Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 film, Rope, is based on the 1924 case of Leob and Leopold, two university students and perceived lovers, who murdered a fourteen year old boy named Bobby Franks. They were students of Nietzchean philosophy which emphasizes the “will to power” as the chief motivating force of society. They set out to commit the “perfect murder”, and Hitchcock was intrigued with this concept. During this time however, the idea of homosexuality was a sort of taboo, but Alfred Hitchcock knew that the psychological suggestion of the perfect murder, tied in with the suggestion of homosexuality would be enough to cause a stir among audiences. This created a voyeuristic view into the lives of these two murderers, which raised the stakes for the film as a whole. As well as dealing with the societal view at the time, Rope was an experimental film. It was thought to be a film shot uninterrupted with cuts or edits. There were found to be ten cuts of film, hidden as foreground objects filled the screen. Rope is based upon the explorative examinations of emotional content and psychological conflict which parallels with the technology of its time.
Rea Tajiri’s Hitchcock Trilogy, is composed of three short films based on scenes from Vertigo, Psycho, and Torn Curtain. Tajiri uses the soundtracks by Bernard Herman in each film to cue memories from the famous Hitchcock films. In Hitchcock Trilogy, the sound is separated from the picture, as the soundtracks by Bernard Herman are synced with a different and more minimalistic narrative than the original Hitchcock films. The music of Vertigo, is used in combination with a textual description of three postcards. Music from Psycho is put together with a static shot of these two women and Hermans unused score for Torn Curtain, can be heard while there is a montage showing a consecutive closing of curtains, borrowed from other films.
- Created from a pastiche of cinematic, newsreel, animation and television images that are set against Bernard Hermann’s evocative score, the “endless beginnings” of Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain reveals a continuous series of curtains opening.
- Vertigo recounts three stories, allegedly based on postcard reproductions of Giuditta, a painting by Cristofano Allori; a photo of Lu Hsun on his way to deliver a speech at Kwanghua University, Shanghai, in 1927; and a photo of a jewel box made by Archibald Knox around 1900. No images appear; the viewer sees Tajiri’s narratives as written texts that scroll down the screen.
- In Psycho, the photographic image of two women is evocatively transformed through subtle transmutations of gesture and movement.
(Two Women from Psycho)
“On the surface, Rea Tajiri’s work reads like the standard deconstruction of appropriated popular media via text to which we have grown accustomed in the ’80s. But this is a work of remarkable evocation and resonance that counterpoints and complements the scores of Hitchcock films with ‘meta-narrative’ possibilities….In each, Tajiri ‘mirrors the mirror’—she departs from her own subjective perception rather than the original, and creates a new scenario.” —Michael Nash, Reconstructed Realms (Long Beach Museum of Art, 1989)