Vertigo Variations, Pt 1

A few ways of seeing Alfred Hitchcock's impossible object
by B. Kite and Alexander Points-Zollo  posted September 21, 2011
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Vertigo is an impossible object: a gimcrack plot studded with strange gaps that nonetheless rides a pulse of peculiar necessity, a field of association that simultaneously expands and contracts like its famous trick shot, a ghost story whose spirits linger even after having been apparently explained away, and a study of obsession that becomes an obsessive object in its own right, situated likewise on the edge of unreality. This video series avoids assigning the film any determinate shape and tries instead to enter it through a number of side doors, each indicative of a way of seeing. Part 1 explores some of the ground-level weirdness of the film’s construction, offers a suggestion that the film may exist in its own unique tense, and examines two iterations of the (Chris) Marker Hypothesis. Part 2 is spooky, reading the film through a phantom appendage then laying down a sort of Vertigo tarot before moving onto slightly more solid ground with a new consideration of Hitchcock’s concept of the MacGuffin. Part 3 takes the zoom-in-track-out as an emblem, reconsiders the issue of point of view, then throws all the pieces back up in the air. (Parts 2 and 3 will be posted in the coming months.) That’s a thematic rundown and preview of potential attractions, from the position of the narrator. The images have their own agendas, which often coincide but sometimes don’t.

Technical note: Although heavy compression of large files is necessary for speedy Internet streaming, it sometimes does unpredictable things with random and rapidly changing elements, e.g. the static in this video. The makers heartily recommend that interested viewers download a slightly less compressed QuickTime version of Vertigo Variations. The file is about 500 MB. 

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Universal Home Entertainment
James Stewart and Kim Novak in Vertigo, directed by Alfred Hitchcock

KEYWORDS

video essay  |  Alfred Hitchcock  |  Chris Marker  |  Vertigo

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THE AUTHORS

B. Kite lives in Brooklyn. He has written on movies and books for publications including The Village Voice, The Believer, and Cinema Scope, as well as appearing in the anthology Exile Cinema: Filmmakers at Work Beyond Hollywood (SUNY, 2008).

More articles by B. Kite

Alexander Points-Zollo is an experimental filmmaker in Brooklyn. He is currently seeking employment.

More articles by Alexander Points-Zollo