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Video of the day. Essential Video Essay on Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”

A new and remarkable piece of criticism on Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 masterpiece.

"Vertigo Variations, Pt 1" by B. Kite and Alexander Points-Zollo, Moving Image Source.

A tremendous inspiration for the nascent format of video essays and video criticism, but more importantly brings to what, historically, seems an over-analyzed film fresh expression, poetry and insight.

Update from MIS:

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 . The file is about 500 MB.

"Vertigo Variations, Pt 2":

Danny, spelling counts. “Vartions”?
Thanks for the heads up Chuck, the system inexplicably published an earlier draft which had that typo and was missing the MIS link.
I’m a big fan of B. Kite’s work, thanks for the link!
Thanks, I think Elster’s one of Hitch’s most fascinating characters: and the “freedom and power” quote seems so key the more times you watch it. I also think the comment about how much the film changes over multiple viewings, how difficult it is to get a bead on it first time around, if fantastic.
I think I forgot to take my crazy pills this morning so your film made no sense. You are also punishing people by making them wait through fuzzy for a long time before you speak. Were you trying to hypnotize me? Just because I was temporarily hypnotized does not mean your arguments are persuasive. “You cannot see Vertigo, you can only re-see it”. I say “Nonsense” in a most courteous way. I think you have to take the intention of the artist into account. The intention behind a film like ‘Vertigo’ is entertainment. If you want to talk about non-linear time, and memory, then talk about ‘Last Year at Marienbad’ That was the intention there. I quite enjoyed that film.
Billy, you’ll notice if you watched the film all the way through or read this post, this is not my film but the video of two critics that was published on another website. I don’t expect them to answer your questions here, but it seems like you aren’t really addressing the points you seem to disagree with. The video goes into why the filmmakers think “you cannot see Vertigo…only re-see it” — I’d be curious to know why you disagreed with their specific points. But then again, you seem to shut down all discussion because clearly the film is “entertainment” therefore not worthy of discussion or extra thought. (Anecdotally, I’m pretty sure Resnais wanted people to not be entertained with Marienbad, just as you suggest—at least he said so often in his article, “My Intentions Behind Last Year in Marienbad and How You Must Watch My Film”.) But then again, again, if one thinks Vertigo does not address non-linear time, when even a rudimentary plot synopsis would suggest as much, one might think that perhaps that person hadn’t even watched Vertigo in the first place. Which leads us back to the critics’ supposition you take issue with…
Wow. I think I’ll rewatch this again this weekend. But now I’m deeply unsettled.
Kite’s stuff is great, I most appreciate the way he, is B. Kite a he?, seeks to expand our apprehension of a film rather than simply provide some single reading or define a definitive “meaning” that should be understood, thus closing off further reflection. I can’t say this essay was as impressive as the work done on Kane, but nonetheless it shows the potential of video essays for going beyond the previous print criticism in suggestiveness. I’ll be looking forward to the other parts, but does this suggest the other parts of the Welles piece are being put off? Or have I somehow missed them? I hope it isn’t the former. Thanks for bringing this to our attention Daniel!
As I understand it, the Welles piece is considered dead, though I continue to hope it’ll resurrect and pluck the stake from its heart, but the second Vertigo Variation is already in the works so you shouldn’t have (too) long to wait.
Unfortunately, I only made it halfway through this piece. I just couldn’t find many new and interesting ideas about ‘Vertigo’ in it. Also the style was too hard on the eyes. For what it’s worth I do think Elster is a great Hitch villain. I like that the piece spends some time on his thoughts about the past and ‘freedom and power’. Hitchcock’s villains (and other characters) are often obsessed with and idolize the past.
I am glad you are my proxy. Some people take criticism personally. It seems to me as though its creators are talking in a kind of a Sarah Palin word salad. I’m not a troll. Not closed minded. Love this site. The 2:37 intro before the piece starts does seem like it’s trying to hypnotize you. Which is in the movie. I go to Annie Hall for a quote on intentions: Marshall McLuhan: I heard what you were saying! You know nothing of my work! You mean my whole fallacy is wrong. How you got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing! But that’s not really addressing the arguments, as you say. Ulster is insubstantial – Opinion, not fact. Perhaps rear projection has to do with the flatness of scenes. Enchantment/Move SanFran out of linear time – Not really argued in this section of piece. See/Re-see – “It is shadowed by the already seen.” “Time exists in a split tense”. One interpretation of this would indicate that this movie brings on a state of deja-vu. It’s a man haunted by his past recreating his past. This is what I mean about word salad. And obfuscation. Why obfuscate? For example: He was a man in love with a thought form. Why not just say he was in love with the idea of love? Instead of saying you cannot see, but only re-see, say that the true value of the film comes through repeated viewings. I would love to read "My Intentions Behind Last Year in Marienbad and How You Must Watch My Film” if you have a URL. It would be hilarious if he was serious. This video would seem to contradict that assertion:, I don’t believe that I disagreed with the linear time issue, but I don’t find its treatment out of the ordinary. A man haunted by his past recreating his past. Deja vu! The film is out of the ordinary, but I think it functions quite well as a traditional entertainment. That’s why I dropped the Marienbad reference. I don’t think you could call Marienbad traditional. Unless you’re closed minded.
I saw the face of Jesus right at first. It was like on the …the face on the Shroud of Turin. I’m sure of it.
I loved this. It will seem obvious in future that video essays are THE way to analyze films that deserve (or require, as the authors say here) repeated viewings. If, that is, fair use can trump industry greed, still anybody’s guess. With regard to the essay itself, I’m generally impatient with all the critical hoo-ha about Hitchcock, who prided himself on making what Andy Warhol might have called “deeply superficial” movies. He’d likely be as sneakily proud of his ability to manipulate critics as he was openly proud of manipulating audiences. But Vertigo, whether I would or no, got under my skin, and I have felt compelled to see it repeatedly—something that even the greatest movies in my pantheon don’t necessarily induce— and this was the first critique I’ve seen that got at why that might be. Definitely looking forward to hearing/seeing more from these two.

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