2 Spellbound and 4 Vertigo by Les LeVeque

Les LeVeque, a NY based former sculptor, has taken two beloved Hitchcock classics and turned them into contemporary short films. LeVeque uses simple algorithms and computer interface to develop these shorts, and in some of his other works, encourages political and social activism through this unique medium. However, in these two videos, LeVeque attempts to push the boundaries of artistic expression through Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945) and Vertigo (1958).

Critic Patricia Zimmermann explains that “in 2 Spellbound (1999), LeVeque condenses Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945) into a 7 1/2 minute flickering Rorschach test by extracting a single frame from every second of the original film in a linear fashion–from Hitchcock’s opening sequence to the copyright warning” (Zimmermann). The short is given a soundtrack of electronic music that fits the pace of the flashing images, with excerpts of dialogue like the words “hallucination” or “charming diagnosis.” One can see a LeVeque influence on the music video for Wax Tailor’s 2005 song “Que Sera,” which features clips from Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) and Shadow of a Doubt (1943), and the song itself, which is electronic, features clips of Doris Day singing “Que Sera” from The Man Who Knew Too Much in its refrain.

Alternatively, in his 2000 short 4 Vertigo, LeVeque uses a slightly different algorithm to alter Hitchcock’s Vertigo. In this short, LeVeque still uses the same Rorschach-like element, but also flips the clips upside down, so it seems as if they are spinning in a circle. What LeVeque does change about this short is that the soundtrack is not original music, but is actually an edited version of the original Vertigo soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann, giving this short a much more eerie and chaotic feel.

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