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