Sans Soleil is a documentary film made in 1982, directed by Chris Marker. The film is a compilation of “thoughts, images and scenes” filmed in Japan and Guinea, and covers two very different lifestyles and survival methods. Other scenes were shot in Iceland and San Francisco, while a female narrator reads letters sent to her by a man named Sandar Krasna, whose footage we are following. As the audience follows Krasna’s film, we are partaking in voyeurism, similar to what we see in Vertigo by Scottie following Madeline all over the city.
The San Francisco shots were influenced by Hitchcock’s Vertigo and throughout the film the narrator keeps referring to it. Marker admits to being a fan of Hitchcock’s concept of repeating time and the idea of recreating the past, as seen in Vertigo.
In Hitchcock’s film, Scottie “brings back” Madeline, and Marker uses that theme throughout his film, repeatedly coming back to the scenes of the San Francisco Bay area, especially the winding roads. Both films strongly display voyeurism and the idea of reliving the past. Time is flawed in both films as characters attempt to change what is not supposed to be changed and as a result; death.
Mel Brooks’ film High Anxiety is famously dedicated to Alfred Hitchcock, referencing scenes from Spellbound, Vertigo and Psycho. The film is a compilation of different movies, re-done with a modern take. Mel Brooks directed and stars in this film as Dr. Richard Thorndyke, and we follow him to his institution where we see many encounters similar to what we would see in a Hitchcock film.
Taken from Vertigo
Another famous scene Brooks recreated is the infamous Psycho shower scene, only this time the weapon of choice is a newspaper.
The Birds jungle gym scene
More famous scenes from Hitchcock’s films are mentioned in High Anxiety, including The 39 Steps and North by North West. This is really a film everyone should watch as Brooks captures the Hitchcockian techniques, such as the McGuffin and the essence of staircases.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo embodies qualities of a successful film, especially the entertainment factor. From the start, this beautiful, mysterious woman thought to be possessed by a spirit captivates the audience. As the film progresses, we get sucked in to Jimmy Stewart’s mind and are able to view the world through his eyes. In my opinion, one of Hitchcock’s best tactics is his use of voyeurism throughout his films.
One concept I found interesting, as stated by Laura Mulvey in “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, is that the film is “woven around what Scottie sees and fails to see.” In any film involving voyeurism, Hitchcock is able to make two worlds within one movie; one, which the audience sees what the actor sees, and one, which the audience sees everything. I applaud Hitchcock for his ability to intertwine the two worlds in Vertigo, all while keeping the audience on edge for the next scene.
In addition, Hitchcock did a fantastic job with the plot of the film. Not only is it original, but it keeps the audience on edge as well. The concept of vertigo plays into the film by making it more elusive than a regular film, because we are left wondering what is real and what is an effect of the illness. For example, when Madeleine falls/jumps off the ledge, we instantly think she is dead although we meet Judy and learn we were wrong. Did we see that because Hitchcock wanted us to, or because it was what Scottie believed he saw?
I do not think this is Hitchcock’s best film, but it is definitely a work of art. Using his talents with voyeurism and originality, he is able to mesh reality and film together to make us feel as if we are part of his work.
Almost all relationships depicted in Hitchcock’s films involve some conflict whether it is between two men (Strangers on a Train) or a man and woman (Rear Window and Vertigo). One concept that frequently occurs regarding conflict is the changing of a leading lady for their man.
Most prominently seen in Vertigo, Scottie Ferguson is determined to reincarnate his lost love by altering the physical appearance of Judy. By changing everything about her, Hitchcock appears to be supporting the idea of women changing for men, which can easily be debated in current society. Hitchcock makes Judy appear more as an object than a person, as Scottie is only attracted to her external appearance.
Rear Window also highlights a woman’s willingness to please the man she loves, as Lisa Fremont eventually changes her interests to fit those of L.B. Jefferies. Both essays by Keane and Mulvey raise the question of whether men are fulfilling their visions or their fetish, to which I think it is both. Although one case is stronger than the other, both men have a form of obsessiveness with their women and subconsciously influence them to fit their ideal type.
As seen in 39 Steps, the only attribute Pamela changes is her opinion of Hannay as she realizes his innocence. This is a prime example of an icy blonde changing for the better, which not many of Hitchcock’s leading ladies do. A woman should never change for anyone but herself and changing for a man depicts low self esteem.