of men obsessed with power and freedom to control women amounts to turning them into an image — a pure appearance without any material reality. He focuses his (and our) entire hysterical energy on Madeleine’s betrayal. advertises brassieres) to seduce or please men. This woman is impelled to reenact her masquerade of being a double so as to recuperate the love of a man obsessed with the past. Elster not only can throw women away but he can also get away with murdering his rich wife (who ironically provides him with both the means and the motive to do so).” when in fact both Madeleine and Judy are played by the same actress. “at no time does the seasoned detective Scottie Ferguson ever consider that the mastermind of the schema and appropriate focus of his anger is his old school chum. Along these lines. Even Scottie’s vertigo is not a real illness but an illness of perception (or the perception of illness) that masks the absence of a reality. Jefferson Kline argues. Given the attention and effort that Vertigo puts into producing appearances. As a member of the ruling class.”59 Most readings of Vertigo hardly ever note that the involuntary instrument for Scottie’s vengeance is a nun.
It is a nun that Judy spots emerging from the darkness that causes her to jump and fall to her death. if not damaged by vertigo. Scottie’s obsessions become consistently more violent and his perspective becomes increasingly less reliable as the narrative draws to a close. such as Scottie’s hanging from the roof in the first sequence only to end up in Midge’s apartment in the next. in fact.Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 125 scares her to her death. leaving out any representation of the probably long recovery period in the hospital. This is a frame narrative in which men escape justice. a series of mysterious ellipses in the film. Pisters notes that he reads both the Hitchcockian and the Lacanian subject as “a guilty subject. Scottie’s perception is presented as destabilized. Madeleine. in a dream. ignoring that from the very first scene. This figure points to what Chabrol and Rohmer call Hitchcock’s deeply ingrained Catholicism. There are. Furthermore. The man that Scottie is pursuing in the opening sequence gets away.”62 Rather than confront the reality of cinema as an industry that commodifies the images of both man and woman. This allows them to gloss over Vertigo’s own criticism of Hollywood’s production of male fantasies and male subjectivity. in the production of stars the producer transforms a woman to dupe. thus mirroring a biased perspective in which men have the power to throw women away. but so do Elster and Scottie themselves. Put in another way. always already guilty of wanting enjoyment. which has its impossible origin in the Real. jouissance. “makes Gavin Elster into an icon of men who run the film industry. what system of exchange equates the death of Judy with the impotence of Scottie? “The story of Vertigo. readings of Vertigo tend to focus on effects of such commodification rather than its causes. Here we see what Žižek means by Jansenism based on guilt and God.” says Esquenazi. there is no explanation for why Judy must pay for Scottie’s and Elster’s sins. Such ellipses leave open the possibility that the whole film is nothing but a product of Scottie’s imagination — while in a hospital ward.60 Commenting on Žižek’s reading of Vertigo. Judy) . And in all cases an innocent (the cop. abuse and kill.”61 While Žižek’s reading of the gaze of the real — which he also terms the “Gaze of God” — punishes man for his desires alone. or while hanging from the rooftop.
which she deflates by replacing Carlotta with her own likeness.” We understand what it is “in” Judy that attracts Scottie (her likeness to the “dead” Madeleine). by the end. What Midge reveals here is that Scottie’s vertigo extends beyond his acrophobia into what Hitchcock termed his character’s “necrophilia. Symmetrically. Midge draws attention to what Scottie is unwilling to confront: that his desire and love are not authentic but merely a reaction compulsion to a carefully crafted advertising campaign. There are moments of disruption of the cinematic gaze already in the first two movements of the film — in the free indirect subjective point of view that gazes at Madeleine at Ernie’s Restaurant and in Madeleine’s point of view just before she jumps into the San Francisco Bay. but. Scottie’s response to what he sees as Midge’s offensive painting demonstrates his inability to distinguish between different levels of time — the virtual past (Carlotta) and the actual present (the virtual Madeleine and the actual Judy). but it is not clear why he is attracted to Madeleine to begin with. however. becomes more radical in the last movement of the film. The disruption. all female characters are literally thrown away: Carlotta (by the anonymous man). and Midge (by the film itself). The film is shot from a subjective point of view. Judy (by both Elster and Scottie). its inconsistency puts subjectivity itself into crisis. Madeleine (by Elster). This is a devastating critique of the effect of man’s (as both character and filmmaker) desire not for love of but for power over and freedom from actual women. Another element of a critique of male fantasies can be seen in Midge’s painting of herself in the place of Carlotta — a gesture that ridicules Scottie’s romantic fantasy about Madeleine. . Far from providing a more authoritative perspective.class lady? Is it her likeness to the image of the dead Carlotta? Or is it her alleged obsession with death? In this context.126 • Camera Obscura gets killed. where Judy’s perspective is juxtaposed to Scottie’s and where Hitchcock more frequently deploys free indirect subjective point of view. she knows about the power of the image. Is it simply her simulation of the star image and her packaging of a fragile and unapproachable upper. Being in the advertising business.
we get to see. by association. the more we see him and the vision as obsessive. which transforms the uncanniness of repetition into a sense of claustrophobia. At this point the gaze is turned back at him. sometimes presented with a point of view of one of the protagonists” — that unhinges the process of identification. Subjects and notions of selfhood break down in the film. The more he attempts to reconstruct this vision. The obsessive gaze reveals that the masculine propriety of the gaze (Scottie’s and. just as Judy is not the same as Madeleine.”63 The tropes of wandering and wondering recall what Deleuze calls the “cinema of the seer. This does not mean that Scottie is the same as Elster. Scottie does indeed stand in Elster’s place. ours) is deeply installed in a social way of looking at romance and social agency promoted by 1950s Hollywood media. by the time he has a nightmare after the inquest into Madeleine’s death. Scottie attempts to overcome his feeling of helplessness by identifying not with Madeleine but with the institutional forms that disempower Judy. Judy. In the first part of the film the camera often mimics Scottie’s viewpoint — we watch Scottie watching Madeleine through the filter of a romantic vision. However.” where the protagonist . Scottie becomes a victim of what we come to understand as a vision that is not his own — a vision constructed by someone else (Elster. and maniacal. Hitchcock. Hollywood producers) for him (and us) to see. For Pisters it is the exposure of the role of the spectator within the film — as “sometimes consciously addressed by the camera.Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 127 the free indirect subjective point of view undermines authority by exposing the cinematic power to manipulate what and how. While the nun may stand in for the ghost of the actual Madeleine (or for the symbol of Judy’s guilt for her role in killing Madeleine or usurping Carlotta’s necklace). as an audience. and Scottie’s madness slips over into the madness of the initial romantic vision itself. In the last movement of the film. The male hysteria over feeling out of control manifested in Scottie’s repetition compulsion is only further enhanced by the aggressively controlled framing of Madeleine/Judy. controlling. allowing the spectator to “wonder and wander on his or her own terms.
the crime scene — Vertigo draws together various perceptions of time. images. but it does not resolve them. and conflicting memories. Scottie does not murder Judy like Elster murdered Madeleine. place. repetition functions more like the uncanny (a recurrent theme of what is unsettled and unsettling) than like a simple repetition compulsion (a symptomatic reaction induced by the return of repressed experiences). doubling. Ironically. It is the very repetition of events. cannot reconstruct the process of identification or pass judgment on events. where the eye doubles for the image of vertigo. In the film. the resurrection of the untimely quality of the film that confuses past. and the delusion that the past . Yet this eye belongs to another woman.64 The seer can only establish a network of relations that are constantly transforming. Repetition of the Same or Repetition as Difference In Vertigo repetition does not function as a return of the same. and affective gestures that unsettles any sense of grounding. and redoubling like the initial image of vertigo appearing in Saul Bass’s opening titles. Even Judy. Judy’s performance of Madeleine. By recalling the ghosts of previous events and their images in such iconic spaces — the place of Madeleine’s death. present. though he may (this time) actually be responsible for her death. can no longer play the part of the rich woman possessed by the ghosts of the past. who is neither Madeleine/Judy nor Carlotta. the site of Scottie’s traumatic inability to save the woman he loves. it is Judy as Judy who is actually haunted by the ghosts of the past because she allows herself to be possessed by Scottie’s controlling the image of that past. and future. It is not clear if this nameless woman stands in for woman as the figure of vertigo or for the film’s affect on the spectator (that is Scottie). The famous scene in which Judy emerges from the bathroom bathed in a green filtered light as if she were indeed a phantasm signals various repetitions: the romantic aestheticism (the exaggerated use of fog filters framing Madeleine in the first half of the film). who is restored to the role of playing Madeleine.128 • Camera Obscura becomes a spectator and. as such.
1958). Yet if we select the image of the falling policeman. We are not given his subjective point of view. it does not resolve the vertigi- Scottie embraces Judy as she emerges as Madeleine and is transported back to the Mission San Juan Bautista. Alfred Hitchcock. we do not see where he is falling. of Madeleine/Judy falling off the bell tower. and of the dream image of himself falling into the void.conscious image (that Judy is aware she is stepping into character). This repetition of the gesture of falling challenges our understanding of closure: How can Scottie be cured when he repeats the very same gestures (signs) of vertigo? How can the repetition of the very image of falling into not one continuous past but many discontinuous images of the past provide us with a conclusion to a film about vertigo? To suggest a closure would mean that we have to select one of the various images of vertigo as a point of departure. a self. Vertigo (dir. or what has fallen before him. Courtesy British Film Institute . Scottie assumes the very position of falling — of the policeman who fell to his death. and as a simulation (an image with no origin).Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 129 doubles for the future. however. The closing image of the film remains equally unsettled. This time. a hallucinatory image (that Judy is possessed by the ghost of Madeleine who is in turn possessed by the ghost of Carlotta). US. This single scene calls attention to itself as a purely cinematic image (produced through the use of fog filters).
en-scène? Does the film not also make us think about how we are drawn in. or the camera’s circling around the image of Judy and Scottie as they embrace. the potential remake of Madeleine as a love story or a melodrama. nostalgia for the past. and perplexed? The final return to the image of vertigo — the virtual or potential image of falling — suggests (as Scottie does at the end of the film) that it is “too late” to find a cure or give a sense of closure. seduced. he realizes that she is already dead. we must realize that his vertigo is never stable. enlightened. Here the camera moves around the two . Here she functions as a grounding device. the performance of the past. But as he brings Madeleine to life or back to life through his memories. It is this image of Madeleine that allows him to survive time travel. Time travel is briefly alluded to in Vertigo when Judy and Scottie are transported from the Empire Hotel to the stables at the Mission San Juan Bautista. Even if we were to assume that it was only Scottie who suffers from vertigo (rather than agree that the film itself produces a sense of vertigo). Even if Scottie continually returns to the past. the protagonist of La jetée is forced to return to the “portals of the past” in search of his actual or fantasized memory image of Madeleine. Vertigo is translated and transformed by Scottie’s obsession with Madeleine and his maniacal control over Judy. which has been spiraling out of control for the duration of the film. How are we then to assume that this vertigo. repelled.130 • Camera Obscura nous twists in Madeleine’s hair. Unlike Scottie. the figure of vertigo is not just a recurring nightmare of seeing the policeman fall to his death. the imaginary past. spiraling out from the Empire Hotel to the stables at the Mission San Juan Bautista. That is. will suddenly end with the mise.” as Marker suggests in La jetée (France. not a mark of instability. and the potential ending of the film). where others have perished or been driven mad in the process of returning. it will always be “too late. being haunted by the past) with various layers of the future (the potential death of Scottie or his potential cure. duped. 1962) — a film he claimed to be a remake of Vertigo. Vertigo blurs various forms of the past (the actual past. the remains of the past.
both an actual and a virtual image of a potential past and a potential future — or potentially another film. leaving us without any sense of grounding. the background is also moving in the opposite direction. and an indiscernability between the sensation of vertigo and an excess that collapses the status of the . But it is not only the camera that moves. since the stables are darker. confronting all of those critical concepts that have been grounded on a particular reading of the film. as it is he who turns to look over his shoulder. men with power and money. There is a persistent temporal modulation between the virtual present.Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 131 characters. Elster. The endless spirals that wind through the film and the critical discourse generated by it produce a series of uncertainties. the spectator’s fascinated gaze. in the scene of the spectacular embrace we only see the swirling image of vertigo that simultaneously spins inward around the characters and turns outward onto the virtual past or the virtual future. and future. therefore. As the camera rotates. that of the stable at the Dolores Mission where he last kissed Elster’s wife whose double he has now created. as Marker puts it. Scottie suddenly realizes that they have been transported. The identification with Scottie is confronted with the fluidity of identifications with Madeleine. and with death. female sexuality. This background image of the stables at night does not forewarn an ominous future to come because Judy and Scottie will not return to the stables. Similarly. only to return to his embrace of Madeleine/Judy and the hotel room. placing the two at the center of the spiral. Scottie “discovers another set around him. This is. Or. we see the hotel room dissolve into the stables at the mission.”65 What is so unsettling about this scene is that it simultaneously visualizes vertigo by using the camera to circle around the characters and reveals Scottie’s realization that their embrace transports them not to the eternal sea (where they first kiss) but to the site where Madeleine died. seemingly shot at night rather than in the daylight as the earlier scene in the same location. They are only seen to return to the church tower on the night of Judy’s death. This is not a purely melancholic vision on the part of Scottie (a conjuring up or inhabiting of the past). with life that wants nothing from us. past.
and Douglas Gordon have claimed to have been deeply influenced by Vertigo. Nicole Garcia. It ungrounds any linear or perspectivalist interpretation (vision) in favor of vertigo. and Camera Obscura’s reviewers for all their wonderful comments and suggestions. identities. see John Orr’s Hitchcock and the Twentieth Century Cinema (London: Walflower Press. 1984). the spiral proves to be the rule. to possess Madeleine. It is not clear if we are left in the image of falling. The never. Hitchcock: The Murderous Gaze (Cambridge. William Rothman. Paul Verhoeven. “Fifty Years of Dizzy. MA: Harvard University Press. 11 May 2008. Hitchcock (Paris: Éditions Universitaires.” New York Times. David Lynch. and resemblances — falling into a spiral pathway made of bifurcations.” Terrance Rafferty. where we all lose our bearings. “Vertigo hasn’t been terribly influential. and fails. Mike Figgis. One might want to qualify this claim. vertiginous. breaks. 2005). I thank Mario Biagioli. . Laura 2. which leaves us with a sense of failure — with failed desires (Žižek). Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer. For a more complete study of the influences of Vertigo and of Hitchcock’s films in general on international cinema. and class). Brian de Palma.132 • Camera Obscura image as cipher (the object of fascination) and the image as surface (the simulation of beauty. 1.” Terrance Rafferty has argued. seduction. Rather than presenting historical rupture with narrative cinema (Deleuze) or the failure of narrative and cinematic fascination (Rancière). like Scottie who tries. and manipulative in trying to possess it through writing about it. Tom Conley. 1957). as filmmakers like Chris Marker. and meanders. Courtesy of Hitchcock. the failure to ground the film on an image or idea (Deleuze). as we let the film fall away from us as the figure of the remade Madeleine falls away from Scottie over the edge of the bell tower. “For a film so revered. John Orr. ideas.ending obsession with the film leaves us indecisive. Notes Dedicated to the memory of John Orr. the failure of the fascinated gaze (Rancière) — or if we too have been caught in the act of falling away from all of these attempts to ground images.
11 – 12). Hitchcock et l’aventure de Vertigo: L’invention à Hollywood (Hitchcock and The Adventure of Vertigo: As Hollywood Invention) (Paris: CNRS Éditions. Cinema (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1984). Footsteps in the Fog: Alfred Hitchcock’s San Francisco (Santa Monica. The Women Who Knew Too Much: Hitchcock and Feminist Theory (New York: Routledge. 1988). Martin’s Press. Jean-Pierre Esquenazi. The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock (London: Plexus. Sarah Kofman. Alfred Hitchcock in interviews with François Truffaut. 1986). Marshall Deutelbaum and Leland Poague (Ames: Iowa State University Press. French Radio Broadcast from 1962. Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic (New York: St. “The Hitchcock/Truffaut Tapes. reprinted in Wood. Tania Modleski. NY: Doubleday. The Plague of Fantasies (New York: Verso. 1992). 1998). Male Anxiety: The Essential Hitchcock. Dan Auiler. 2002]. Teresa de Lauretis.” in A Hitchcock Reader. accessed 18 October 2010). Vertigo [London: British Film Institute. 2001). MA: MIT Press. “Male Desire. 1997).hitchcockwiki. NY: Cornell University Press. 1989). Hitchcock: Fifty Years of His Motion Pictures (Garden City.com/wiki/Interview:_Alfred _Hitchcock_and_Francois_Tuffaut_%28Aug/1962%29 (note misspelling of Truffaut in URL. 21. Hitchcock’s Films Revisited (New York: Columbia University Press. 1985).” tape no.chrismarker.” Screen.toursanfranciscobay. 16 (1975): 6 – 18. Catherine Porter (Ithaca.on-vertigo (accessed May 2008). no.com/tours/hitchcocks-vertigo. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.html). Robin Wood.” www. Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture (Cambridge. Slavoj Žižek. in which individuals would set their own course. 1991). Slavoj Žižek. Alice Doesn’t: Feminism. 219 – 30.org/a-free-replay-notes. CA: Santa Monica Press. ed. Donald Spoto.Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 133 Mulvey. Jeff Kraft and Aaron Leventhal. 2002). which is distinct from the pilgrimage that Lynda Myles and Michael Goodwin wrote about in San Francisco Magazine in 1982 (see Charles Barr. Spoto. Slavoj Žižek. Hugh Tomlinson and . “Free Play: Notes on Vertigo. 1988). Cinema 1: The Movement Image. Chris Marker. 371 – 87. The Enigma of Woman: Woman in Freud’s Writings. www. trans. Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Lacan: (But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock) (London: Verso. trans. There has been a tour of the sites shot in Vertigo that has attracted visitors for several years (www . Gilles Deleuze. Semiotics. 1979). 195 – 96. 3.
Vertigo.” special issue. Orr. Feminisms. Chris Marker’s La jetée (France. trans. Marcel Mauss. Alfred Hitchcock in a 1964 interview. Difference and Repetition. 6. trans. 7. “Allegory and Referentiality: Vertigo and Feminist Criticism. 3 (1986): 32 – 41. Hitchcock and the Twentieth Century Cinema. See Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari.html (accessed 5 May 2008). uk. and Queer Theory (New York: State University of New York Press. The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies. I am referring to the following films that directly invoke Vertigo as a reference: Douglas Gordon’s Feature Film (UK. 17 – 21. 2003). Patricia Pisters. Deleuze. first aired on the BBC program Monitor. 8. xii. 9. 1994). 62 – 63.egs.com/watch?v=ydvU64L758c (accessed 15 May 2008). 76 – 78. “Negation and Cinematic Vertigo. 203. see Virginia Wright Wexman. MLN 106 (1991): 910 – 32.youtube. Hitchcock. 1988 – 98).134 • Camera Obscura Barbara Habberjam (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1998). and Susan White. 1987). Paul Patton (New York: Columbia University Press. Jacques Rancière. Cinema 1. Slavoj Žižek. For a more in. 2000). Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Ian Cunnison (London: Routledge. 12.” Film Quarterly 39. 200 – 205. and the Film Canon. Hitchcock’s Bi-textuality: Lacan. 1954). Deleuze. Cinema 1. CA: Stanford University Press. 4. For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as Political Factor (London: Verso. 1986).edu.depth critique of the feminist literature on Vertigo. 1962). The Matrix of Visual Culture (Stanford. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. 10. . Robert Samuels. 13.moma. Chabrol and Rohmer. 11.” a talk at the European Graduate School. Gilles Deleuze.” in “Comparative Literature.org/exhibitions/1999/hitchcock/interview/ interview_9. trans. “The Critic as Consumer: A Film Study in the University. no. 1991). and Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du Cinéma (France. www. 5. August 2009. See Peter Bogdanovich’s 1963 interview with Alfred Hitchcock on www.
Douglas Cunningham. no. Screen. Kofman. trans. no. 36 – 40. John Howe (London: Verso. Marker. 24. Although it is Oudart who coins the phrase the absent One. The Women Who Knew Too Much. Hitchcock. War Machines.” in Images in Our Souls: Cavell. “ ‘It’s All There. Psychoanalysis. Wood. Sigmund Freud. Rothman.” 22. 2 of Hitchcock’s Cryptonymies (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 18. 1 (1974): 22 – 31. Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity.” Film Criticism 14. “Cinema and Suture. structural reading of this position as one that is not necessarily connected to a subjective point of view. 1987). 311 – 12. trans. Vertigo. Cunningham defines the tour . 19 – 25. It’s No Dream’: Vertigo and the Redemptive Pleasures of the Cinephilic Pilgrimage. Hitchcock’s Films Revisited. 4 (1977): 35 – 47. 23. 21. ed. “Vertigo: The Unknown Woman in Hitchcock. 3 (1961): 5. 15. 85. 18. Hitchcock’s Bi-textuality. Joseph H. 2005). See Marc Augé. “A Dreamer and His Dream: Another Way of Looking at Hitchcok’s Vertigo. Hitchcock’s Films (New York: A. Smith and William Kerrigan (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. trans. 16. Modleski. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Kari Hanet.Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 135 14. no. 42. 47 – 49. 17. “Hitch et son public” (“Hitch and His Public”). who presents a more radical. 19. it is Daniel Dayan in “The TudorCode of Classical Cinema. Cinema 1. 112 – 15. James Maxfield. Jean-Pierre Oudart.” 1969. Tom Cohen. Jacques Rancière calls this the moment of reversal that transforms the gaze of the detective into the fascinated gaze. 64 – 81. Samuels. S. Deleuze. “Free Play. vol.” Screen 49 (2008): 123 – 41. Rancière. Barnes and Tantivy. William Rothman.” Film Quarterly 28. 1961). 2009). Cahiers du cinéma. 113 (1960): 7 – 15. “Negation and Cinematic Vertigo. no. James Strachey (New York: Norton. The Enigma of Woman. Jean Douchet. 201 – 3. and Cinema.” 20. 1966). Barr. Robin Wood.
Celia Britton. serve merely as springboards for a potentially much larger phenomenological — even spiritual — experience. The well-trodden landmarks and geographies . 69 – 72. “Allegory and Referentiality.” 40. 4. 31. 33. Wexman. 56. Ben Brewster. 35. a journey to a revered place. I see this appeal of the actress and the act of looking at the other in a moment of privacy to apply to Vertigo.” 37. Rancière. 36. Communications. The Imaginary Signifier: Psychoanalysis and Cinema. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. Annwyl Williams. Wood. 23 (1975): 235 – 350. 37. De Lauretis. .136 • Camera Obscura of Vertigo/San Francisco as “a pilgrimage . Christian Metz.” 925. trans. . Raymond Bellour. Alice Doesn’t. where he argues that San Francisco is reduced to a picture postcard.” 26. Hitchcock’s Films. Wexman. “Negation and Cinematic Vertigo. Enigma of Woman. no. many of whom were also transformed into erotic ideals under Hitchcock’s own tutelage” (33). 43. .” 6 – 18. See also Fredric Jameson’s “Reading Hitchcock.” 38. 34.” 25. spiritual one. 2008).” October 23 (1982): 15 – 42. 28. “The Critic as Consumer. . Janet Harbord. It has often been noted that the story of an ordinary young woman who is transformed into a celestial beauty by a controlling man recreates the director’s relationships with his female stars. Kim Novak’s position as a manufactured romantic idol is a crucial component of the film’s power. devoid of any experiential notion of San Francisco (21). White. 129. “In Vertigo. 30. Mulvey. “The Critic as Consumer. “Le blocage symbolique” (“Symbolic Blockage”). 1986). 155. but its ultimate destination is an intangible. . Wexman. and Alfred Guzzetti (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 27. Chris Marker: La Jetée (London: Afterall Books. 29. Although Harbord is referring to Chris Marker’s La jetée. 32. Kofman. “The Critic as Consumer.
Slavoj Žižek. Organs without Bodies. Hitchcock’s Films. the gradual deepening of his involvement. is designed as a critical “encounter” with Deleuze. 78. 41. 162. the second takes us from her attempted suicide and their meeting. Monk does not argue that Scottie is feminized but that the film is about the male loss of mastery. 44.” 47. The Women Who Knew Too Much. Žižek. to Judy’s death and the curing of Scottie’s vertigo.Cross: The Hollywood Films of Douglas Gordon (York. 46. Tarrying with the Negative: Kant. NC: Duke University Press. 2003).Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 137 38. 2004). Modleski. 195 – 96. and the Critique of Ideology (Durham. Scottie est devant l’image à la fois semblable à et inverse de celle à laquelle il tournait le dos. 87 – 93. The Metastases of Enjoyment: Six Essays on Women and Causality (London: Verso. 163. Philip Monk. Esquenazi. et il se détache sur une ambiance verte et non plus rouge. 45. 184. Slavoj Žižek. Žižek. See Wood. Hegel. Double. 43. The Women Who Knew Too Much. and Žižek.creation of Madeleine. 168. 48. 187. il est sombre et non plus lumineux. Et cette fois. and passes through the development of their relationship. 39. UK: York University Press. 1993). In fact. 2005). 164. et . the third begins with his meeting with Judy. The text reads: “L’image de Judy est exactement l’image negative (au sens technique du terme) du profil sublime offert chez Ernie. Hitchcock et l’aventure de Vertigo. through their developing relationship to her death and his breakdown. 42. 40. Slavoj Žižek. The Plague of Fantasies. Žižek. 150 – 51. 214. 102 – 3. the first movement his consent to watch Madeleine. his attempted re. The prologue gives us the incident that precipitates Scottie’s vertigo. Modleski. his following her. where Wood argues that Vertigo “can be seen to fall conveniently into a brief prologue and three main acts or movements. Organs without Bodies. Le profil montré est le gauche et non plus le droit. Žižek uses Deleuze’s treatment of Hitchcock to read and reread films psychoanalytically. 1 – 17. The Plague of Fantasies. Organs without Bodies: Deleuze and Consequences (New York: Routledge.
MA: MIT Press. 52. Žižek argues that “the ‘powerless witness’ is also a crucial component of the experience of the Sublime: this experience takes place when we find ourselves in the face of some horrifying event whose comprehension exceeds our capacity of representation. Žižek. Scottie stands in front of the image [of Judy] that is at the same time comparable to [the sublime Madeleine] and inverse of that which he [has previously] turned his back to.” (“The image of Judy is exactly the negative (in the technical sense of the term) of the sublime profile of Madeleine we are given [at Ernie’s Restaurant]. le profil merveilleux. sublime and captivating. 54.”) 49. And this time. 1810. 138 – 39.138 • Camera Obscura que pourtant il <<visionna>>. 1990). it is somber and no longer luminous. 1982). Metastases. the marvelous profile. but attempts to reconcile bearing witness to atrocities with aesthetic pleasure. Here he seems to suggest that trauma functions like the sublime. it is so overwhelming that we can do nothing but stare at it in horror. .’ The negative could be understood as an image not yet developed. bypassing the fact that a human act can also trigger an experience. Žižek. and it is set against a green background instead of the bright red one [at Ernie’s]. Elizabeth Grosz. Yet he does not divorce the sublime from the beautiful. 50. and therefore. Theory of Colours. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. yet at the same time this event does not pose immediate threat to our physical well-being. Jacques Lacan: A Feminist Introduction (New York: Routledge. Looking Awry. 73. une image en devenir: il faut encore que Scottie agisse sur elle pour qu’elle devienne l’image totale. The Metastases of Enjoyment. the act of torture and murder — here also we are in a state of horror” (Žižek. The profile is shot from the left instead of the right. an image in the process of becoming: Scottie still has to act on the image to make it a total image. trans. sublime et captif. Organs without Bodies. Žižek. Kant confines the experience of the Sublime to examples from nature. Charles Lock Eastlake (Cambridge. 22. Ce négatif peut s’entendre comme une image non encore développée. 83. 53. 51. so that we can maintain the safe distance of an observer. 161. 74). he has ‘envisioned.
Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1. 59. 1963) hold such a pivotal role in Deleuze’s theory of the transition from the movement image to the time-image. chap. 1989). and Gilles Deleuze. The Matrix of Visual Culture. This is the part of the inner ear that is responsible for integrating what we see. Vertigo is not usually associated with acrophobia. Double. Pisters. 56. Chabrol and Rohmer. Wexman. Vertigo is itself a symptom that usually manifests itself as the spinning of the world around the individual or the individual spinning in the world. See Deleuze. T. Patricia Pisters. 19. Cinema 1. he has very little to say about these films in particular. 58. Pisters. chap. The original reads: “La narration de Vertigo fait de Gavin Elster une icône de toute l’industrie du cinema productrice de stars: l’homme qui transforme une femme pour duper. and The Birds (dir. abuse. 180. “The Critic as Consumer. trans. 37. 62. Esquenazi. Alfred Hitchcock. 64. Hitchcock.Cross. located in and around the ear.” Studies in French Cinema 3 (2003): 39. Rear Window. Monk. US. 117. “Free Play.” . et tuer. “Recuperating Hitchcock’s Doubles: Experiencing Vertigo in Garcia’s Place Vendôme. but with the vestibular system. and feel with head and body movement. Marker. 12. 166 – 79. The Matrix of Visual Culture. hear. 65. 60. 61. Even though Vertigo. Cinema 2: The Time-Image. 19.” 35 – 37. The Matrix of Visual Culture. Jefferson Kline. 57. Hitchcock et l’aventure de Vertigo.Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 139 55.” 63.
nationalism. modernism. representations of violence. 2001) and has published articles on digital and performance art. She is the author of The Unmaking of Fascist Aesthetics (University of Minnesota Press.140 • Camera Obscura Kriss Ravetto. feminism.Biagioli is a senior lecturer in film studies at the University of Edinburgh. and postsocialist cinema. She is currently working on a manuscript entitled “Mythopoetic Cinema at the Margins of Europe.” .
Vertigo and History of Film Theory • 141 Vertigo (dir. US. 1958). Courtesy British Film Institute . Alfred Hitchcock.
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