Hitchcock: Double Vision
Tuesday, July 19, 2022, 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm
Instructor: Jennifer Fleeger, Ph.D., Media and Communication Studies, Ursinus College
Ten years ago, Vertigo (1958) surpassed Citizen Kane to claim the top spot on the Sight & Sound critics’ poll of the greatest films of all time. Yet, it was not a hit when first released, probably because it tells an uncomfortable story of obsession and features beloved actor James Stewart in an uncharacteristic role.
In typical Hitchcock fashion, the themes of the film lie both unashamedly on the surface and hidden beneath layers of Freudian wrapping, and we’ll explore them by turning to Hitchcock’s own obsessions: mothers, blondes, voyeurism, and control. We will also consider how Vertigo’s split structure and staging of a slow-motion chase make it rather unique among the Hitchcock classics, and the ways in which its emphasis on the city of San Francisco builds on the importance of setting in some of his other films.
In terms of form, Vertigo is best known for its infamous “dolly zoom,” the shot Hitchcock developed to inflict on audiences the sense of dizziness experienced by its main character—a technique we will discuss alongside the film’s other innovative cinematographic choices, including its animated dream sequence, fog filter, and green lighting. We will also talk about the importance of Bernard Herrmann’s music in Hitchcock’s work, detailing how he uses a leitmotif to represent the “dolly zoom” with sound. Finally, no discussion of Vertigo is complete without considering Kim Novak’s role as Hitchcock’s most famous double. Join us for a seminar that will bring some balance to your appreciation of Vertigo.
Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Additional showtimes can be found here.
Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those who attend the seminar on site at BMFI receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink.
Please note: There are two ways to attend in this seminar:
Please email BMFI Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.