Vertigo (Philosophers on Film)

Vertigo (Philosophers on Film)

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 0415494478

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Released in 1958, Vertigo is widely regarded as Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece and one of the greatest films of all time. This is the first book devoted to exploring the philosophical aspects of Vertigo. Following an introduction by the editor that places the film in context, each chapter reflects upon Hitchcock’s film from a philosophical perspective. Topics discussed include:

  • memory, loss, memorialisation, and creativity
  • mimetic or representational art and art as magic
  • the nature of romantic love
  • gender, sexual objectification, and identity
  • looking, "the gaze", and voyeurism
  • film and psychoanalysis
  • fantasy, illusion, and reality
  • the phenomenology of colour.

Including annotated further reading at the end of each chapter, this collection is essential reading for anyone interested in Vertigo, and an ideal resource for students of film and philosophy.

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Furthermore, the medium of film is especially suited to showing the reality of fantasy, especially if it juxtaposes reality and fantasy without necessarily marking the boundary between them as it might, say, by explicitly indicating a change in the status of the image.9 We have here not simply a moral ambiguity or an inescapable human tension but, for good or ill, something essential to our experience of the world, perhaps to our ability to experience it at all: fantasy establishes ‘the worth of

declaration of the camera that Hitchcock ends his film. (Rothman 2004: 236–37) The movement is ‘revealing’ the camera ‘all along to have been … outside the tower chamber’ and as such is ‘revealing’ the camera. The spectators are aware of it ‘pulling out’ so that they come to see him from this ‘position’. They not only see Scottie ‘in mute anguish and supplication’, but are conscious that they (are able to) see him from this peculiarly ‘inaccessible’ view. George Toles writes that ‘Hitchcock …

potential for becoming Madeleine that Scottie has discerned in Judy is the potential for being haunted. Scotties predicament is also more tortured than that, because his erotic fantasy begins in contradictory wishes. Being haunted is a passive state. Scottie lost Madeleine, as he understood things, because forces she could not control compelled her to revisit Carlottas life and then to visit Carlotta in the grave. Madeleines mysteriousness enchanted him but the enchantment also took her away. A

dissolving him into the room. We see a busy, elegant restaurant, with people dressed formally for evening, eating and talking quietly at every table. The walls are covered in red flock wallpaper, surrounding everything as if by the walls of a womb – a space to conceive and make ready for birth. Elster had said that he and Madeleine would be dining here before going to the opera – and in a sense the rest of the film is an opera that Scottie and Madeleine enter and play out. A plausible restaurant

merely an instrument in Scotties battle of belief against skepticism, a shoring up of his memory, but a substantive object of Scotties deepest desires. There is a thought here, independent of any commitment to a “dream reading” of Vertigo, that strikes me as registering something important about the second part of the film (and so the film as a whole). Its elaboration will serve as my closing. The inclination to orient thinking about Vertigo around the idea of Scottie as fundamentally interested

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